Friday, October 21, 2005
The Bard on Brad (and Jen and Angelina)
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 fatherhood - all pleasantly mired in 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 waxBy 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 Brad, a strangly passive figure being publicly eaten alive by Angelina, as his child-rearing 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 if indeed they don't, then as public figures I think a certain deference is owed 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 who are unable to have them. 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."
(NOTE: please recall that I am shifting all blogging to my new blog at;