Friday, April 20, 2012

the deep comedy in shakespeare

Deeper comedy, stories that end better than they begin. This is the Christian’s motif—the one that points to the hope we have that, as the story progresses, it just gets better. Greek stories, unlike those written with the concept of self-denial in order to glorify God, are always depressing. Heroes, puffed up with hubris and concerned only for their own good, strut in and out of situations, involving themselves only in what would make them look good. When they found some cause that mattered to them, then the rest of the story centered on them and their great deeds ultimately leaded to an “honorable” death. Glory was ascribed to their names and tales of their might and nobility were told for ages to come. This paradigm was set on its head when, with utmost humility and self-sacrifice, Christ slew death and triumphed in resurrected life. Now people must look to an end of more than making themselves look good. The world does not center on individuals, emphasizing their particular achievements, rather the concept of living for others, through which hardships will be turned into good, is paramount. After this deeper magic of the vicarious atonement for sin was bled, the world has explored a new genera of storytelling; one where the victorious is weak and humble, one where the story actually gets better in the end.

Shakespeare gets at the heart of this in his play Twelfth Night. Tragedy is turned comic, identities are mistaken, loves are misplaced and wrongly given, but at the end of this play Shakespeare turns what would otherwise have been yet another tragedy into a comedy. He twists the circumstances around and surprises the audience by untangling many sticky situations and weaves them into the bigger picture. It is because of Christianity that we can see the humor surrounding us in this world—it is laughable. Sadly most of the world does not see it as such, but rather, without the expectancy of a redemptive Hero the prospects are rather bleak. Their stories wrestle with dark and clumsy themes of pride and end with depressing scenes. However, in this play, relationships are restored; but this story does not end there. These circumstances are embellished, not simply repaired—identities are discovered and lovers are united. This hope of resolution and peace leads to the final chapter, where it is life, not death, which closes the story. And here Shakespeare leaves us trusting that whatever else may happen to the characters, it will all work out for good. 

No comments: