The Imperfectionists

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The new term for anti-vaxxers had to come out eventually, and here it is folks. I can already tell this is not a popular idea, but neither is sterilizing the planet (perfectionism). More and more prophetic types and organizations are stepping up to give their soliloquy. I am having déjà vu on “If you build it, they will come.” The ball field of prophetic worldwide is hosting some major league baseball players, and it would be good, if you profess the same religion to check it out. It turns out we don’t all think the same thing. There are varying views. But from a non-Christian perspective, who is reacting to the vaccination mandate? Fundamentalists in favour of religion? Hard core democratic proponents (this would equate to people against totalitarianism)? Vaccination sounds like an agenda and that makes people suspicious. If they’ve been had, why? What is so great or terrible about just going along with the crowd?

If democracy is legitimate, there will always be opposing parties to use rhetoric to debate and decide a resolution. There is a majority vote, displaying the preferences of the majority of the country. If the democracy of a country is dissolved, we next have a police state where the government can virtually use any measure to enforce their dictates. What we have been looking at as Covid unravels is a definite move toward force or police enforcement of every political whim, authority figures like doctors becoming dominant, and the people being used like pawns to mandate the law to each other. Eventually they may tell on each other, have each other given over to the state, to cite punitive measures. That would be nothing short of Nazi Germany if people sold out their friends and neighbours.

Where have we come from? We came out of communism (I would say as a Mennonite): we suffered for what we believed. It is our mandate not to let what happened to our grandparents happen again. They escaped, they fought in the ward, they immigrated etc. Yet, in the history of the earth and its varying periods, this is how social change was brought about. Suffering. Not a very popular concept. If you are not suffering right now, you probably know people who are. The idea that a vaccination is Saviour, that it will end our suffering if we all comply is the lie.

A vaccine will not end our suffering, in fact, we will know torment: it will intensify it. And that is the sad thing: we think we can escape the confines and restrictions of earth with a vaccine. There is no way out except through death. To be honest, no one wants to die, and 4.4 million people already have. But there is no one who will make it out of planet earth alive. When you were born to this earth you basically made an agreement that you would one day die. What you have to do before then is up to you.

An Old Bridge: imperfectionism

We are hard-pressed to quickly come up with a name and explanation for our avant-garde behaviour in the face of a pandemic. But working on this book, I am, and will share various ideas from the book with my readers.

First. There was and is a place where perfection in the mind exists, but it is unity with God, or a deity that we are able to conceive or perceive as perfect. Without a perfect deity–one that we fear instead of insult–there is no freedom from our own imperfections. That burden is now upon the deity. It is no longer on us.

Second. If a deity carried daily the burden of our imperfections, our “cross” so to speak, lack of peace and dissatisfaction our minds would be soothed as if with oil. We are able to conceive of excellence, and indeed, this is a much better goal than perfection.

Third. The power we wield over people would end them dead if we had the way of our carnal minds, or if they preferred our carnal minds to our spiritual ones–the more information we have, the more information we want–then we dissect the person. We think we are Michelangelo and want to sculpt a statue superior to our marked-up cadaver. We think people a miniscule study or experiment that is dispensable to science or art. The very beauty of their imperfections is effaced.

Fourth. The pains we take each day to make ourselves beautiful, presentable, and composed are at odds with the survivalist mentality where the priority is on life as it is, instead of how it appears. It occurs that one day we will be judged upon what we are, not how we act. They are at odds with the lowest of the street, often shunned as outcasts of society, where wearing makeup is a sign of money thus of harlotry. Those higher up in social classes, and leading more innocent lives certainly do not notice the attentions of men.

Fifth. Women would certainly not try to make such an effort to be composed in a psychiatric ward where they can barely justify scraping their faces off the floor, to coin a phrase by Joanne Greenberg (I Never Promised You a Rose Garden). This book I Never Promised You a Rose Garden is a semi-autobiographical novel by Joanne Greenberg, written under the pseudonym of Hannah Green. It served as the basis for a film in 1977 and a play in 2004 (Source: Wikipedia). According to Spark Notes, it is “a semi-autobiographical account of a teenage girl’s three-year battle with schizophrenia. Deborah Blau, bright and artistically talented, has created a world, the Kingdom of Yr, as a form of defense from a confusing, frightening reality.”

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Hannah Green is a classic I have been reading this year.

