Higgins, Pickering, and Eliza: Homosocial and Homosexual Desires in "My Fair Lady"

Essay by surf100College, UndergraduateA-, April 2007

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Today, relationships are hard to define. With the newfound acceptance of homosexuality, the border between male homosocial relations and homosexual relations has become fuzzy. The distinction between male homosocial and homosexual desires are what I will be exploring in “My Fair Lady.” In the classic movie “My Fair Lady” the relationship between Professor Higgins and Colonel Pickering displays both homosocial and homosexual characteristics, and models the triangular desire defined by Eve Sedgwick.

Higgins invites Colonel Pickering to his house and then the next morning invites Eliza to his house. This action of inviting Eliza to stay over after inviting Pickering can be explained as having both homosocial and homosexual characteristics. The homosocial interpretation of this situation is Higgins feels a strong friendship towards Colonel Pickering. Rather than having him pay for a hotel while visiting London, he invites him to stay at his home because it is the friendly thing to do.

Higgins then sees it might be awkward for two confirmed bachelors to be living together, however temporary it may be. Uncomfortable with implications some people may draw, he invites Eliza to stay in order to maintain his masculinity and not have people speculating about his homosexuality. When arguing his actions as homosexual, his invitation to Pickering is not motivated by friendship but by his desires to have sexual relations with Pickering. Having Pickering live with him would be the easiest way to accomplish a discrete relationship. Creating a façade, Higgins invites Eliza so society will not discover his true intentions.

After bringing Eliza into the house and suffering through a few problems Higgins sings “I’m an Ordinary Man” to Pickering. Listing some negative qualities of women in his song displays both homosocial and homosexual characteristics. A homosocial standpoint sees this as Higgins, like many men do, telling...