Cloudy Skies and a Foggy Mind

April 23, 2007

I Need a Knapp

Filed under: Uncategorized — anneinez @ 11:37 am

So, the ideas of fool versus witty vixen in The Belle’s Strategem set me to thinking about the Country Wife again and its portrayal of fools and ladies of the world. It also got me thinking about the fact that I had not blogged about Peggy Knapp’s “The “Plyant” Discourse of Wycherley’s The Country Wife.” And so, for all the good it is to do so now, I believe I will. Looking back at The Country Wife reminded me of how much I missed the comedies before Collier’s influence and reign of boredom. It isn’t that I liked the bawdy humour so much, but I like a world where wit wins, when, as Knapp says, “heater itself offers wit and justifies its claim on social attention by valuing amusing ‘liveliness of fancy.’” I think that has merit, and infinitely, (although I hate to agree at all with Goldsmith…) more entertainment value than a play in which virtue reigns supreme and a protagonist is sure to be measured by the goodness of his heart. Ugh.            

Knapp also brought to my attention the lack of distinct or clear cut opposites in Wycherley’s play. There really is no resolution as far as a ‘happy ending’ for Margery. I mean, Alithea and Harcourt are in perfect matrimonial bliss, but who thinks of them when they think Country Wife? I know I had to look up their names. (Of course, it is perhaps due wholly to the video that the name Horner will never leave me). Knapp posits that “Horner, in this view, is not “worthy” of Margery’s sexual favors simply because Pinchwife is unworthy of them” and I was quite interested by the contrast here with some of the later plays, even after the swing back up from sentimentality. It is true, Margery, although she must stay with Pinchwife, is not being done any  favours with either of these men. It’s rather depressing. Although, when I think about it, minus all of the linguistic arguments upon which Knapp’s argument revolves, the same case could be made for The Beaux’ Stratagem, wherein Sullen’s wife certainly does not deserve her abusive husband but seems to do little better (In fact, you could write a Rover-like sequel about it…) in hooking up with Archer, who remains a man of opportunity rather than a truly reformed rake.            

So, then, perhaps this is why words and wit are so important, the more I think about it, this play is certainly not about a love story, again, because Alithea was so dull, but it is a story about how and when wit can win out. Personally I contend that Horner would have been happiest living with Lucy as a companion, but that’s just me.            The other aspect of Knapp’s essay I found compelling was what she brought up about the ideas of what is ‘natural,’ purity or sexual promiscuity. I must say, the more I thought of it, the more I enjoy this happy little paradox. She made reference to Eve, living among the ultimate in purity and yet so quick to sin. In The Country Wife, I would be inclined to say that Margery grows and matures and changes, in a natural progression to be lusty and desiring, as though she’s eaten from the forbidden tree of knowledge…but still, if it requires so much falsity and deception to be promiscuous, how natural can it be? Also, it seems to speak volumes that she still can’t even grasp the concept of Horner’s lifestyle by the end. On the other hand, however, Alithea and Harcourt, especially the latter, also have to lie and deceive in order to be together in their pure and ‘natural’ state. It reminds me of Love at a Loss, where even the most pure and honest, to prove those qualities, needed to deceive. My head hurts…

The Belle’s Strategem is like…I must be sober: my similes fail me.

Filed under: Uncategorized — anneinez @ 11:06 am

Well, I like this play but I’m fairly certain that’s because it came last, and that way I had the most to compare it to and tie it in with. I think that Letitia reminded me of Charlotte Welldon most of all, from Southerne’s Oroonoko, although being more prominent in the plot, Letitia Hardy has more depth. It seems to me that she is like the natural evolution of the breeches role. She gets to take on the same kind of power and gets to be the party in control of deception and so with the upper hand in the relationship. Neither Letty nor
Charlotte could stand to be unwanted, so they changed themselves until they could gain men and approval. Hmmm, I am not sure what to make of that actually. On the one hand, I am prepared to read it that Letitia just took a page from Doricourt’s book (or Milimant’s from The Way of the World) and sought a way for her lover to see “her faults in the best light” (I,iii).