From Amazon’s review:

Enveloped in the dark inner kingdom of her schizophrenia, sixteen-year-old Deborah is haunted by private tormentors that isolate her from the outside world. With the reluctant and fearful consent of her parents, she enters a mental hospital where she will spend the next three years battling to regain her sanity with the help of a gifted psychiatrist. As Deborah struggles toward the possibility of the “normal” life she and her family hope for, the reader is inexorably drawn into her private suffering and deep determination to confront her demons. A modern classic, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden remains every bit as poignant, gripping, and relevant today as when it was first published.

Nipped in the Bud

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The expression “nipped in the bud” infers to “halt something at an early stage, or thoroughly check something. For example, By arresting all the leaders, they nipped the rebellion in the bud. This metaphoric expression, alluding to a spring frost that kills flower buds, was first recorded in a Beaumont and Fletcher play of 1606-1607.” (Source: › nipped+in+the+bud).

This poem by Emily Isaacson (depicting Earth talking to her Creator) uses this expression:

My day stretches

like a cat under a Freeman maple,

an invisible canopy over my heart,

covering love and hate,

Wagner in many ways.

I was once a cloistered stair,

then nipped in the cream bud.

A blind woman there,

I traveled in coals,

the dark was my cloak,

my bodice was stars,

my hair was fair as smoke,

as a spring moon before mars,

my eyes were rims of clear gold.

But now I bloom—

the sea rages, roses dip in the salt,

the cold red flowers succumb

by night . . .

Their reticent fingers

reach for covert grandeur.

“This idiom references gardening. A flower that is “nipped in the bud” wouldn’t grow and blossom. This phrase is often used to suggest that by handling something when it’s a minor problem, you’ll be able to avert a crisis.

It has nothing to do with anatomy.” (Source:

The incorrect version would be “Nip it in the butt.” The actual correct idiom has to do with an early frost halting the blossoming of the bud. You can see this for yourself in a mild climate such as the Fraser Valley in November or December. The rose buds literally freeze in winter and stay that way, like potpourri encased in ice.

Good to know if you’ve got an idiom correct. Even moreso a quote. If you quote a writer or poet, consider that you can’t just take a stab at it, look it up. You have to quote an exact line or verse for it to be correct. Particularly if its under copyright, and always reference the author. Quotes are a fine art. They are particularly lovely if you use them appropriately. I like to think of it as decorating the mantle.

Now that society is re-opening, you might see this circumstance more with the emphasis on the vaccine as saviour. The government would like to nip dissension in the bud, so we are all agreed this is the way. There is no other way. The Prime Minister today, on Canada Day, on TV, claims if you don’t go along with the government there may be consequences. This sounds like a thinly disguised threat.

Yet there are people that for religious reasons would go along with every other form of medical care, injections, vaccines and blood taking, yet refuse this offer. Why? because of the way they interpret the Bible, and because as Christians they believe they have a relationship with the living Christ. This stand would be that because the vaccine is connected to a number (a vaccine passport) and because everyone is numbered, and no one is exempt, they would correlate that in the Bible to the number of the Beast. This is definitely a Beast of a pandemic, but when it comes down to it, the idea that no one is exempt and that they will need a number to participate in the privileges of society was prophesied long ago by the apostle John on the Island of Patmos.

BC Weather during Oregon Fires by Emily Isaacson

We can’t deny that there are many signs in the heavens that we are reaching the time of the end. The moon has gone red from the fires, and the sky filled with sulphurous smoke. There are many world events to indicate this, stating with the fall of the twin towers and 9/11: the birth pangs, so to speak. Yet when it is right in front of us we don’t recognize it. We may think people who won’t participate are simply anti-vaxxers. I would like to think they are more organized than that. That they refuse the government’s offer to re-enter society because they are a sect of Christianity called ‘People of the Way’. Although this group of followers of Christ appeared in the First Century, it is my proposition that some of them are still around today. Let’s find out how many of them there are, and whether they are willing to take a stand for what they believe in spite of the legal persecutions.

Mary Magdalene

From Appearance of Jesus Christ to Mary Magdalene by Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov. Source: Wikimedia Commons

When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.

Mark 16:9-11 (NIV)

The archetype of the stigmatized woman is no better demonstrated than through Mary Magdalene. To understand how she was perceived the reputation of having a background as a harlot, you might need to understand the mentality of the Middle East. The Muslim culture has its own social stigmas, and traditional Judaism also. How we came out from under the patriarchal umbrella that defines women’s behaviour as sinful and their existence as that of lesser beings than men is still evolving in the present day church as we accept modern interpretations or perceptions of the Bible, such as the story of Dinah in The Red Tent. The Bible has traditionally told this account of her story as a cover-up for the violent retribution of her father and brothers, who killed a hundred men. All this while not considering her point of view, or the stigma against Gentile husbands at her time.

