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Notes On the Notes On The Scandal

By       Message Mark Sashine     Permalink
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(Article changed on October 21, 2012 at 09:03)

(sideways   essay)

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An overwhelming   majority of first sexual contacts between the    teenagers   are in fact rapes even if those are never reported as such.

There, I said it.   I   had just watched the movie   "Notes   On The Scandal' in which a   woman- teacher   has an affair with a teenage boy somewhere in England.   The woman is played by Kate Blanchett. Judy Dench co -- stars as an old spinster- teacher with lesbian tendencies.   The affair was discovered, the   woman went   to   jail,   life went   on. That's in a nutshell.   Before going deeper I would like to   recruit a powerful ally- Bill Shakespeare himself or rather   his   protagonists Romeo and Juliet. They will help me as always.

As   Juliet's age is defined   in a play explicitly   (her father   says that she   is not   less than 14 years old), our dear Western theatrical folks    in an attempt to avoid Romeo being charged   for a statutory rape   usually rise her age and lower his. They make those two a pair of horny teenagers with   raging hormones,   candidates either for Prozac or for a Twilight Zone. As a result   we watch an American Pie story   happening in Verona, Italy. The   spectators from the Elizabethan times would have   thrown rotten apples at such a nonsense. They knew their time and Bill S. knew that too.

Yes, Virginia , Juliette was about 13.5 years old. Her mother gave birth to her   at even   more tender age.   In those times it was quite a normal thing; people matured earlier as personalities and died earlier too. They could not afford   sex education   classes and   waiting for the prom night to lose their   virginity. A man was to   assume   the men's responsibilities at 18, the age when he could handle a sword and a woman- she should be able   to bear children. Mind you,   old Capulet,   Juliette's father   (a man of about 35- 40) was progressive- he considered that 16 would be an ideal age for his daughter to become a wife.

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It is   that   very Capulet who    gives us some clues about Romeo. For some strange reason   he, the mortal enemy of   Montagues, the Romeo's family,   pays   tribute to a young man, calls him   wise and righteous,   mentions   that Romeo was respected in Verona   for   his politeness and   good deeds and adamantly   rebukes his nephew Tybalt when that one wants to expose Romeo who   covertly   joined   to the Capulet's annual    ball.   That tells us two things: that Romeo was considered a mature adult- that places him at the age   18 or more and-   that Capulet maybe would not mind deep in his   heart if somehow that obviously   honorable youngster would   become a part of his family and thus   stop the stupid feud which led to so   many deaths. Then we find out from Romeo's friends that he already had    passions and that he    (inadvertently) was considered among the young men as   an unofficial leader: they were a daring bunch   but they all respected him more than a friend; they respected him as an older and wiser person. His friend Mercutio   deliberately   and   very   respectfully   makes sure he    is   protected from possible   immediate   risks, sort of presuming that Romeo is there for something outstanding. Romeo himself, from the moment when he appears on the stage presents himself as a man of   a powerful confidence,   honorable but not violent, protective   but not   pig- headed, educated, very caring about his friends   and possessing   some kind of authority which comes only with experience and personality. Romeo is a true good man of his time and that puts him   in the age of about 21   or so. Then it all falls into place: a   young, but fully mature man   woes a   woman   of the   childbearing age to   become his wife.   That simple.

  One particular   idea    shines through the whole play: Romeo, Juliet and   ALL    personalities   are absolutely and unequivocally fearless.   They   have no fear in their hearts; their behavior is utterly natural. Juliet   appears to be   up to the challenge to fall in love and defend   the feeling. Her intentions are honorable   from    the beginning to the end: she pursues   love, marries a man she loves, then rejects the idea of deceiving God in a second marriage, joins willingly the plot    to reunite with her true husband and when finding out about    the tragic   mistake -- kills herself.   Not only that set of events   is   entirely honest and honorable- she is courageous beyond   belief.   Juliet rises in her last moments to the heights of   Biblical heroines.