            Just like in nearly every comedy we have read, save maybe Mariah in School for Scandal, Wycherley’s Alithea, Behn’s Florinda, or Farquar’s Dorinda, Letitia gets power and benefit by her incredible wit and ingenuity. However, I am not sure what to make of the ending, I mean, she is this strong individual of extremes, who boldly asserts that to give up the man she dotes on “will afflict me less than to be his wife and not be beloved” (III,i) and so I like that strength of character in the face of strong emotions, like Anne Lovely’s preference for spinsterdom over loss of her fortune. At the same time though, I had to roll my eyes when she said “I can be anything. Choose then my character” (V,v) like a weak little puppy dog at the end. So Doricourt really does want someone he can bend to his will, yet, predictably (do I detect a resilient strain of sentimental comedy??) he is generous enough to insist “You shall be nothing but yourself” (V,v), which is pretty easy to say now that he sees that self is one who will do anything for him. There isn’t much at risk here. In fact, this whole final exchange seemed to come right out of the Wife of Bath’s Tale, as though Letitia was the ugly old hag giving the lusty knight that ultimatum to choose her appearance and fidelity. Kind of disappointing I guess.

            What I really loved, however, was that, not only did Letitia have a cunning plan that worked delightfully – like, say, Charlotte Wellmore – but Doricourt couldn’t pull one off to save his life. I was pretty surprised to see that everyone had been warned of and saw right through his attempt to turn Hamlet. In that same vein, I also appreciated the atmosphere of Letitia’s plot – everyone was in on it, and there was a real sense of happy community and camaraderie (even though people like Lady Racket came across a bit shady at times). The best of it though, which I think lets me like the ending and these lovers’ relationship a bit more, is Doricourt’s desperate question when he believes that he is forced to marry a woman he loathes: “must I sacrifice my peace to please the world?” (V,v) as if he is the only person in the world who ever had to do so. This really made it for me, more than a superficial turning of the tables. Just like it became clear that the Captain’s acting in Bold Stroke for a Wife was nothing compared to Anne Lovely’s need for constant transformation, Doricourt gets a taste of what so many women seem to have to do in giving up their own wills, either for unwanted marriages or for the sake of honour. Well done, I think.

 

April 19, 2007

Another Time Warp, Shall We?

Filed under: Uncategorized — anneinez @ 6:05 pm

Well, as I looked through my blog entries, compared to the schedule, I noticed there were some things which, all though I had made notes about, had  not yet made it into blog form. For shame. Anyway, as I looked back through Dryden’s Essay on Dramatic Poesie, I realized now how many other things I can tie this into.

First off all of his references to classical ideals for drama and poetry were reminiscent of Oliver Goldmith and his writing on Laughing versus Sentimental comedy, which in itself grappled with comparisons between ancient and modern, as did Dryden’s dialogic. Seeing Dryden refer to a purpose of drama as “to cause delight” instantly called to mind Jeremy Collier and his protestation of the opposite some years later, damning delight as a goal in favor of didactic texts. It was also clear that there was such a complete shift in turning away from sentimental comedy, to extol virtues and teach proper behaviou, to laughing comedy, with its traditional aim of entertainment.

Also, both Dryden and Goldmith make reference to Aristotle’s Poetics and the necessity for unity in “Time, Place, and Action.” Goldsmith cited the then-emerging genre of sentimental comedy as a compropise of both comedy and tragedy, which did not add to either one successfully. It is interesting then, that as Dryded wrote his essay, there was also a popular genre,  exemplified in his Marriage a la Mode, which attempted to unify these two and blur the tragic and comedic lines.