The Bible does not confirm the notion that the Christian Religion does not have many women, perceived sinful or otherwise, for its heroes. In fact, the lineage of Jesus includes Rahab, a prostitute. Her story is found in the book of Joshua, Chapter 4 and Chapter 6, 17-25. “She provides shelter and support to Israelite spies, who are on an intelligence-gathering mission in her hometown of Jericho, a gated city in Canaan. Through her actions, she demonstrates faith in and allegiance to God” (Source: Yet when people see women selected for various roles in ministry are they more likely to criticize them than men. Are men unwilling to come under the leadership of women even though women are in leadership in the church, and have been selected and anointed by God. Do Christians still insist in a medieval way that women will dominate men with witchcraft if given the opportunity. That view is very biased, assuming that women are innately sinful without male domination; instead of the covenant paradigm of Jesus Christ indwelling every person who is called by his name. That indwelling presence is what turns us from a sinner to a saint. We realize our error in misperceiving women through the lens of male-dominated religion and patriarchy. Even in the modern world, the Muslim religion carried on its death threats against women who do not religiously follow its rules.

For example the story from Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

“One afternoon, just after Ijaabo settled into our apartment, a young woman, Fawzia, knocked at our door, looking for Abdellahi Yasin. She told him she had no where to go. Fawzia had her three-year-old boy with her. The child was the son of someone Abdellahi know, an Osman Mahamud, but he was garac . . . born out of wedlock. Fawzia was alone, and she begged Abdehhahi to ask if she could stay in our house.

Abdellahi Yasin was embarrassed, but he came and told Ma and me the story. Ma got a look on her face like something smelled bad. She couldn’t have a prostitute in the house she said. I recoiled. There was nothing at all to indicate that Fawzia was a prostitute. I saw in front of me the image of the woman in the rag hut, in the camp. I said to Ma, “If you don’t let her stay, I’m leaving.”

It was a long struggle, but Mahad and Haweya backed me, and we won. Finally, Ma said, “She can stay but I don’t want to see her.” I found a clean sheet and a towel–those were the rarest things in our house-hold–and this poor woman ended up staying with us for a few months with her little boy. By that time, there were so many of us that Haweya Ijaabo, and I had to share a mattress.

To Ijaabo, Fawzia was the living face of shame, and she immediately embarked on a program to persuade her to repent her sinful ways and become a member of the Brotherhood. Ijjabo used to say,”The only way to wash off your shame is to pray, pray, pray and give your life to Allah, in search of forgiveness.” One evening when she was getting at Fawzia again, I snapped and told her to shut up–she was constantly irritating. I said Allah wouldn’t test us on whether we condemned somebody who became pregnant outside of marriage; He would rest us on our hospitality and charity.

Ijaabo quoted the Quran for the six-hundreth time that day. “The man and the woman who commit adultery, flog each of them on hundred time,” she said. I told, “Okay, here’s a stick. Since we don’t have Islamic law in Kenya, do you want to do the flogging?” Abeh, who was in the room at the time, laughed and took my side. Ijaabo acted angry and insulted for week.

Mahad and Haweya knew I was Abeh’s favorite, but they had also learned long ago not to complain about it. Jealousy is forbidden.

The Somalis all shunned Fawzia. When we never have dared to look at me that way: I was Hirsi Magan’s daughter. But Fawzia was known to all as a harlot, and she had no clan protector. She was prey.

Fawzia was used to the verbal and physical abuse. She was conditioned to believe that she deserved it. She told me to ignore Ijjabo’s remarks. Unlike Ijaabo, Fawzia used to help me with the cooking, cleaning, and shopping. After the early morning prayer, she didn’t go back to bed like everyone else did, but instead helped me bake angellos for everyone’s breakfast.

Fawzia told me clearly that she lived for only one thing: her son. He was prey, too. The other, bigger children treated the boy as an outcast. Aidarus and Ahmed, my young cousins, used to plague him. My family never stepped in to prevent the abuse. There was a stigma on him. It was the first time I had knowingly met the child of an unmarried woman.

