My Fair Lady: Study Guide
My Fair Lady Alan Jay Lerner acquaintance, Colonel Pickering, that after six months of lessons with him, he could teach Eliza to speak with such a pure upper-class accent that no one would be able to tell where she came from. Chapter 2: Eliza’s father, Alfred Doolittle was thrown out of the pub as he hasnt got enough money to pay for his drinks. Eliza gives him some money. About the author My Fair Lady was originally a stage musical based on the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw.
Alan Jay Lerner adapted George Bernard Shaws play for he musical My Fair Lady. Alan Jay Lerners words for the songs use many of the spoken words in Shaws play. This was partly because Lerner, by law, had to stay as close as possible to the original. The Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) was born In Dublin, but moved to London when he was twenty, and soon began publishing articles and reviews in London magazines.
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After writing five unsuccessful novels. he turned to play writing in the 1890s, but did not achieve popular success until 1904.
His plays surprised theatre audiences of the time because of their serious attention to philosophical deas, moral questions and current social problems. Many of them – such as Caesar and Cleopatra, Man and Superman, and Saint Joan, as well as Pygmalion ” are still very popular today, and many have been filmed. Shaw was a socialist who believed in equality of income and the abolition of private property. He also supported women’s rights. He believed that many of the world’s greatest problems could be solved by rational, scientific tnlnKlng . He recelvea tne Nonel Prlze Tor Llterature In 1925.
Summary My Fair Lady tells the story of Eliza Doolittle, who is a poor girl selling flowers on London streets until she meets Henry Higgins, a professor of linguistics. Chapter 1: Higgins hears Eliza shouting in her harsh ‘Cockney accent in Covent Garden. He says to his new c Pearson Education Limited 2008 Chapter 3: Eliza finds her way to the professor’s house and offers him money to give her lessons. Pickering is intrigued and offers to pay for the cost if Higgins can really back up his claim. Higgins is interested in the experiment, and agrees.
An intensive makeover of Eliza’s speech, manners, and dress begins in preparation for her appearance at the Embassy Ball. Chapter 4: Eliza’s father comes to Higgins to extract some money from him. Higgins is impressed by the way he speaks. Meanwhile, Eliza goes through many forms of speech training. Just as things seem hopeless, Higgins softens his harsh attitude and she suddenly ‘gets it’. Chapter 5: Higgins takes her on her first public appearance to Ascot Racecourse. She makes a good impression, but shocks everyone by her Cockney accent and slang when she gets excited.
She captures the heart of a young man named Freddy Eynsford-Hill. Chapter 6: Finally, Higgins takes Eliza out to the Embassy Ball, where she stuns everyone. After the ball, Higgins is so excited about his triumph and his pleasure that the xperiment is now over. Eliza feels used and abandoned. Chapter 7: She walks out on Higgins and goes back to Covent Garden, but nobody recognises her now. She sees her father there and finds out that he’s getting married. Chapter 8: After Eliza is gone, Higgins soon realises that he has ‘grown accustomed to her face’.
Higgins finds Eliza at his mother’s house, and he attempts to talk her into coming back to him. Eliza rejects him and leave. Chapter 9: Higgins makes his way home, missing Eliza very much. He plays his recordings to listen to Eliza’s voice. To Higgins’s great delight, Eliza returns to him. About the film I ne IY04 Tllm 0T tne muslcal was enormously popular all over the world and won eight Oscars, including those for Best Picture, Best Actor (Rex Harrison), Best Director (George Cukor) and Best Costume Design. Alan Jay My Fair Lady – Teacher’s notes of 3 Lerner was nominated for an Oscar for his adaptation of George Bernard Shaws play.
The costume design was the work of Sir Cecil Beaton (1904-1980), who was one of the most fashionable photographers and designers in Britain in the 1950s and early 60s. He was particularly famous for his elegant photographs of the most beautiful women of his day. Audrey Hepburn – who did not receive an Oscar or even a nomination for her performance as Eliza Doolittle – was a world famous star when the film was made, and probably remains one of the best-loved Hollywood actresses of all time. She was born in 1929 in Belgium, of Irish-Dutch parents, and brought up in Holland.
She had small roles in films in England from 1948 to 1951, but then moved to the US, where she became a star with films such as Roman Holiday (1953), sabrtna (1954), Funny Face (1957) and Breakfast at Tiffanys (1961). Audiences fell in love with her charm and beauty, and she was one of the greatest nfluences on women’s fashion of the 1950s. When she got older she gave much more of her time to charity than to acting. She died in 1993. The musical’s unforgettable songs were of course one of the greatest attractions of the film.
Although Rex Harrison’s singing voice is heard throughout, Audrey Hepburn’s songs were only partly sung by the actress herself. The producer, Jack Warner, would not let her sing, and a professional singer – Marni Nixon – was brought in to dub her own voice over that of Hepburn’s. Background ana tnemes Pygmalion was first performed in 1913 in Vienna, and published and performed in London in 1916. The story is very much the same as it appears in My Fair Lady, except that the musical version made the relationship between Eliza Doolittle and Professor Higgins more romantic.
In the play, as the musical, Eliza grows in confidence and independence and finally wins Higgins’s respect. But in a postscript to the play, Shaw said that Eliza went on to marry Freddy Eynsford-Hill, not Higgins. Shaw partly modelled the character of Higgins on a real linguist, Henry Sweet (1845-1912), who was one of the first people to study phonetics in England. Accent: At the time of this story, speaking with a proper ccent meant a higher social status. If Eliza can speak with an ‘upper-class’ accent, she would be able to leave the street and find a respectable Job.
Relationship between Eliza and Higgins: Speaking without a very strong London accent is not the only goal Eliza is after. She has another battle on her hands: to make Higgins see her as a person, not Just as an interesting experiment. Men vs. women: The story shows the caring attitude of women, such as Mrs Pearce and Mrs Higgins. Higgins, however, doesn’t appreciate it and says, Why cant women be more like men? Discussion activities Chapter 1 Before reading 1 Discuss: Talk about musicals. Ask students if they have seen Pygmalion or My Fair Lady.
If they have, put them into groups and tell them to discuss the good and bad things about them. If they haven’t, ask them to discuss good and bad points of musicals – at the theatre and on film. After reading 2 Retell: Have students work in small groups. They look at the pictures on pages 3 and 5, and take turns to retell the story of Chapter 1. Encourage them to describe the characters, e. g. how they look, how they talk, what they are doing, etc. Palr work: ‘ell students aoout tne Internatlonal Phonetic Alphabet (‘PA) if they don’t know it. Get them to look in their dictionaries.
Do some dictionary work to practise phonetics. See the examples below: a Give students some phonetic symbols, e. g. /o/, /a/,/a/JT/, etc. Then have students look for the words with those symbols. b Give students some words and have them look them up in their dictionaries. Ask some individual students to write the words with phonetic symbols on the board. c Write some words using the phonetic symbols on the board. Have students guess what the words are. Chapters 2-3 4 Discuss and predict: Talk about Alfred Doolittle. Have students look at the picture on page