An 18th Century Clark Kent – We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

Filed under: Uncategorized — anneinez @ 5:18 pm

It isn’t the main focus of my post about Centlivre’s play, but I have to say, although you could say it knocked my socks off (groan), I was utterly shocked at his mad disguise skills. I mean, I understand that, as a plot device, much like with Superman, no one must recognize him with the glasses off, or a turban on, but after they all meet the same man so many times, it got harder to suspend my disbelief. Most of all, though, I found it ridicuous, and disappointingly un fairytale-like, that Anne Lovely (I think that could be a new nickname) never recognized him. Disney would not approve.

Anyway, more than just for the name, I thoroughly enjoyed Anne Lovely’s character. In class, I remember Jay bringing up the point that the title raised some, seemingly unfulfilled, expectations about the plot – namely that the wife would be the one seen boldly stroking. Nevertheless, although this play is a time for Fainall to shine, I think that Anne Lovely really does make the boldest strokes. Like Nicholas Frushell pointed out in Marriage and Marrying in Susanna Centlivre’s Plays, Centlivre offers a “pragmatic woman’s point of view” with female leads that are “bright, good-hearted, believable.”

That pragmatism to which he refers shows itself in Anne Lovely when she dismisses with disgust the idea of elopement, determined to keep her own property. I would certainly consider that a bold stroke. Even more than that though, as I condidered (perhaps inspired by the difficulty evident with socks) the complexities of Fainall’s efforts, I noticed that Anne Lovely has an even more difficult task, just living day to day with these different guardians. As when she says to Obadiah “I must vary shapes as often as a player” (II,ii,66), although more is made of Fainall’s efforts to play four different parts, Centlivre is careful to let her audience see that Anne Lovely does, and has been doing, the same thing as a matter of day to day life since they took on the roles of guardians.

Furtheremore, it becomes clear, whenever the guardians are at odds about a choice of husband for Anne, that they all hold the view (although one could argue it is only their own interests at heart) that Anne is being corrupted by each of the other guardians, showing a consistent belief that a person is shaped by those around them. It is remarkable then, in a world where such a belief is the dominant one, that Anne remains her own, individual person despite all the acting she must do  constantly.

To me this in itself makes a delightfully bold statement, as in every way, monetarily, physically (with clothing) and personally, Anne Lovely does not let herself be defined by her relationship to males. She is defined by her fortune, yes, but even then she is unwilling, even for love, to give up claim to it as hers to give to the man of her choosing. Also, it was nice to see someone, although given the title “Mrs.” in the script and dramatis personae, who was referred to most consistently by her Christian name – rather than, again, definining her in terms of her relations to others. 

Not Funny, eh? Goldsmith’s Rant Had Me Laughing

Filed under: Uncategorized — anneinez @ 3:27 pm

            Well, if anything is going to prevent me from being “deprived of the art of laughing,” it isn’t certainly Oliver Goldsmith’s essay. I find the man absolutely hilarious, and certainly well enough acquainted with the “pompous train, the swelling phrase, and the unnatural rant” in his own essay. As for what he says, however, versus how he says it, I certainly don’t think that this definition of sentimental comedy certainly applies to
Sheridan’s play. I mean, granted, the moral was that it is necessary, as with Charles versus Joseph, to go by a consideration “of the goodness of their hearts” and so had a kind of moral, the similarities seem to end there.

The thing about Charles, although he isn’t malicious or deceitful, he still really is foolhardy and frivolous, and in that sense he is exactly what his surface would indicate. He is still a man with virtues to match his vices and although he is “exceedingly generous,”
Sheridan seems to show through Charles, and his contrast with Joseph, that it never pays to have an “abundance of sentiment and feeling.”