Most unmarried Somali girls who got pregnant committed suicide. I knew one girl in Mogadishu who poured a can of gasoline over herself in the living room, with everyone there, and burned herself alive. Of course, if she hadn’t done this, her father and brother would probably have killed her anyway.”

The Big Bad Woolf

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“The play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is set on the campus of a small, New England university. It opens with the main characters, George and Martha coming home from a party at her father’s house. The two of them clearly care deeply for each other, but events have turned their marriage into a nasty battle between two disenchanted, cynical enemies. Even though the pair arrives home at two o’clock in the morning, they are expecting guests: the new math professor and his wife.

Of course, as it turns out, this new, young professor, Nick, actually works in the biology department. He and his wife, Honey, walk into a brutal social situation. In the first act, “Fun and Games,” Martha and George try to fight and humiliate each other in new, inventive ways. As they peel away each other’s pretenses and self-respect, George and Martha use Honey and Nick as pawns, transforming their guests into an audience to witness humiliation, into levers for creating jealousy, and into a means for expressing their own sides of their mutual story. In the second act, “Walpurgisnacht,” these games get even nastier. The evening turns into a nightmare. George and Martha even attack Honey and Nick, attempting to force them to reveal their dirty secrets and true selves. Finally, in the last act, “The Exorcism,” everyone’s secrets have been revealed and purged. Honey and Nick go home, leaving Martha and George to try to rebuild their shattered marriage” (Source:

“The play is a battle to the death . . .”

“You only have to say the word, Elizabeth Taylor. . . ” said the movie trailer. Apparently she was so connected to the screen version of the play that they identified her name with the movie. Find out more below:

We continue on with her intention to bring attention to the plight of women authors . . .

Shakespeare’s Sister by Virginia Woolf (continued)

At last–for she was very young, oddly like Shakespeare the poet in her face, with the same grey eyes and rounded brows–at last Nick Green the actor-manager took pity on her; she found herself with child by that gentleman and so–who an measure the heat and violence of a poets heart when caught and tangled in a woman’s body?–killed herself one winter’s night and lies buried at some cross-roads where the omnibuses now stop outside the Elephant and Castle.

That, more or less, is how the story would run, I think, if a woman in Shakespeare’s day had had Shakespeare’s genius. . . Now and again an Emily Bronte or a Robert Burns blazes out and proves its presence. But it certainly never got itself onto paper. When, however, one reads of a witch being ducked, of a woman possessed by devils, of a wise woman selling herbs, or even of a very remarkable man that had a mother, then I think we are on the track of a lost novelist, a suppressed poet, of some mute and inglorious Jane Austen, some Emily Bronte who bashed her brains out on the moor or mopped and mowed about the highways crazed with the torture that her gift had put her to. . .

For it needs little skill in psychology to be sure that a gifted girl who had tried to use her gift for poetry would have been so thwarted and hindered by other people, so tortured and pulled asunder by her own contrary instincts, that she must have lost her health and sanity to a certainty. . . whatever she had written would have been twisted and deformed, issuing from a strained and morbid imagination (p 61-2, A Room of One’s Own).

Who is Shakespeare’s Sister?

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) created an archetype she called Shakespeare’s Sister

A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” –Virginia Woolf

Yesterday in the New York Times article By the Book: “Her prose is sometimes poetry. Listen to this: “Fear no more says the heart, committing its burden to some sea, which sighs collectively for all sorrows, and renews, begins, collects, lets fall.” And she’s such a compassionate describer of her characters with all their flaws. I hadn’t read the novel for years, and it was such a joy to revisit and rediscover it.” (‘Her Prose Is Sometimes Poetry’: Why Margaret Jull Costa Loves Virginia Woolf; New York Times March 4, 2021).

The New Yorker put it, “In Virginia Woolf’s case, the fact that she was a woman was a further aggravation. She belonged to a generation in which a woman had still to fight to be taken seriously as a writer. ” … With the exception of a description of an eclipse of the sun, which is as beautiful as any of the best pages in her novels, and an occasional comment, usually rather malicious, on people she knew, these selections are devoted to her thoughts upon the work in hand. Like every other writer, she was concerned about what particular kind of writer she was, and what her unique contribution could and should be. ‘My only interest as a writer lies, I begin to see, in some queer individuality; not in strength, or passion, or anything startling.’ ” (A Consciousness of Reality, The New Yorker, W. H Auden, March 6 1954).

To delineate her background: Virginia Woolf was considered one of the most important modernist English writers among 20th century authors. She experimented with and used stream of consciousness as a narrative device.

