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My Fair Lady & Archetypes

My Fair Lady focuses on the story of a low-class flower girl who becomes a fair lady that everybody admires. This article mainly focuses on the journey of the protagonist Eliza Doolittle from the perspective of Carl Gustav Jung’s ideas about the Self. Jung’s model of the Cardinal Four Orientations of the 12 Common Archetypes is used to show Eliza’s “Individuation” and help understand the film’s other characters and the roles they play in Eliza’s journey.

Individuation of Eliza Doolittle

Figure 1. The Four Cardinal Orientations; Golden, Carl. “The 12 Common Archetypes.” “Soul Craft”. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 July 2015

Individuation is, in Jungian terms, “the process toward maturation and the realization of a person’s unique potentials and powers” (Dobson). In order to verify this process of the personal internal change of Eliza Doolittle, the analysis of her motif and her personality is needed. The psychologist Carl Gustav Jung used archetypes as a way of categorizing the fundamental human motifs that are shared universally. The “12 Common Archetypes” that I will use in this paper are the primary ones that Jung defined in order to explain the different types of people that share “a set of values, meaning and personality traits” (Golden). The Psychotherapist Carl Golden stated that “people have several archetypes at play in their personality construct, however, one archetype tends to dominate the personality in general.” Meanwhile, the 12 common archetypes can be divided into 4 different groups of orienting focus, which is illustrated in the Figure 1.

The primary archetype of Eliza as the film begins is the “Innocent”. The innate optimism and the core desire of the Innocent to get to the paradise motivate her to sing about the imaginary “lovely” place even after a difficult night in the cold rain.¹ Meanwhile, belonging to the group of “Order” in the Four Cardinal Orientations model, Eliza often demonstrates her focus on doing things right. For example, she introduces herself twice as a “respectable” and “good” girl.² On the other hand, this orienting focus of Order was how she could endure Higgins’ (Professor Henry Higgins) tough, and even insulting tutoring method.

Despite Eliza’s strong Innocent side, Higgins perceived her as “Jester” due to her strong dialect and the way she behaves. Working on the street as a flower girl, the Jester was a persona that she chose to wear. According to Jung, “Persona” is “…a kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and, on the other, to conceal the true nature of the individual” (305). In this sense, what she gained from Higgins through the language and manners tutoring was a new persona of a fair lady.

What was more meaningful for Eliza in this journey than the new persona was her self-evolution, which was happening inside of her. If the scene at the royal ball showed her new successful persona, the scene in the garden of Mrs. Higgins’ where she argues with Professor Higgins reveals her individuation. Before she announces farewell to Higgins, she sings as below:

What a fool I was / What a dominated fool / To think you were the earth and sky / What a fool I was / What an addle-pated fool / What a mutton-headed dolt was I / No, my reverberating friend / You are not the beginning and the end / … / lf they can do without you, Ducky, / So can I / l shall not feel alone without you / l can stand on my own without you.. (My Fair Lady)

The realization that she can live independently and Higgins was merely to get there made her conscious about her Explorer side. As the Explorer is part of the “Freedom” group, this song can be interpreted as Eliza’s clear manifestation of freedom. Just like the name itself indicates, the Explorer goes on a journey in order to achieve the goal of “better, more authentic, more fulfilling life” (Golden).

From Jungian point of view, this archetype of Explorer has been always inside of her, but not readily visible. In the circular structure of the Self that Jung created, this realization can be understood as the blossom of the “Seed” of potential (see Figure 2). Located in the unconscious mind, the seed is not understood by oneself but it is the central life force that defines the Self. In fact, considering Eliza was the one who initiated her journey of becoming a fair lady — by visiting Higgins and persuading him to tutor her — she was already an Explorer even without this self-realization. The scene of singing in the garden symbolizes the seed of Explorer finally blossoming and rising to the surface of conscious mind of Eliza like a flower.

Figure 2. The Model of the Self. Created by Juwon Kang based on Jung’s idea of the Self

Meanwhile, It is worth noticing that the Explorer archetype is located in the right opposite of the Innocent in the four cardinal orientation model. The following section examines how the characters around Eliza played a role in supporting Eliza’s journey of individuation.

Archetype Analysis of Other Characters

Figure 3. The Journey of Eliza Doolittle and the relationships with other characters applied on the Four Cardinal Orientations of the Common 12 Archetypes. Created by Juwon Kang

The film’s other characters and their archetypes are very useful in further understanding Eliza’s development. The presence of Mr. Doolittle creates a contrast with Eliza as the Innocent when he demonstrates the typical behavior of a real “Jester”. In accordance with “the Jester’s motto of ‘you only live once’” (Golden), Doolittle refuses to take responsibilities as a father or as a husband and instead wanders around with his friends for fun. In particular, the scenes where he asks money from his daughter and where he sings and dances in the street with his friends shows both of his weakness of wasting time and his “core desire of having fun in the moment as a Jester” (Golden). In addition, the film uses Mr. Doolittle to again show a difference with Eliza in Part 2 where they meet in Covent Garden. While Eliza realizes that she no longer fits into the neighborhood where she used to live, Mr. Doolittle, who now displays somewhat of a gentleman’s persona based on his recent wealth, still misses his old days and enjoys his time in the pub like he used to. This scene emphasizes the contrast between Eliza, who has undergone a significant change as her ego realized the new archetype of life force, and Mr. Doolittle, who has merely adopted a different persona.

