Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Crutch

As I type this I'm watching what must be one of the worst productions of The Two Gentlemen of Verona ever committed to cheap BBC video. I am too curious to see how they stage the rape/forgiveness/human trafficking finale to turn it off, but this staging is a perfect example of why people hate and fear Shakespeare. It's foreign, false, melodramatic and the actors are all douchebags.
I'll have more to say about this play before I move on to Othello, but first there's a couplet I want to look at more closely.
Act 3 Scene 1. Proteus has just orchestrated Valentine's banishment from Milan by telling Sylvia's father that Valentine planned to elope with her that evening. Now Proteus is comforting his friend even though he was the agent of his grief. Proteus says:

Hope is a lover's staff; walk hence with that
And manage it against despairing thoughts.

I've been in love twice in my life. They were two different kinds of love because they were two different girls. Both ended sloppily, but when the first one ended I held on for so long. Much longer than is healthy I'm sure. At one point I told her that I was optimistic and that I had hope that we would be together in the future. She told me that hope undoes optimism. Because when you hope you long for things you don't have, and in order to be optimistic you have to see the good in things the way they are.
"Hope is a lover's staff." When I read this I see a crutch. I see the lovelorn hobbling back toward something, when, if they dropped the crutch, they'd find they could walk ably in other directions.
As things went bad with the second girl I didn't hope. I didn't want the crutch. I dropped it and walked away too soon.
My dad gives notoriously misinterpreted advice. For example he used to say to me: "Never close any doors." Meaning that you always want to have choices and opportunities, but what I took away from that was: Never make any decisions. Which is obviously a stupid way to live. But there is one thing he says that's always been helpful: "Everything in moderation."
There's a time for the crutch. It's very useful right after you've been injured. But once things are mended you can put it away. Just remember where you put it. Bones and hearts are always in danger of being broken again.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful! If this were facebook, I'd "like" this.