Also, Goldsmith goes on at length about the criteria for tragedy in Aristotelian terms and so claims sentimental comedies, in focusing on those “born in humbler circumstances, and encountering accidental distress” do not fit the bill as tragic nor provide amusement. However, just as I was amused reading the pompous rant of Goldsmith, it seems to me as though Sheridan was ridiculing, not the “faults of mankind” in general so much as judgment and classification, which extends to theatrical genres as well as personalities. Just as the man of greatest ‘sentiment,’ in Joseph, was made a laughing stock and left with nothing, the fact that his downfall really was an insignificant one actually makes it that much more to be pitied and makes me, if no one else, laugh at the poor sot. Also, his distresses are not accidental, but acts of justice for his behaviour, so that, although his “distresses” be the interest in this play, they do not take the place of, but are the result of “vices exposed.” And finally, Charles, although down on cash at the beginning of the play, and with a terrible reputation, is certainly not in an even pseudo-tragic position, still his happy-go-lucky self with newly kindled hopes in anticipation of Mr. Premium’s visit.

No, A School for Scandal is not a comedy which is rich in sentiment and feeling, but one which finds immense humour in its over abundance while admitting its necessity in modest, earnest doses. Really, I think Goldsmith is full of it.

April 17, 2007

A Bullet Lodged in the Thorax For a Hundred, Alex

Filed under: Uncategorized — anneinez @ 9:39 pm

Okay, I tried, I tried with everything I had to like Maria, and maybe, in fact I’m quite sure, a person could still find a way to breathe life into her on the stage, but good lord Sheridan gave her the short end of the character stick. Ugh! I mean, okay, back in act III, scene i, when she gives a calm, subtle threat to Sir Peter, hinting that maybe his power as guardian might not be supreme, I thought, okay, I can deal with strong and silent. But no. No, I really can’t. Now, I understand that the message here overall is keep your mouth shut and you won’t get into trouble, but really though, it seems a little extreme to give her a final line consisting of “I protest, Sir Peter, there has not been a word” (V,iii, 271) – in which she gets the privilege of  complaining about her lack of power to speak. What really gets me though is that the final sumupatory verse, by Charles re his lady love, is spoken to the audience and although she may be the “dear maid” who “must rule because I will obey” (V,iii), she is completely ignored. She could be being dragged off the stage by a group of highwaymen or a rogue troupe of mimes (as would be the case if I staged this) and no one would notice or care. And really, because I have a knack for rants, who wants to act as a man’s “monitor” and “gentle guide?” I mean, it’s great to have a say, hell, even to have some sway, but it sounds like poor Charlie, little boy that he is, is only looking for a Mommy. No thanks.

do, however,  have immense pity for Lady Sneerwell, like Amalthea (though distinctly less nun-like, I’ll grant) from Marriage a la Mode, because she will never have the man she really loves. I guess that’s also, and probably more appropriately, like Lesbia in Love at a Lossor Calista in the play of pain. Yup, I had nothing but sympathy for her. I mean, sure, she was all about the forgery and the gossiping, but she did what she had to survive in the society she thrived in. And Charlie, because he had written her letters (although they weren’t particualarly juicy before Snake’s additions..), could have given her hopes he had a thing for her at one time. I suppose though, although she could “do more with a word or a look than many can with the most labored detail” (I,i) and therefore could match Maria’s silent efficacy, Sneerwell just wasn’t mommy enough for him. Sad, really. Although we’re left believing she might hook up with Joseph, I choose to believe otherwise…unless she could make a cuckold out of him… that would be acceptable.

Anyway, before I force myself to end the verbosity, I think that the most interesting aspects of this play to me were the smaller ways in which truth behind facades was presented. The Jews, for one, were presented in a more favorable light (though still with frustratingly diminutive language) than I expected. I mean, the money lending business by trade is a little unjust, but Moses was wholeheartedly sympathetic, and I think it was capital of the fellow to give away all his trade secrets – beats a magician any day. Also, like in the video we watched, this play really leaves the door open for nameless servants to be interesting. I get the feeling with this that in Sheridan’s mind he knew exactly what was going on below stairs in all these households and, though so often silent, the servants have lives no less interesting than their masters. I mean, I don’t think Sir Oliver ever gets over the shock of learning that Charles’ servant borrows money too, and the servant for Mr. Surface, without even a name, gets to reveal his opinions of his master to Sir Oliver. Way to get a voice. (poor Maria….’master’ and less than the servants…)