Woolf was born in South Kensington, London, into an wealthy family. She was the seventh child in a blended family of eight, including Vanessa Bell, the modernist painter. The boys in the family received college educations, while the girls were home-schooled. They studied English classics and Victorian literature. The family’s summer home in St. Ives, Cornwall was a formative influence in Virginia Woolf’s childhood. In the late 1890s, she first saw the Godrevy Lighthouse, and it became the origin of her novel To the Lighthouse (1927).

Woolf attended King’s College London, where she studied classics, history and met early reformers of women’s higher education and the womens’ rights movement (1897 to 1901). Her brothers were educated at Cambridge, and this was an influence on her, as well as her access to her father’s vast library. Her father was the one who encouraged her to write, which she began doing professionally in 1900. Although she was resourceful and well-educated, Woolf had several mental breakdowns and was institutionalized for throwing herself out of a window after her father’s death in 1904. She eventually died by suicide in 1941.

Woolf was one of the central subjects of the 1970s movement of feminist criticism and her works have since garnered much attention and widespread commentary for “inspiring feminism.” Her writings were translated into more than 50 languages. A large body of literature is dedicated to her life and work, and she has been the subject of plays, novels, and films. (Source: Wikipedia)

Virginia Woolf wrote the essay A Room of One’s Own; published as a book, it described her ideas and theories on women writers, and whether they would eventually be as acknowledged as men. She created a descriptive and powerful archetype whom she calls “Shakespeare’s sister.” She described this fictional woman–hidden in the background behind her brother’s greatness–as not yet born but that the potential for her to someday exist is preeminent.

Virginia’s Woolf’s Story Within a Story:

Let me imagine, since fact are so hard to come by, what would have happened had Shakespeare had a wonderfully gifted sister, called Judith, let us say. Shakespeare himself went, very probably,–his mother was a heiress–to the grammar school, where he may have learnt Latin–Ovid, Virgil, and Horace–and the elements of grammar and logic. He was, it is well known, a wild boy who poached rabbits, perhaps shot a deer, and had, rather sooner than he should have done, to marry a woman in the neighbourhood, who bore him a child rather quicker than was right.

That escape sent him to seek his fortune in London. He had, it seemed, a taste for the theatre; he began by holding horses at the stage door. Very soon he got work in the theatre, became a successful actor, and lived at the hub of the universe, meeting everybody, knowing everybody, practicing his art on the boards, exercising his wits in the street, and even getting access to the palace of the queen.

Meanwhile his extraordinarily gifted sister, let us suppose, remained at home.She was as adventurous, as imaginative, as agog to see the world as he was. But she was not sent to school. She had no chance of reading Horace and Virgil. She picked up a book now and then, one of her brother’s perhaps, and read a few pages. But then her parents came in and told her to mend the stockings or mind the stew and not moon about with books and papers. They would have spoken sharply but kindly, for they were substantial people who knew the conditions of life for a woman and loved their daughter–indeed, more likely than not she was the apple of her father’s eye. Perhaps she scribbled some pages up in an apple loft on the sly but was careful to hide them or set fire to them. Soon, however, before she was out of her teens, she was to be betrothed to the son of a neighbouring wool-stapler. She cried out that marriage was hateful to her, and for that she was severely beaten by her father.

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Then he ceased to scold her. He begged her instead not to hurt him, not to shame him in this matter of marriage. He would give her a chain of bead or a fine petticoat, he said; and there were tears in his eyes. How could she disobey him? How could she break his heart? The force of her own gift alone drove her to it. She made up a small parcel of her belongings, let herself down by a rope one summer’s night and took the road to London. She was not yet seventeen.

The birds that sang in the hedge were not more musical than she was. She had the quickest fancy, a gift like here brother’s, for the tune of words. Like him, she had a taste for the theatre. She stood at the stage door; she wanted to act, she said. Men laughed in her face. The manager–a fat, looselipped man–guffawed. He bellowed something about poodles dancing and woman acting–no woman, he said, could possibly be an actress. He hinted–can you imagine what. She would get no training in her craft. Could she even seek her dinner in a tavern or roam the streets at midnight? Yet her genius was for fiction . . . upon the lives of men and women and the study of their ways.

More on this tomorrow . . . Lilith

Juliet Throws the Teapot

Juliet or alternately “The Blue Necklace” (1898) by J. W Waterhouse

Juliet is among the world’s most memorable characters. Here you see her portrayed by Waterhouse, and made into a beach towel. Just think, for $44 you can take her swimming.

