Presidential Scholars Theses (1990 – 2006)
"Why can't the English" . . . learn to get along?: Musical reinforcement of negative personal characteristics in My Fair Lady
Open Access Presidential Scholars Thesis
Lowe, Frederick, 1901-1988. My fair lady; Shaw, Bernard, 1856-1950. Pygmalion; National characteristics, British, in literature;
Although the matter of adaptation is a delicate one, a majority of Shaw's original work is retained in My Fair Lady--over half of the show is the original Pygmalion script (Lerner Street 23). With the exception of the altered ending, almost all of Shaw's poke at English society is intact. But in this case, the songs of the musical serve an even greater function than just relaying what is on the characters' minds when the orchestra starts to play. The characters of this show are sometimes lovable, yet often detestable, for a great deal of their negative issues and "darker sides" are revealed. It is this more pessimistic side of the characters that is especially amplified through the songs in the show. By examining a few of the selections in their lyrical and musical details, it is evident that the musical numbers of My Fair Lady greatly enhance Shaw's characterization of his dramatis personae as intolerant, impatient, insensitive, snobbish, and generally disagreeable beings.
Date of Award
School of Music
Presidential Scholar Designation
A paper submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation Presidential Scholar
1 PDF file (32 pages)
©1998 - Gretchen Hundling
Hundling, Gretchen, ""Why can't the English" . . . learn to get along?: Musical reinforcement of negative personal characteristics in My Fair Lady" (1998). Presidential Scholars Theses (1990 – 2006). 95.
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