Essay on My Fair Lady By Alan Jay Lerner

1042 Words Apr 14th, 2016 5 Pages
Diogenes, the foremost Cynic of Ancient Greece, once remarked “What I like to drink most is wine that belongs to others.” Diogenes was one rogue of a philosopher who wholeheartedly lived out his ideas, deliberately confining himself to poverty and seeming immorality in order to be free of all social conventions. In his pursuit of a simple, happy life, Diogenes frequently shocked the conscience of Athens with his aberrant and often obscene antics. Alfred Doolittle, a common dustman in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion who also prefers his wine at the expense of others, is not unlike Diogenes. Doolittle rejects social customs and principles so that he can live freely and happily as one of the “undeserving poor.” He, too, shocks the conscience of the more genteel classes, only those of early twentieth century London rather than ancient Athens. In his musical adaptation My Fair Lady, Alan Jay Lerner expands upon the concept of an unprincipled, unconventional dustman. By adding scenes and songs that transform Doolittle into a major character and spotlight his philosophies, Lerner corroborates Doolittle as a bona fide Immoralist, a walking antithesis of all societal virtues.

Doolittle first appears in Act II of Pygmalion when he tries to rescue his daughter Eliza from Henry Higgins and a fate “worse than death,” meaning courtesanship. But when Higgins readily agrees to give his daughter back, Doolittle remonstrates and proposes an alternative arrangement wherein Higgins can keep…

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