One of Shakepeare’s most famous quotes:

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet…”
-Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II

The explanation for the quote: “In Shakespeare’s tragedy about the titular “star-crossed lovers,” Juliet’s line references her and Romeo’s warring families and that their last names — Montague and Capulet — shouldn’t define who they are or negate their romance. Instead, she’s saying that a name given to an object is nothing more than a collection of letters, and changing what something is called doesn’t change what it inherently is.” (Source:

Where else do we see this theme anywhere that something isn’t necessarily what you get on the label, and that people may not act according to their labels? How do we know what something inherently is? Even being labelled is something people react to, and people may not act according to their beliefs. For example, C.S. Lewis when referring to what labels could be put on Jesus, put it: “He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.” This is discussed, as what is called Lewis’s trilemma, and is frequently shortened to a question in the line of: “Is he a liar, a lunatic, or Lord?” (Mere Christianity). Lewis further states that: “You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. … Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.”

We might like a modern movie depiction of the Shakespeare play such at the 2013 Romeo and Juliet to understand the plot.

The play itself has a few central themes: “Romeo and Juliet is the most famous love story in the English literary tradition. Love is naturally the play’s dominant and most important theme. The play focuses on romantic love, specifically the intense passion that springs up at first sight between Romeo and Juliet. In Romeo and Juliet, love is a violent, ecstatic, overpowering force that supersedes all other values, loyalties, and emotions. In the course of the play, the young lovers are driven to defy their entire social world . . .

“Love in Romeo and Juliet is a brutal, powerful emotion that captures individuals and catapults them against their world, and, at times, against themselves. ” (Source:

Another more modern depiction of Shakespeare’s famous play might be Shakespeare in Love, starring Gwynneth Paltrow.

“The film depicts a fictional love affair involving playwright William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) and Viola de Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow) while Shakespeare was writing Romeo and Juliet. Several characters are based on historical figures, and many of the characters, lines, and plot devices allude to Shakespeare’s plays.

Shakespeare in Love received positive reviews from critics and was a box office success, grossing $289.3 million worldwide and was the ninth highest-grossing film of 1998. The film received numerous accolades, including seven Oscars at the 71st Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress (Gwyneth Paltrow), Best Supporting Actress (Judi Dench), and Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.” (Source: Wikipedia)

So which ‘Juliet’ throws the teapot? This is referring to a book by by Mary Ann Shaffer, and Annie Barrows. While the character Juliet in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a writer during the war, we cannot overlook her wartime character as a more Juliet-like renaissance woman. She throws a teapot at a reporter who irks her, during an interview. As a published author, she is well thought of, and has even penned a book on Anne Bronte. She eventually finds love on the Island of Guernsey, although she might be marrying into a different social class when she marries a pig farmer, instead of the sought-after handsome Mark who gives her a diamond ring. While all the rations she has for clothing go to buy a dress she sees in the window of a store, she is inherently frugal and hardworking, working journalistically to tell the story of the literary society.

The idea that Elizabeth was killed during the war, and is the mother of Kit (daughter of a German soldier) complicates the plot. Elizabeth is natural, easy going, inclined to follow her convictions, and helps people who are in need of her. She wears no makeup, and is admired for her connections to her friends, as much is she is scorned for causing scandal by having an illegitimate child.

To throw a curve ball, formally, Elizabeth and Juliet are two different characters. The idea that they would be the same person, or that Elizabeth (a mother) would eventually recreate herself as a successful author named Juliet seems insensible. It would be like the difference between being named Plain Jane and having a ‘pen name’ in modern society.

Example, Author Emily Isaacson:

Emily the writer, reading poetry.
Published poet and author, Emily Isaacson.
Sarah Abbott (2006 before taking a pen name, and legally changing her name.)
Sarah Abbott (2006)

There is a further developed identity, and we see that a person’s psychic consciousness can turn into our perceived identity, and what we know about ourselves; even if no one else knows. Like a secret tryst between Romeo and Juliet, Emily knows she is a writer, and will eventually publish books. But no one else knows. She is hiding it in her childhood. She is writing a book in her desk. She is taking out stacks of books from the library, and reads a book a day. If she verbalizes anything of the sort, the people around her deny it and even persecute her for thinking such things.

Eventually we must come to the point where we ask Jesus a question about his identity, and say:” Who are you?”

Eventually we must ask the same of Emily.

