Thursday, April 3, 2014

Act I, Scene I: Tears

"BERTRAM:  And I in going, madam, weep o'er my father's death anew..."

Photographs:  A Drop of Water
Light reflected off the surface of a pot full of water.  Drops of water kept falling from the faucet into the pot, making a lens out of dirty dishes.

Later in the scene, we read of Helena, "LAFEW:  Your commendations, madam, get from her tears.

COUNTESS: Tis' the best brine a maiden can season her praise in.  The remembrance of her father never approaches her heart but the tyranny of her sorrows takes all livelihood from her cheek.  No more of this, Helena.  Go to, no more, lest it be rather thought you affect a sorrow than to have.

HELENA:  I do affect a sorrow indeed, but I have it too.

The Countess raises the issue of authenticity with Helena, but not with her son.  He is not weeping, though he speaks of weeping.  The appearance of Helena's grief is monitored, but not Bertram's.

When Helena is left alone, she says, "I think not on my father, And these great tears grace his remembrance more Than those I shed for him.  My imagination Carries no favour in't but Bertram's.  I am undone!"

In the edition I consult, the notes say that "his" remembrance refers to Bertram, and the "him" in "I shed for him" is her father, as if she is mixing pronouns in one sentence.  I disagree, and believe that when she writes of gracing his remembrance, it is the remembrance of her father.  Her tears for Bertram grace the remembrance of her father because those witnessing them do not know the truth.

There is another layer, too, because it is possible that she desires Bertram more because of the loss of her father.  It is her way of grief, without knowing it, and an affirmation of life and loss at once, particularly since she does not think that her desire will not be satisfied.  She has transferred her missing her father to the Countess's son.

I use the dirty dishes in my photographs as a metaphor for how the past influences our current projections.

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