Okay, really, with this paragraph I’m done. Since I put this so close to the Beaux’ Stategem in my warped chronology, I got to thinking that the many faces of Sir Oliver really drove home that freedom of the outsider and liar of the traveller idea in Farquar’s play. And nevertheless, just like Foigard gets caught, Sir Oliver, at least as a persona, cannot ever really be free of the incestuous gossip web of scandal school. Really, he’s nothing but legend to the rest of the cast (and, come to think of it, how inaccurate must his picture have been for Charlie not to make the connection??? Or did he??? Maybe he just put no faith in appearances and ignored the coincidence…) the same way that Maria is nothing but token virginity.

Beaux Strategem ~ Lost in Translation

Filed under: Uncategorized — anneinez @ 8:00 pm

So, here I am continuing with my beautiful exam review moment. I have to say, I’ve had some difficulty commenting on other people’s blogs when I try, and that is darn frustrating. Anyway, Cass commented on my post about The Beggar’s Opera and how the men were always faithful to eachother, while the women were not. She agreed, and said this seemed to be true for a number of the plays, citing love at a Loss & Beaux Stratagem as examples of real female friendship. While I have to say I really liked the atmosphere of the whole female world in Love at a Loss, I didn’t find Dorinda and Mrs. Sullen quite so lovable together. I mean, I guess it’s human nature, but it seemed to me like the only reason they get along is because they share none of the same goals and Dorinda, naive as she is, really has no way of offending Mrs. Sullen and the latter, in Dorinda’s presence gets to be the love expert. I get the feeling that once Dorinda doesn’t need that, they’re friendship would be strained.

Anyway, re my my title, I got the overwhelming feeling in this play that there was always, if not a loss, than at least definite changes between the stages of planning or intention and action. Most obviously, the plan of Archer and Aimwell, to take advantage of babes with bucks, changes into defeat of another group’s deception before they can impliment it.  Also, with one of those ‘hit you over the head’ hints, there’s the character of Foigard {I think he would be a great one to see performed, preferably with socks}, who “tells lies as if he had been a traveller from his cradle” (III,iii). I like this idea of taking for granted the ‘fact’ that travellers are liars, as if that sense of the outsider and cloak of anonymity give a person free reign to behave as benefits them, as if they have successfully escaped all of society’s conventions just by leaving home. This way, when he translates himself into different places and situations, complete with an array of accents, he loses credibility and a bit of himself along with the truth.

Most interesting to me though, were the names of the double A battery beaux. I mean Aimwell is supposed to be acting as the brains of the outfit, setting the aim for their plan and outlining their course of action, while Archer, then, is to act as the action man and the instrument to aimwell. However, the path between these two, between intention and action is not a direct and predictable one. Archer does not follow and remains independent of Aimwell’s guidance. It makes sense then, because of his role as an agent of change and disorder, a loss in translation, that Archer acts as a translater. He was definitely, despite the charms of Foigard, my favourite character because, to go cliche, he called a spade a spade when no one else would. I definitely think there’s a perverse merit in his declaration there’s “no scandal like rags nor any crime so shameful as poverty” (I,i 140), and it’s nice to see Farqhar forsaking any claim to subtlety, tongue firmly planted in cheek. The best definition though, is Archer’s breakdown of a lady of ‘good blood.’ I wish I had heritage enough to be one who “reads, plays, keeps a monkey, and is troubled with vapours” (II, iii 5-7). Good show.