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Fleeting Ophelia

Ophelia is a character in Hamlet, by William Shakespeare. She is driven mad when her father, Polonius, is murdered by her lover, Hamlet. She dies while still very young, suffering from grief and madness. The events shown in Millais’s Ophelia are not actually seen on stage. Instead they are referred to in a conversation between Queen Gertrude and Ophelia’s brother Laertes. Gertrude describes how Ophelia fell into the river while picking flowers and slowly drowned, singing all the while (Source: Tate Gallery, London).


Hamlet, Act 1V, Scene V11

Laertes: Drowned! O, where?

Queen Gertrude: There is a willow grows askant the brook,
That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream.
Therewith fantastic garlands did she make
Of crowflowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cold maids do dead-men’s-fingers call them.
There on the pendent boughs her crownet weeds
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke,
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide,
And mermaid-like awhile they bore her up;
Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes,
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element. But long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.

Laertes: Alas, then she is drowned?

Queen Gertrude: Drowned, drowned


Ophelia is depicted in a 1894 painting by English painter J. W Waterhouse, depicting the character in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. She is a young noblewoman of Denmark, a potential wife for Prince Hamlet. In the 1894 version by Waterhouse, Ophelia is depicted, in the last moments before her death, sitting on a willow branch extending out over a pond of lilies. Her royal dress strongly contrasts with her natural surroundings. Waterhouse has placed flowers on her lap and in her hair, tying her into her natural surroundings (Source: Wikipedia).

Ophelia is one of the most well-known Pre-Raphaelite works in the Tate collection. The painting was part of the original Henry Tate Gift in 1894. Millais’s image of the tragic death of Ophelia, as she falls into the stream and drowns, is one of the best-known depictions from Shakespeare.

The Pre-Raphaelites focused on serious and significant subjects and were best known for painting subjects from modern life and literature often using historical costumes. They painted directly from nature itself, as truthfully as possible and with incredible attention to detail (Source: Tate Gallery, London).

An old archetype of Suicide and MAdness

Ophelia 1851-2 Sir John Everett Millais, Bt 1829-1896 Presented by Sir Henry Tate 1894

J. E. Millais painted Ophelia between 1851 and 1852 in two separate locations. He painted the landscape part of the painting outside, by the Hogsmill River at Ewell in Surrey; and painted the figure of Ophelia inside in his Gower Street studio in London.

At the time Millais was painting, it was common for artists to work outside to produce sketches. They then took these back to their studio and used them as reference to create a larger finished painting. However, Millais and his Pre-Raphaelite friends completed their paintings outside in the open air, which was unusual for the time.

Millais did not give himself as long to paint the figure of Ophelia as he did to paint the landscape. Traditionally, the landscape was often considered the less important part of painting and therefore painted second. Millais and the Pre-Raphaelites believed the landscape was of equal importance to the figure, and so for Ophelia, it was painted first.


Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Elizabeth Siddall Plaiting her Hair

Millais’s model was a young woman aged nineteen called Elizabeth Siddall. She was discovered by his friend, Walter Deverell, working in a hat shop. She later married one of Millais’s friends, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, in 1860.

To create the effect of Elizabeth pretending to be Ophelia drowning in the river, she posed for Millais in a bath full of water. To keep the water warm some oil lamps were placed underneath. On one occasion, the lamps went out and Millais was so engrossed by his painting that he didn’t even notice!

During her time posing for the painting, Elizabeth got very cold and became quite ill. With no National Health Service or readily available medicine, Elizabeth was looked after by a private doctor paid for by Elizabeth’s father who then ordered Millais to pay the fifty medical bills. The matter was settled and Miss Siddall recovered quickly.

While posing, Elizabeth wore a very fine silver embroidered dress bought by Millais from a second-hand shop for four pounds.

“To-day I have purchased a really splendid lady’s ancient dress- all flowered over in silver embroidery-and I am going to paint it for ‘Ophelia’…it cost me, old and dirty as it is, four pounds.”

John Everett Millais


Most of the flowers in Ophelia are included either because they are mentioned in the play, or for their symbolic value. Millais saw these flowers growing wild by the river in Ewell. Because he painted the river scene over a period of five months, flowers that bloom at different times of the year appear next to each other.

Millais always painted directly from nature itself with great attention to detail. The flowers are painted from real, individual flowers and Millais shows the dead and broken leaves as well as the flowers in full bloom. Millais’s son John wrote that his father’s flowers were so realistic that a professor teaching botany, who was unable to take a class of students into the country, took them to see the flowers in the painting Ophelia, as they were as instructive as nature itself.


