A Shakespearean Glance at the People and Issues of the Day.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Bard on Brad (Jen and Angelina)


"There's nothing ill can dwell in such a temple.
If the ill spirit have so fair a house,
Good things will strive to dwell with 't."

That's Miranda's opinion about Ferdinand, offered in The Tempest. Do we agree? Do people like Brad, Jennifer and Angelina find good things striving to dwell within the fair houses of their fair bodies? Do their arresting bone structures and pleasant wrappings of flesh compel what is ill to flee from entry?

Well, Miranda, we should remember, was abandoned from the age of three with her dispossessed father on a desert island. Ferdinand was the first normal guy that she encountered.

"You are the cruelest she alive
If you will lead these graces to the grave
And leave the world no copy."

Viola says this to Olivia in Twelfth Night. It is a favorite theme of Shakespeare's, the obligation to perpetuate one's graces through reproduction. Infertility is a tragedy or at least a challenge for many married couples, who have with solemn dignity pledged themselves to each other in marriage, hopeful of children, and have then met with this difficult fate. For many adoption follows. But Brad can't adopt unless he marries someone, or unless someone marries him. Meanwhile Angelina is effectively cuckolding Brad with the children of other men (if of other women as well), right before our eyes:

"...On each side her
Stood pretty dimpled boys, like smiling cupids,
With divers-coloured fans, whose wind did seem
To glow the delicate cheeks which they did cool,
And what they undid did."

A description of Cleopatra offered by Enobarbus. The smiling cupids are hers, not Brad's. Yup, Brad is starting to look a wee bit foolish, with aspirations toward love, marriage and possible fatherhood - all pleasantly set aside in favor of a swamp of sex. While exceptions need to be made for a woman like Angelina, it's all just a bit unbecoming in a forty-year-old man. He might've kept his mouth shut about his conflicting desires.

"To you your father should be as a god;
One that composed your beauties, yea, and one
To whom you are but as a form in wax
By him imprinted..."

Theseus in Midsummer's Night Dream. I thought I'd be writing about the catfight between the two women, but I find myself focusing on Mr. Pitt, a strangly passive figure being publicly eaten alive by Angelina, as his mature years dwindle away, the woman he might find to realize this happy ambition (if Angelina won't permit him to jump on the runaway train of her own single-mothered family) still unsought, unfound, their relationship unforged.

But I have my objections to Jen and Angelina as well. Ordinarily it would be none of our business as to why these two ladies don't or didn't want to bear children. But it's obvious by now that they are both playing to the crowd, Jen for sympathy, and Angelina by waving her beauty like a magic wand that can wash away the knowledge of how bad her movies have been, what a low opinion of her audience they reveal.

As public figures these women owe a certain deference to the millions of couples who do marry, and who stay married, who do render society more orderly and dignified by removing their volatile sexual desires from the public sphere, who do desire to bear children and to bear all the related sacrifices of child-rearing within the stable home of marriage. Theirs are serious lives, and they should not be lived under the checkout line shadow of such frivilous ones.

"Thou art thy mother's glass, and she in thee
Calls back the lovely April of her prime."

P.S. Here's a related post from the newly discovered (for bardseye) A Blog For All.

P.S.: Here a related and recommendable post from the always recommendable Betsy's Page.

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