Romeo is definitely her true pair. He demonstrates   all the good qualities of a real man.   In   hope to   unite with Juliet peacefully he   restrains his     friends   from fighting with the Capulets, even offers Tybalt his friendship. When Mercutio decides to provoke Tybalt, so that once and for all to get rid of the dangerous man who was an obstacle on   the Romeo's   way to happiness, Romeo tries to interfere and becomes an unwilling cause of his friend's mortal wound.   At that   moment he   does his man's duty- he   absolutely   calmly and precisely lures Tybalt    into   the fight   with a clear   intention to kill him. Romeo   knew that he was a   better swordsman than Tybalt;   he   was avenging his dear friend and in his mind that was enough reason. He never stopped loving Juliet but   in the matters of honor he listened only to the voice of his conscience. And Juliet, BTW, never   held a grudge on him for that.

Romeo then is exiled and in a tragic mishap    they both die    at the doors of happiness. The feud   stops   forever   but the prize is enormous.

Through the whole   story   the truth of love shines brightly and   honestly; the   real, human love between the two   consenting and fully mature personalities who lived, loved, fought and died honorably   with full   feeling of their   time. There is not even a drop of hypocrisy in the story.

And now we return to that dreary   English school of our times.   And the first thing    you notice is an atmosphere of   molecular fear- everyone is afraid of everyone, whether individually or collectively.   Teachers are afraid of students, student are afraid of teachers. The Principal is afraid of   some mysterious bureaucracy and   everyone   talks as if on the edge. The   kids    look like savages and savages they are. It is obvious that the teachers don't care   for them; it even more obvious that their parents don't' care for them either. They   ramble about the school like a pack of wild dogs- always hungry, totally disconnected,   low- level personalities with primitive instincts who cannot even talk properly (I am not talking about an accent- the vocabulary of those kids is about   1/100000s of the one of Juliet), and those kids are our future?

Teachers don't   talk to each other, they do not know   anything about each other and even about themselves.   The old dame teaches History   but she doesn't give a damn about any other subject and for her it does not matter if   the students could have any interests at all.   She likes her cat more than those kids; she is in fact terrified of them. Sheba, the protagonist teaches art of sculpture. Obviously she is not vey good at it if she does not know that no one can become a good   or even minuscule sculptor without reading books   and not only on the subject but on history, math, painting and   music. Through the whole movie we never see   the teaching   process- it is as if we are witnessing   some kind of freak show.   BTW, in Romeo and Juliet we   can  find out a lot about everyday life of that time.

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The atmosphere in the movie is so   dreary you can   hang an axe in the room. Sheba lives with a man who is so full of himself that he    treats his family   as a pack of dogs for his amusement. They have a Down   Syndrome   child and that is a tragedy but   they   desperately play   a game of     a funny family   which results only   in them becoming   a bunch   of   loonies. In fact, what old spinster writes in her diary about the   family is absolutely true; Sheba is the only   alive person in that conundrum.

That affair was not   some flick- both the boy and Sheba wanted it.   He   was alone    in his rather simple-minded working -- class   family where he surely did not see much of a loving relationship (when his mother attacks Sheba after she   finds out we see that woman    in all her insignificance).   He   wanted it to be nice, he wanted   goodness in that first contact and Sheba felt it in her world of desperation. She was willing to   make love   with him right there, on the ground   between the rail carriages   because that   was his territory- she respected his   grounds and wanted to make him comfortable. There was no malice in both of   them- it was a result of a desperate search for goodness, obviously misled but understandable. He   cherished her, he defended   her honor, he   brought her presents and she felt true   gratitude and true   loyalty.

Both Sheba and   the boy are   perfectly normal (just very unhappy); it is that old    spinster who is mad. She had been sick for a long time. She is like a vulture preying on other people's   misfortunes to secure an abnormal, possessive   connection, to become a truly emotional parasite.   She betrays Sheba   in a blink of eye as soon as her scheme starts to crumble and   with an instinct of a real predator she chooses the perfect   weapon for   that malice- a male teacher    who came to her to discuss his feelings towards Sheba.

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The writer is 57 years old, semi- retired engineer, PhD, PE, CEM. I write fiction on a regular basis and I am also 10 years on OEN.

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