Here I go again, wading into truly controversial territory. That’s me, fighting the good fight.
Eliza should have married Freddy.
Perhaps a little background is required, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the musical. My Fair Lady was written by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, based on the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. In it, Eliza Dolittle is a poor flower girl (meaning someone who sells flowers) with a thick Cockney accent, which in London means she’s little better than a beggar. Henry Higgins is a phoneticist who encounters Eliza in the street. On a dare from Colonel Pickering, Higgins decides to take on Eliza as a student, to transform her language and make her pass for a fine lady in London society.
He succeeds. Meanwhile, Freddy Eynsford-Hill, a young socialite, has fallen in love with Eliza, and has professed his love to her. In the end, however, Eliza decides to continue living with Henry Higgins. Eliza made a serious error. She should have married Freddy. I shall now present the reasons why.
First off, Freddy is devoted to Eliza. Granted, his song “On the Street Where You Live” is a bit of a stalker song, but Freddy seems much too innocent to really understand that. Freddy is unashamed to admit to Eliza herself that he loves her.
On the other hand, Henry Higgins won’t even admit to himself that he cares about Eliza. In his song “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,” which he sings to himself, it is apparent that he does care about her, but he will only admit to being “accustomed” to her. Ah, yes, that’s what every woman dreams of in a relationship with a man: to be with someone who is used to her.
Secondly, Freddy is kind and respectful, even deferential, to Eliza. Henry Higgins, on the other hand, is rude, irascible, and tyrannical, and doesn’t appreciate the things she does for him. He doesn’t recognize her achievements, claiming all success for himself, as seen in “You Did It.” He excuses has appalling behavior by saying he treats all women that way. Ultimately, Eliza is going to be happier with someone who treats her well.
Additionally, as Freddy’s wife, Eliza will have a place and future in society. As a married woman, she will be respectable. Living with Henry Higgins, on the other hand, is a very ambiguous position. When he first introduced her to society, she was a charming novelty. As others get to know her and her situation, however, she will not be so welcomed. An unmarried woman, who is not a servant, living with an older man will not be a savory role in society. Furthermore, Eliza is going to tire of being a novelty and will want a life with meaning, such as she could have as a wife and mother with Freddy. I mean, Eliza isn’t going to sleep with Henry Higgins, is she?
You might say that Freddy will end up wasting his estate, and leave her for someone else. We also have no evidence for that except for Henry Higgins’ assertion, and he’s jealous, so we can’t really trust what he has to say on the matter.
Finally, what will happen to Eliza when she grows old? As Freddy’s wife, she would be entitled to an inheritance when he dies, and any sons she has would be obligated to care for her. With Henry Higgins, she would have no official status. Since she is an unmarried woman who is not part of his family, there is no assurance that she won’t be thrown out into the streets upon Henry Higgins’ death.
In summary, Freddy loves Eliza, treats her better, Eliza will have a better role in society with Freddy, and has more assurance of being taken care of in old age.
Also, Freddie is a much better singer.