Monday, 21 January 2008
i typed p 'mariana' in a real hurry and didn't tell what the story is about, so am just going to give a quick background/context.
regular readers will remember "bianca" - a story or monologue that told the story of bianca in Othello, a marginal character who plays Cassio's lover, and a prostitute. I liked the idea of writing about silent women in Shakespeare, so thought I'd test it again on Mariana, a character in Measure for Measure. If ever there was a plot device, then Mariana is IT!
IN Measure for Measure, the Duke of Venice decides the sexy rough and tumble of the city has gotten well out of hand, and decides to leave it in the hands of Angelo, an austere sexual puritan, to see how he will deal with controllng the excesses of the city. Angelo was once engaged to Mariana, but dumped her when she lost her brother and her dowry, and she retired to the moated grange to weep. (im simplifying here folks). One of the first things Angelo does in power is condemn a man named Claudio to death for having got his lady, Juliet, pregnant, before marrying her. Claudio asks his nun sister, Isabella, to plead for his life, and the cold and chaste Angelo immediately falls in lust with her. He promises Isabella her brother will be freed, if she has sex with him.
She's a nun so this suggestion isn't great for her. But, the Duke has meanwhile disguised himself as a monk, and advises Isabella to ask Mariana to disguise herself with a veil, and have sex with Angelo in her place.
So, you can see what i mean when i say Mariana is a plot device. Her body is the solution to the plays problem. (in a way, it gets more complicated still later on). Shakespeare uses her sex as a means to an end, and she is used. horribly.
i wanted to see what mariana thought of it all. whether she is as helpless and compliant as the play may suggest. she begs for angelo's life at the end. but did she have her own reasons?
hope that clears up the background to her monologue.
Thursday, 17 January 2008
i have weird experiences with memory. a lot of the time i will notice a smell that may exist just in my imagination but which reminds me of my auntie's farm. a particular disinfectant has me washing up dog bowls in the shed, or a certain oatiness places me in her food shed, spooning feed in to the horse's bucket. salt on my skin crystallzing from having been walking along the beach nearby on a windy day, and the scratchy feeling of wool against frozen fingertips.
i was listening to missy elliott and like a thundercrack between the headphones and my ears and my brain i was back in my old house, paralysed and screaming because a lie had been exposed, and i was the object of the lie. the force of the memory made me gag, like the smell of the wheelbarrow after mucking out the horse's field.
its a throwaway thing, it can be, someone's body. like a newspaper with a headline about britney spears. it makes no difference the following morning, it has no impact. it can be brushed away like a lie.
it isn't so easy to throw away your own.
Vindication. That is what i have longed for most of all, all those days, sitting and waiting, sitting and waiting, sitting and waiting. Vindication. I'd whisper it under my breath. I'd like the way the syllables tripped off my tongue. slowly. it is a slow process, a slow word.
i have been in his bed, once. even now we are married, the only time i have felt his touch was that once, before our wedding day, when disguised i came to his bed and felt the fervour of fingers, the desire of his tongue, and uncontrolled lust as he called out a name that wasn't my own. And despite the responsiveness that filled my body, i had to control my laughter of "Yes! This is it! This is where it begins!"
i had him then. wrapping my legs around his hips and pressing my cunt against his body, i fantasised squeezing the life from his heaving belly, as he had so carelessly thrown my life, my love aside to leave me sitting and waiting, alone. Choking on my hidden laughter as his hungry tongue gripped my breasts, that his cold austerity, his stinging purity could be so wiped out by a woman's body, a woman's body that belongs to another who sleeps alone with her God. i snatch at his desire, take it between my hands and squeeze it tight to me and think "This is mine, now. This is mine."
They did not understand why i begged for his life. i! who had been so used, so wronged, wanting to see my husband live! My husband, my man. and who was it, i ask, who used me most, eventually? not him, i am convinced of that much. not him and his cold fingers, not him who placed my body on the sacrificial alter, to be split open by the force of his love for another. i gave my body to the joy of many parties, like a savage girl offered up to the gods in strange lands.
anyway, it is immaterial. i didn't ask for him to be saved. it was his life i wanted, but not his salvation. i cannot get my vin-dic-a-tion if he did not live. i had to see him live, and i had to see him live with me, and i had to watch him live, with me, every day, every night, until nature or her God, took him in their own sweet time.
so many days spent sitting and waiting. for a long time i continued to love him. foolish child i was. convinced he would realise his mistake, realise what i was, what i meant, what my love could do. Howling. It was the only way to explain it, the alien foreign noise that i hurled from my body. howls that i willed to travel over the walls of my moated grange to the high windows of the ducal palace where he held the power now, in the duchy which i should possess, where he first laid eyes on the woman who for one night i would become.
to love someone, what does it mean? i no longer really understand the processes. i loved, a past tense. i loved him. blushing and pure, my body intact as he kissed my hand. yet, i was so young then! i was so young and the world dazzled brightly, brighter than i can remember now. a bird would leave me breathless, the freshness of grass under my feet a sensual experience. convinced, i was, of love. repeated to me over and over - you love him, you will marry, you will love him - passive victim of love. was it my love? my love?
i try not to think of these questions. it doesn't matter anymore. whether i loved him. whether i love him. the hurt was there. the hurt was real, was what counted. what matters what drives you, hate or love? i was driven by him.
i feel that i know what my accomplice - can i call her that? felt for me. although she thanked me, although she praised me, her eyes spoke a language her tongue wouldn't speak.
there are many words and that was the word i read most clearly on her motionless face. maybe i was too willing to give up what she holds too dear. but i had waited too long, i had cried and i had howled and i had spent too many nights sleeping with an itch in the back of my head and between my legs to think of propriety, to think cherished jewels. it is my body, and i use it as i wish. it is my body and it is my revenge. it was her face that led to his undoing, but it was my body that was the willing tool. my breasts, my thighs, my belly and my cunt that enveloped him and drew his stern and deadened countenance to liveliness. no matter if my body is the slut. my body is my own. not her's not the duke's, mine.
and now, now we are married. every morning he wakes up to see the body he refuses to touch, having gripped it once before between convlusing fingers. i smile and say good morning darling and one day, from habit of hearing it, he will repeat the words. the air hangs chilly between us at the breakfast table as pour drinks and eat, him chewing each mouthful nervously, as though the tasting of it dries the roof of his mouth and makes his teeth itch. i chatter gaily about the rain hitting the window panes, or the sun that shines through the shutters, twittering like the birds that hop on the branches outside in the grounds he daren't venture beyond, for fear of the mocking town. he grinds his teeth, he sets his jaw. he won't meet my eye.
around us all the time, in every move we make, in every particle of air that makes up the atmosphere of our house, lies the sense of the alternative. it eats him up inside, everyday, the knowledge that i saved his life in order for him to live the life he hates.
The power is mine now.
Friday, 4 January 2008
so ive been off the hook lately, but i promise as soon as i get my new computer i will rebegin blogging again in earnest. just so busy with work and job hunting and not having my own computer.
meanwhile you can read my articles on rockfeedback.com and Bianca was published on thethingis.co.uk
i promise - soon!