Anyway, before I stop rambling, I also thought it was significant that Mrs. Sullen too tries her hand at pithy definitions of character and judgment. In her case, however, she seems to be just as conflicted in this domain as she is over Archer for much of the play. When she characterizes her husband at the play’s beginning, she makes the blanket statement that a fool is “one that’s always musing but never thinks” (II, i, 65) as a way to take a stab against her ‘silent, sullen husband.’ So, by this definition, it is definitlely unappealing to be silent and stupid. But, apparently, it is no better, in the style of Archer, to be a smooth talker, since “the greatest talkers are the greatest cowards” (IV,1,483). It seems pretty difficult then to understand what this woman wants, and decipher what her definition of what a good man does and says, or doesn’t say, since she can’t herself articulate it. I guess he would be a guy with a busy mind who spoke up just enough to give a hint of genius, sounds pretty impossible…and the fact that she ends up with Archer seems to prove not even Mel Gibsen could tell me what this woman wants…

April 5, 2007

Back to the Gay Old Days

Filed under: Uncategorized — anneinez @ 9:38 pm

If I were in the mood to justify my lack of order in these posts, I think I would offer the defense, for this post at least, that I needed time to settle my stomach. Samuel Johnson, and not just because he had the witless audacity to put down the Metaphysicals (damn him!) is simply abhorent. I hope someone wrote things that scathing about poor old Sam after he snuffed it!

Anyway, I got to thinking that, at least as Dr. Johnson portrayed him, John Gay seemed to have as appropriate a surname as the characters of the plays we’ve read. I mean, to say he was “the general favourite of the whole association of wits; but they regarded him as a playfellow rather than a partner, and treated him with more fondness than respect.” makes him sound like some poor little pet, of no substance, a stock character of the real world, kept only for his trivial ability to, say it with me, be ‘gay.’

Of course, as the biography in its entirety reveals, his life was not characterized by gayness and he sounds like he would have been a terribly moody man, who could compete with any of the wives we have met in these plays. Really, Johnson does characterize him as more like the women than the men of his own plays, from being the shallow little pet of the poets’ circle, to the way that the members of that same circle were willing to say such disparaging things about his works behind his back. Maybe the tightly-knit group of loyal highwaymen was a bit of wish fulfillment on the man’s part.

I also found it really interesting to learn that he’d written a play called The Wife of Bath, especially because, while I was reading School for Scandal (although I realize that has nothing to do with Gay…) for this week, the Wife of Bath was all that came to mind during the early scenes between Peter and Mrs. Teazall. Okay, and as much as Sam J. repulses me, there is something about the description of the Dutchess of Monmouth, to whom Gay was secretary, as having an “inflexible perserverance in her demand to be treated as a princess” that warms the cockles of my heart. Under that employment, no wonder he was thinking about the wife of bath…

Finally, I guess, the more I thought about it, something I really took issue with about this biography, in relation to Gaye’s writing, was Johnson’s dismissal of “things that lie open to everyone’s use” as a subject for literature. He was speaking of mythological subjects, but such a general statement seems ill-advised and completely wrong! I mean, what makes The Beggar’s Opera important and entertaining if not that it took a new view on the obviously accessible form of Italian Opera and the lives, however poeticized and used for satire, of common people? Sheesh. Poor Gay. I decidedly like the chap. I will have to visit him in poet’s corner…

 

April 4, 2007

She-Tragedy Time Warp, Anyone? Exam Review! That’s It…

Filed under: Uncategorized — anneinez @ 12:46 am

Musings on The Fair Penitent:

Well, I am going back in time beginning this week – as a public service. You see, if anyone does indeed read my blog, I am providing a handy little refresher, just in time for the exam. I, selflessly, am here to get thoughts pumping again about plays that have gone before. You can thank me later.

            Primarily with this play, I wanted to analyze, after reading it, to what extent Calista is really penitent, and what message that sends. At first blush, it seems as though she is, of course, sorriest of all that she got caught. And I suppose, after having looked up penitent, that that ties in with the meaning to cause remorse or regret, as opposed to actually feeling it. And really, titling the play with a name for Calista which itself pertains more to her effect upon others than personal experience really speaks to the course and cause of her plight. Predictably, Calista is blown (great, I’m getting candle in the wind in my head…) by circumstances and the changing whims of others, so that, despite protests that “her sorrows were her own” (I.i.114) at the play’s beginning, even her desire for Lothario and incredible suffering from his betrayal cannot belong to her. The men appropriate these, her emotions, and experiences, as their own afflictions. The more I think about it, this line of thinking seems to have merit. The fact that she is insistent, no matter the circumstances, upon seeing Lethario one more time seems to suggest that, given the chance to live their relationship over again, she would not have acted differently, and so cannot truly be said to be sorry.

