Arts, Entertainment & Media
January Sun 16, 2011
In the opening dialogue between Violaine and Pierre de Craon in Paul Claudel’s The Tidings Brought to Mary, you almost ask yourself whether Violaine’s stance in front of Pierre (he had previously attacked her with a knife) is either insidiously ingenuous or the actual gaze of a saint. Further along in act I she states how, at the age of eighteen, she knows her place, is “happy… free.” It is here that we begin to be convinced of how she is someone who recognizes something in reality that redeems every situation, including the leprosy she contracts almost willingly when she kisses Pierre as a sign of her forgiveness and magnanimity.
Craon, as well as Violaine’s younger sister Mara, are two people who both attempt to possess reality while Violaine is aware of the fact that she is possessed by the Maker of reality, and is thus free even from the evil and connivance these two character perpetrate against her.
Scholar and translator Robert Fitzgerald, in a discussion of Flannery O’Connor’s work, once said something to the effect that comedy is the supreme Christian literary form since in a world after the resurrection, there can be no tragic outcomes. The Tidings Brought to Mary would seem to our age like an ingenuous, anachronistic attempt at Catholic apologetics couched within the pretense of drama were it not for instances like this in real life of people whose level of trust in their Maker’s ability to bring about the good in makes them docile even in the face of evil suffered.
Four days ago a fifteen-year-old girl I teach wrote a persuasive essay as part of a midterm exam I gave her in which she argued against abortion by describing the life of a sixteen-year-old, pregnant as the result of rape, who carried her baby to term. I believed she was creating a hypothetical situation in order to convince the reader of her argument, until I reached the fourth paragraph—a one-line paragraph—in which she revealed that the woman she was writing about was her actual grandmother.
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