Monday, January 28, 2013

Contrived Love? Can You Be Tricked into Falling in Love?

Love is a feeling, an emotion. Emotions can be tricky things. They can rise up unexpectedly, a rush of anger, a flash of fear, or a burgeoning feeling of excitement.  And just as quickly those feelings can disappear, become only a distant memory. What about love? Can it be planned, contrived, manipulated?
Can you make someone fall in love with someone else?

Suppose you had two friends who absolutely hated each other. Every time you got together socially and they were in the room, they just couldn't stop trading insults to the point where they ruin the party for everyone. Well, dear reader, maybe you should go all Shakespeare on their trim backsides, and suggest a little more affection between them.

I love Shakespeare's plays. I find his contrived scenes vastly entertaining and also very complex. The story of Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado about nothing is no exception. These two people cannot stand each other. Beatrice sees Ben as a real pain in the ass, and as for our man Benedick, well he thinks she's quite the sour harpy.

Here is a little glance into their shared dislike:
Beatrice, aka Bea
Beatrice: I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick: nobody marks you.
Benedick: What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?
Beatrice: Is it possible disdain should die while she hath such meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick? Courtesy itself must convert to disdain, if you come in her presence.
Benedick: Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I am loved of all ladies, only you excepted: and I would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard heart; for, truly, I love none.
Beatrice: A dear happiness to women: they would else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I thank God and my cold blood, I am of your humour for that: I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.
Benedick: God keep your ladyship still in that mind! so some gentleman or other shall 'scape a predestinate scratched face.
Beatrice: Scratching could not make it worse, an 'twere such a face as yours were.
Benedick: Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.
Beatrice: A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.
Benedick: I would my horse had the speed of your tongue, and so good a continuer. But keep your way, i' God's name; I have done.
Benedick, aka Ben

And so they go on, continually. 

Well, during a week long wedding party, the household decided to play a little trick on these very publicly avowed enemies.  

The male members of the party decide on a little diversion during the week long house party for their own amusement. They come up with a plan to try to convince the warring pair that the other one is love with him/her. It is a subtle suggestion, carefully laid, with a wager among the men that by the end of the week, the heretofore contrary pair will be deeply and madly in love with each other. 
It seems as if it will be destined to failure.  

But alas, the power of suggestion is strong, Isn't that why we succumb to commercials convincing us we REALLY need this product we wouldn't otherwise buy?  Happens all the time. So what if, by design, your friends decided they were sick of your bickering with Ben, and played a trick on you both, suppose they start suggesting that Ben is really secretly in love with you, and he hides it beneath his pretense of sharp barbs?  Would it work?  

The men of the party elicit the women's aid; the women work on Beatrice, while the men work on convincing Ben of this contrived affection. 

Suddenly, both Beatrice and Benedick start to question their own perceptions. "Ah ha, did I sense some double meaning int that put down so coldly delivered . . .?"   
Not really . . . they meant every nasty word! But it works!  By the end of the play, both Bea and Ben are seeing the other in a new light, seeing the good in the other and feeling really, really flattered and a little giddy with excitement to find out that they are secretly adored! 

And suddenly they are in love. Manipulated into the fickle emotion, but there you have it, deeply in love. Ben is so enthralled with Bea that he's ready to challenge a man to a duel to prove his love for her!  At the beginning of the story he despised her, called her a bitter old maid, a nag and so many other things that weren't complimentary in the least. By the end of the story, he's ready to kill for her, because he loves her and can't stand to see her weeping over her cousin's ill use. 

And they say Shakespeare is boring. Hmmm . . .  I guess he is if you don't like drama, love, poetry, or sarcastic wit . . .there's always Beavis and Butthead! 

Beatrice and Benedick of Much Ado About Nothing are timeless lovers. They remind us that yes, love is possible, even contrived, manipulated love!  

There is a great movie version of this story, Much Ado About Nothing, 1993, staring Kenneth Brannagh as Benedick and Emma Thompson as Beatrice. It is a very engaging, witty, fun adaption that is sure to please any true Shakespeare fan, as the dialogue is not tampered with--it's Shakespeare at its best.  
 Click here to view Video Trailer

Go ahead, fall in love..... or plot and scheme to make your sister fall in love, consider it a great social experiment. What should we call it? Going along with the Big Bang Theory's odd little tag lines, suppose we call it   The Shakespeare Manipulation.  

No comments:

Post a Comment