Pygmalionby George Bernard Shaw
Format of Original Source: Play
Recommended Adaptation Length: Two Hours
Candidate for Adaptation? Promising
The play upon which “My Fair Lady” was based, telling the story of a language/dialect expert who takes in a Cockney girl in order to prove he can repair her dreadful butchery of the English language. But what he doesn’t count on is the girl’s personal transformation…or his unexpected feelings for her.
LIZA. I’m sorry. I’m only a common ignorant girl; and in my station I have to be careful. There can’t be any feelings between the like of you and the like of me. Please will you tell me what belongs to me and what doesn’t?
HIGGINS [very sulky] You may take the whole damned houseful if you like. Except the jewels. They’re hired. Will that satisfy you? [He turns on his heel and is about to go in extreme dudgeon].
LIZA [drinking in his emotion like nectar, and nagging him to provoke a further supply] Stop, please. [She takes off her jewels]. Will you take these to your room and keep them safe? I don’t want to run the risk of their being missing.
HIGGINS [furious] Hand them over. [She puts them into his hands]. If these belonged to me instead of to the jeweler, I’d ram them down your ungrateful throat. [He perfunctorily thrusts them into his pockets, unconsciously decorating himself with the protruding ends of the chains].
LIZA [taking a ring off] This ring isn’t the jeweler’s: it’s the one you bought me in Brighton. I don’t want it now. [Higgins dashes the ring violently into the fireplace, and turns on her so threateningly that she crouches over the piano with her hands over her face, and exclaims] Don’t you hit me.
HIGGINS. Hit you! You infamous creature, how dare you accuse me of such a thing? It is you who have hit me. You have wounded me to the heart.
LIZA [thrilling with hidden joy] I’m glad. I’ve got a little of my own back, anyhow.
HIGGINS [with dignity, in his finest professional style] You have caused me to lose my temper: a thing that has hardly ever happened to me before. I prefer to say nothing more tonight. I am going to bed.
LIZA [pertly] You’d better leave a note for Mrs. Pearce about the coffee; for she won’t be told by me.
HIGGINS [formally] Damn Mrs. Pearce; and damn the coffee; and damn you; and damn my own folly in having lavished MY hard-earned knowledge and the treasure of my regard and intimacy on a heartless guttersnipe. [He goes out with impressive decorum, and spoils it by slamming the door savagely].
“My Fair Lady” kept huge tracts of the original play intact (it’s almost “edited” rather than rewritten); is a new adaptation possible?
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