Friday, January 6, 2017

Hell hath no fury -- but I do.

Hell hath no fury -- but I do. I keep it in a jar with pins stuck in it, so it will be extra angry when I take it out. 'Cause that's how I roll.

Let's look another often used quote. It seems to be all I'm good for on Google.

"Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."

This line is from a play, The Mourning Bride by William Congreve (1670-1729). It's shortened from the original line, "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned."

The basic meaning is that rejection pisses women off and they now have all the hate. Mr. Congreve didn't seem to think much of women. Or maybe he did and this was a compliment in his mind, that in an era where women were looked on as weaker creatures. Perhaps for him to say women are strong enough to possess a rage to rival any fury out of hell. And they thought hell was a pretty nasty place back then. So if nothing out of HELL could be greater than a woman scorned she must be pretty strong, hm?

The deeper meaning is that intensity of love, when rejected, transforms to an anger just as great. Because we love deeply we also hate deeply, and when we're thrown away it gets on our nerves and we have to school your ass as to why that was stupid.

Anyway, the true opposing emotional expression isn't love, it's indifference. When you're indifferent you just. don't. care. This rage thing is a mutation of love, indifference is when love just stops. 

Or maybe I'm thinking of this the wrong way. Maybe. 

Another proverb often quoted is from that same play, "Music has charms to soothe the savage beast."

This line has been changed a bit, though I have heard it said the original way too, "Music has charms to soothe the savage breast." 

Breast used to just mean chest, the upper anterior portion of the torso. Usually it's usage is associated with a physical expression of emotion. Like she clutched pearls to her breast and gasped. Or he dropped to his knees, beating a fist upon his breast, sobbing

Old-timey usage of course. You'll probably get a funny look from most people nowadays, if you say something like, "I was so scared my heart nearly jumped out of my breast," in conversation. Especially if you're a male. They might sidle away from you too. Just so you know.

I wonder if this play is any good. I wonder if it's still performed.

Anyway, the writer of the Encyclopedia Britannica online article on William Congreve feels that Congreve was a "dramatist who shaped the English comedy of manners through his brilliant comic dialogue, his satirical portrayal of the war of the sexes, and his ironic scrutiny of the affectations of his age."
He must have spent a fortune on hair spray.

William Congreve oil painting
by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1709; in the National Portrait Gallery, 
Courtesy of The National Portrait Gallery, London

I'd never heard of him until I looked up the origin of the quote. Except for dying in a carriage accident he had a pretty cushy life for a writer. Damn him.

Well, that's it for now.

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