Friday, September 9, 2016

Entering the Woods

One of the enjoyable things about homeschooling is that I get to learn alongside of my children.  And the newest thing that is occurring is that I'm falling in love with Shakespeare. The breadth and depth of his genius was not known to me before now; I'd had a brush with Romeo and Juliet in high school, and another with Macbeth.  Nothing in college--only references in other classes, and going to see a few Shakespeare productions.  And of course, I read his sonnets!

 This morning I had a watershed moment--one of those wonderful dawnings of consciousness that strips back a layer and reveals something new.  (Don't you love these? I live for them.) 

I encountered a scenario where a woman felt unsafe in her home and removed herself and her children from the home in the middle of the night.  And the responses she got included questions of her perception of the situation, invalidation of her fear, etc. 

And at the same time I'd been deep in thought over "Midsummer Night's Dream." I'd been thinking about the tension in the play between civilization and the woods.  In the first part, we're in Athens and things are "orderly"--but the order includes egregious rules, like a father being able to choose his daughter's husband or else have her put to death.  In the second part, we're in the woods.  And that's the interior life of confusion and identity-stripping, of reorganizing perceptions, of struggling.  And the confusion of this interior life ends up allowing the characters, when they do emerge from the woods and go back into civilization in the end, to a new order that makes sense, with identities appropriately restored.  And I asked my friend: why do we insist on living in the first act of the play and not going into the woods?  Why do we do this?

And when we are invalidating the fear of someone and insisting that All is Probably Fine in her life  (even though there was a strong indication that things are not fine), we're stubbornly clinging to Act I.  We don't want her to go into the woods because, I guess, it would mean we might have to follow her and the woods are scary.  In the woods, we don't have the normal constructs and rules that order our lives and that make us feel protected. It's disorienting.  But if we don't go in, we can't emerge on the other side with the world ordered in a manner that merges the exterior life with the interior life in any kind of meaningful way.  

And Shakespeare did all this with wit and poetry while writing in iambic pentameter!  How could I not fall in love with him?!

No comments:

Post a Comment