            What I think is most pertinent though is the notion she expresses with the question “And penitence – Is it become an art then (IV.1.26)  Her crime, so to speak, was blindly following the call of her emotions, irregardless of consequences or conventions and, although she too-long protests her innocence in desperation, she does not take the out offered by Horatio and craft a cover-up, claiming forgery. Calista’s downfall is her authenticity to her self to the point of recklessness. So then, it is consistent of her, without sincere feelings of remorse, to avoid acting the part of penitential woman. It is only in dying that she can, yes, atone for the pain she has caused (which, despite her stubborn attitude toward Lothario, she does seem to want by the time she finally dies), but also remain honest about her emotions and be free from any expectation to act.

            The character, actually, who I found the most disturbing, and annoying, was Lavinia, because, although a case could be made for her marriage to be one of the most positive so far, she is far too willing to sacrifice herself. When her husband has a falling out with her brother, Altimant, her belief that he will disown her too, shows that she has no concept of her place in their relationship. Furhtermore, she is eerily willing to offer her life, upon more than one occasion, for others to stop fighting. She could never be a complete enough woman to herself be a penitent, rather, she exists as a threatened agent of penitential action for others. She is a pesky, feeble instrument, to my thinking.

            So, overall, although it got me thinking, I have to say I loathed this play. I just wanted them all to die right away – and judging by the number of times people requested and threatened death throughout, I do not seem to have been alone in this. I especially, by the final act, was ready to reach through the page and slaughter her father myself – after being fatally wounded, he just would not kick it!!!!! And could no one just turn off the self-righteous lamentations long enough to slit Calista’s throat or something?? Sadly, they caught the Oroonoko plague….and I now understand the “worse misfortunes” than death in Horatio’s final speech to be a lack of it… 

March 29, 2007

If My Dad Called Me a Slut, I’d Cry…

Filed under: Uncategorized — anneinez @ 4:23 pm

Well, I have been remiss when it comes to posting. Damn. But here I am, also a beggar, trying to make up for it and redeem myself, something rather out of character with this play.

I can’t say, first of all, that I could really picture any of these characters bursting out into song, so I would really love to hear this play performed. I think it would be great…

What was also great about this play, to me, was how it seemed to invert the oh so frequently encountered idea of artificiality, in the form of manners and marital deceit, gone hand in hand with the shining examples of true love in that one lucky couple per play. This time, all those affected ways of speaking, the politely couched insults were thrown out the window for an astounding proliferation of sluts, hussies and strumpets and not a single lover was entirely true to another. Good show. It was also fascinating that, for all this play was obviously about economic concerns with the highwaymen and what have you, there was no need to go on about marriage and its economic consequences. It was too obvious. I found it refreshing to hear Lockit to go on about how “of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one. Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.” How true! I got this huge reality TV backstabbing switching allegiances vibe (that’d be a way to revamp survivor – make it into an opera…)

But anyway, I suppose I liked this preditorial view most of all because this play really was about vicious people who not only double crossed because they had to, for their own survival, but out of a real sense of vengeance, like Lucy, who is glad Polly escaped the poisoned gin, if only because “she was not happy enough to deserve to be poisoned.” Really, with those words, John Gay captured the essence of bitch. Good job.

 I am continuing to think as I type this, and it just struck me as interesting how willing women are in these plays, when inspired by jealousy, to double cross and deceive each other, but the men, although they may cheat women, are generally faithful to each other. Macheath is a remarkable man whore, he brings it to an artform really, but he has the complete, well-deserved, and redeeming loyalty to his band of men.  Really, the women are the enemies here…must be the daddy issues…

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