Pretty Woman is widely accepted to be a modern-day allegory of George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion". If Vivian Ward is Eliza Doolittle, which male character best represents Professor Higgins?
Although at first it might appear that Edward is Professor Higgins, it is actually Barney, the kindly hotel manager, who fills that role. Edward wants Vivian to play the part of his high-society, polished companion, he does not teach her how do do so, or give her the tools to find out for herself. Indeed, it seems that he assumes everyone to already have this knowledge. Although Vivian changes herself for Edward, her metamorphosis is not because of him. Although he affects change in her visual appearance by taking her shopping, the remaining issues of social nicety remain untackled.
By contrast, Barney is the benevolent teacher and voice of encouragement who teaches Vivian the mysteries of fine dining, silverware usage and dinner etiquette. He arranges a personal shopper who aids her in choosing outfits that are both stunning and socially acceptable. Without Edward's money this transformation would have been difficult on a practical level but without Barney's guidance it would not have been possible at all.
Whilst Vivian is forever changed by meeting Edward, Edward himself also changes. What are some of these changes in him and why do you think they occur?
Edward is very successful but is renowned for taking struggling companies and breaking them up, selling their assets and never dealing with issues involving the people who worked there. His method is designed to avoid personal interraction or sentiment, and his dealings with James Morse and his son, David, highlight this coldness. Edward has never experienced a father and son relationship like they have as his father was remote and unavailable, but Edward learns from the Morse's that it is possible to build up a company that he takes over and a partnership is formed. However this new ability to break down the walls he has carefully built up around him is due to Vivian's breaking them down. As Edward allows himself to fall in love he discovers a softer side to his personality and his eyes are opened to the value of human relationships. This would not have happened without Vivian.
Although Vivian seemed to be changed because of her chance meeting with Edward, she does not go back to her old life after her time with him appears to be over. To what would you attribute this?
Vivian has re-discovered her inner strength and it has given her a new self-respect. Part of this comes from having the courage of choosing to stand on her own two feet rather than becoming his "kept" escort. Vivian realizes that she is just as capable of achieving more as the women in Edward's circle, and no longer wants a man to be in charge of dictating the terms of her life.
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