The Open-Ended in Pygmalion Play by George Bernard Shaw

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The play talks about Professor Henry Higgins, a phonetics professor, He is betting on his ability to train Eliza Doolittle poor girl to speak the perfect English, she speaks in a tactless manner that can be described by vulgarity. Higgins mother began to fear her son's bet, but he assured that everything was going well, and after Eliza became famous and had an independent position and wealth, her character became very turbulent as a result of the way she was treated, and with the development of her emotional relationship with Higgins, Eliza left his home, to end that relationship. This play has an open-ended, it was not known if Eliza will marry Freddy or back to Higgins. Accordingly, this essay is going to discuss the ending of Pygmalion play in different interpretations, and how Shaw sees his ending.

Pygmalion play ended in an ambiguous way, if Eliza left Higgins or will marry Freddy, so the end is open because there is no final decision has been taken by her. This open end allows audience to create their own ending, or it is used sometimes as a way to anger an audience through leaving the major conflict unresolved. In my opinion, this end is related to Modernism period because it reflects uncertainty, it also allows to audience to choose the happy or sad ending that they think it is appropriate.

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The last thing said at the end by Shaw: 'Mrs. Higgins runs out. Higgins, left alone, rattles his cash in his pocket, chuckles; and disports himself in a highly self-satisfied manner' Shaw's cynical perspective on society and the social classes, his intent was never to let Higgins and Eliza be together. They do not even belong in the same social structure. While Eliza seems like a high-class woman but 'Nothing can make [her] like them', there are some things she simply would never understand about 'higher end' life. Second, Higgins, despite what it seems, is not actually attracted to Eliza romantically. He sees Eliza as a love interest.

I think the end is not romantic, it tends to be more realistic. Eliza is confused to make the right decision, she thinks in two minds, the first one as high-class lady, educated and independent. But the other one, as a flowers girl, simple and has modest goals. This reflects a lot of characteristics of realism period, such as uncertainty of the future which is felt by all people in that time. Also, loss of identity, Eliza cannot take a decision because she does not know which ideas she really tends to. Finally, social hierarchy, whatever Eliza changes in herself, she will be seen as a lower-class girl who does not belong to the upper-class.

There are a lot of examples about the uncertainty in the play, one of them when Eliza was unable to determine her fate, alone, with Higgins, or with Freddy. Likewise, Eliza changed her identity, as she initially agreed to live in Higgin's house, but after she became independent and stronger, she refused to live with him without marriage, it means a change in her original identity. As for the social hierarchy, it is clear in Higgins view of Eliza that it is impossible for her to accept her as a lady belongs to high class, because she is originally from the lower class.

I think there are some similarities between Eliza's character in Pygmalion with Nora, in A Doll's House. They both under the control of male power, Torvald and Higgins, they do not care about the two women although they devoted their live for them. Also, Nora and Eliza suffer of social hierarchy, Nora because she is a woman, and Eliza because she is from low-class. They both appeared as a character who make sacrifices, but men don't appreciate.

In conclusion, this essay was concerned about the open end of Pygmalion play which talked about Eliza who changed her life to became a classy lady and improve herself to get better salary, after learning speaking English perfectly by Mrs. Higgins. The end of the play was not clear, if Eliza will live with Higgins who she loves or Freddy who loved her at the beginning, she cannot take a decision or be aware of her desire. Eliza try to be someone else out of her real personality, but the new society will never accept her to be one of high- class people. Eliza at the end shown as a woman with no a specific identity, she did not belong to high class or low class, her fate is unknown. Shaw focused on these issues in the play to be related more to modernism period, because most of people suffer from the same issues, which make the play more realistic.  

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