Higgins is the “Magician” archetype who helps Eliza reach her dream, just like “Magician’s motto, ‘I make things happen’” (Golden). Along with his superior ability and knowledge of linguistics, his “strategy of ‘developing a vision and living by it’ as a Magician” (Golden) were demonstrated by Higgins’ success in tutoring Eliza. However, their relationship was rocky due to his strong ego. Consistent with the Magician as a member of the “Ego” group, a strong self-regard and belief in his own ability was prominent in Higgins’ personality, and these attributes led him to be manipulative and disrespectful to Eliza. For example, Eliza realized that he had been merely taking advantage of her when he ignored her presence but just celebrated his success after the royal ball. Meanwhile, Eliza leaving him and realizing that he has fallen in love with her were all unintended consequences for him, which result is the greatest fear of the Magician. With too much of ego, he chose to blame her decision and complained about women’s complexity as a way of overcoming his fear.

Freddy Eynsford-Hill is a minor supporting character, but, his archetype of the “Lover” plays an important role in the story as a foil. In the Four Cardinal Orientations model, the Lover is located as the complete opposite of the Magician. Moreover, Eliza’s Innocent is positioned right in the middle of these two. In other words, by adding Freddy to the picture, the story not only becomes more dynamic with the love triangle but also accentuates Higgins’ difficult personality as a love parter in contrast to Freddy. Waiting for Eliza without any promise and his showing lack of confidence³ when finally meeting her show Freddy’s noble and pure affection, which is a prominent attribute of the Lover.

Both Colonel Hugh Pickering and Mrs. Higgins play supporting roles while demonstrating different archetypes. Pickering, as a “Caregiver”, protects and cares for Eliza. He not only checks Higgins to treat Eliza more respectfully multiple times, but also sponsored her for the tutoring. Furthermore, he often stayed with Higgins and Eliza and this presence could reduce the tension between the two. As Eliza develops herself both externally and internally, the role of Pickering as a Caregiver decreases gradually and Mrs. Higgins becomes more important. Mrs. Higgins is the “Ruler”. She is introduced as a successful independent woman, like a queen, one of the types of the Ruler. For example, she owns and manages a race ground and she knows how to control her son without much effort. When Eliza explains her feelings and recent experience to her, Mrs. Higgins shows empathy towards Eliza despite a girl barely met was talking about the negative side of her son.

The six months of tutoring was a journey of individuation for Eliza. Based on her desire to get to a better place and focus on doing things right as the “Innocent”, the “Explorer” that resided in the seed of her unconscious mind blossomed to the conscious world. Consequently, Eliza felt true confidence and freedom. Many other characters had a role to play in helping her reach this realization. Drawing a line between the Innocent and the Explorer archetypes across the circle of Four Cardinal Orientations, on the left of the line falls the Magician (Higgins) and the Ruler (Mrs. Higgins). On the other side is the Jester (Mr. Doolittle), the Lover (Freddy) and the Caregiver (Pickering) (See figure 3.). Interacting with these people from all four sides of the orienting focus, Eliza could move forward in her journey while keeping a balance between the persona and the ego she was a fair lady from both outside and inside.

Figure 4. Storyline of My Fair Lady Visualized as a Journey of Eliza’s Individuation. Created by Juwon Kang based on Jungian idea of the Self

1) Song “Wouldn’t It Be Lovely?” from the scene in Covent Garden, London of Part 1

2) For some of the examples, Eliza said as following “I ain’t done nothing wrong by speaking to the gentleman. …I’m a respectable girl, so help me”, (both in Covent Garden, Part 1), I don’t want no gold and no diamonds. I’m a good girl, I am.” and “ I’ve always been a good girl, I have, and I won’t be put upon.” (in Higgins’ house, Part 1)

3) When Eliza said she wants action not words, Freddy almost throws his body and crashes with the trash bin, which action was too funny for a high class gentleman. This represents “the weakness of The Lover having ‘outward-directed desire to please others at risk of losing own identity’” (Golden).

Works Cited

Carl Gustav Jung. “The Relations between the Ego and the Unconscious.” CW 7: Two Essays on Analytical Psychology. Princeton University, 1972. 305. Print.

Dobson, John “Individuation”. Vocabulary Model 06. Class GLA 617 Summer, 2015. Print.

Golden, Carl. “The 12 Common Archetypes.” “Soul Craft”. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 July 2015.

My Fair Lady. By George Bernard Shaw and Alan Jay Lerner. Perf. Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison. Warner Bros., 1964. Transcript.




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Juwon Kang Taylor

Juwon Kang Taylor

A Foreign Girl in San Francisco | UX Design Researcher & English-Korean Translator

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