Thursday, March 22, 2007


It was something Nathan said about "Beatrice and Benedick and how we all want to be them but in real life we often aren't." Last night I watched Becoming Jane and was reminded. It's a fun film, pretty preposterous (my housemate Sophia was amused to learn a new word, she hadn't come across it before) and sentimental, but good for a girls' night out. There's an early scene in which Jane (Anne Hathaway, what is it with getting Americans to play Brits? She did it very well though) and the love interest Tom LeFroy (the very pretty James McAvoy) are dancing and sparring verbal points off each other as they dance. It's fun to watch them, knowing that they're as much fascinated by each other as they are irritated.

What is it that we love about witty pairs of lovers? Historically, Beatrice and Benedick have always been the favourite characters of Much Ado About Nothing. They're so much more interesting and human than the rather sappy Hero, who hardly says anything (I liked the production I saw once in which she was always trying to speak and being cut off by her father or uncle) and the idiotic Claudio. I think it's that we want to be witty, to have clever things to say and win the argument, but also that we want to have relationships that are alive and sparkling, where the other person provokes us, draws us out, makes us more alive.

They're a dangerous pair to emulate. It would be easy to look only at their verbal sparring and build relationships that are nothing but fine words. Perhaps more crucial than their friends' trickery in showing them their true feelings is the moment of testing provided by Claudio's rejection of Hero. In the chilling moment when Beatrice tells Benedick to "Kill Claudio", he must decide whether love for his friend or love for Beatrice is more important. Not that asking your boyfriend to kill his best friend is a good test for whether he loves you, but at the time where it matters, Benedick proves that there is more to their relationship than words and argument.

So why aren't we like Beatice and Benedick? Or Elizabeth and Darcy or any other pair of literary lovers? We aren't scripted by a genius for a start. We live in the real world, where arguments about silly petty things or big ones can hurt and wit can wound more than it means. Love is in the mundane and quotidian as much as in the sparkling and the heat. But it's also in the fizz as much as in the everyday. Either without the other would be incomplete.


Elly said...

What was the new word?

HP said...

preposterous surely (?)
whats with the title? what about the post is glittering or flashing?

Lauren said...

neat entry.
I've wondered the same thing before. I think part of the reason is that in the story you know there will be a happy ending, but in real life you don't know how the story ends. At least in American lit there's always a happy ending as a type of escape from reality, which more often ends poorly and sadly.
I think as Christians we have the benefit of basing our friendships and relationships on a Godly foundation where they are built to glorify Christ.
...just my two cents.

Pig wot flies said...

Yes HP, preposterous was the new word. And it's about wit, repartee, which can be sparkling. In fact coruscating is often misused to mean penetrating or withering because it is so often used in the phrase 'coruscating wit'.

Lauren: I think as Christians we have the benefit of basing our friendships and relationships on a Godly foundation where they are built to glorify Christ.

Yes we do! I was thinking more of the way in which relationships work out in the way we live them, but that's an important point. Spitefulness doesn't glorify God, but I think the sparks of wit created by the interaction of two people who love each and bring out the best in each other can.

elly said...

So have you found your Benedick yet? (Said with tongue in cheek)

The King and I said...

I loved Becoming Jane. I even cried at the end. Possibily very sad of me i know. But I loved Tom Lefroy and I loved their fascination and irritation with eachother. I may blog about this film too, but not before I blog about Amazing Grace. You look well in your picture too. Love Angelala xx