Source: Tate Gallery, London.

Another depiction of Ophelia (1889) by J. W Waterhouse

RevivinG Ophelia

Mary Pipher wrote the book, Reviving Ophelia. The 25th anniversary edition of the iconic bookis revised and updated for 21st-century adolescent girls and their families.

Reviving Ophelia was originally published in 1994, and it shone a much-needed spotlight on the problems faced by adolescent girls. The book became iconic and helped to reframe the national conversation about what author Mary Pipher called “a girl-poisoning culture” surrounding adolescents. Fast forward to today, and adolescent girls and the parents, teachers, and counselors who care about them find themselves confronting many of the same challenges Pipher wrote about originally as well as new ones specific to today.

Girls still struggle with misogyny, sexism, and issues of identity and self-esteem. But they’re also more isolated than ever before: They don’t talk face-to-face to the people around them, including their peers, as they used to: They’re texting or on social media for hours at a time. And while girls today are less likely to be in trouble for their drinking or sexual behavior, they have a greater chance of becoming depressed, anxious, or suicidal.

In this revised and updated Reviving Ophelia, Pipher and her daughter, Sara Pipher Gilliam (who was a teenager at the time of the book’s original publication), have incorporated these new issues for a 21st-century readership. In addition to examining the impact that social media has on adolescent girls’ lives today, Pipher and Gilliam explore the rising and empowering importance of student activism in girls’ lives, the wider acceptance of diverse communities among young people, and the growing disparities between urban and rural, rich and poor, and how they can affect young girls’ sense of self-worth. With a new foreword and afterword and chapters that explore these topics, this new edition of Reviving Ophelia builds on the relevance of the original as it provides key insights into the challenges and opportunities facing adolescent girls today.

The approach Pipher and Gilliam take in the new edition is just what it was in the original: a timely, readable combination of insightful research and real-world examples that illuminate the challenges young women face and the ways to address them. This updated Reviving Ophelia looks at 21st century adolescent girls through fresh eyes, with insights and ideas that will help new generations of readers. Buy here.

In Daniel Drage’s latest published essay in Image Journal (Issue 107), he explores the negative spaces in art and creation, which I believe has connotations to this archetype when you consider the themes of emptiness, loss, despair, and infertility. He states:

“The concept of negative space offers an interesting point of connection between works of art and sacred texts. The Bible presents myriad examples of empty or bounded spaces, which it describes in palpable, visual terms, alive with meaning. Think of the space opened up by the parting of the Red Sea, for example, or of particular empty wombs and tombs which are among the most profound negative spaces in scripture.” Read more . . .

Ephemeral Elaine

The Lady of Shalott by J. W Waterhouse

The poem “The Lady of Shalott” by Lord Tennyson (1832)

Part I

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro’ the field the road runs by
       To many-tower’d Camelot;
The yellow-leaved waterlily
The green-sheathed daffodilly
Tremble in the water chilly
       Round about Shalott.

Willows whiten, aspens shiver.
The sunbeam showers break and quiver
In the stream that runneth ever
By the island in the river
       Flowing down to Camelot.
Four gray walls, and four gray towers
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
       The Lady of Shalott.

Underneath the bearded barley,
The reaper, reaping late and early,
Hears her ever chanting cheerly,
Like an angel, singing clearly,
       O’er the stream of Camelot.
Piling the sheaves in furrows airy,
Beneath the moon, the reaper weary
Listening whispers, ‘ ‘Tis the fairy,
       Lady of Shalott.’

The little isle is all inrail’d
With a rose-fence, and overtrail’d
With roses: by the marge unhail’d
The shallop flitteth silken sail’d,
       Skimming down to Camelot.
A pearl garland winds her head:
She leaneth on a velvet bed,
Full royally apparelled,
       The Lady of Shalott.

Part II

No time hath she to sport and play:
A charmed web she weaves alway.
A curse is on her, if she stay
Her weaving, either night or day,
       To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be;
Therefore she weaveth steadily,
Therefore no other care hath she,
       The Lady of Shalott.

She lives with little joy or fear.
Over the water, running near,
The sheepbell tinkles in her ear.
Before her hangs a mirror clear,
       Reflecting tower’d Camelot.
And as the mazy web she whirls,
She sees the surly village churls,
And the red cloaks of market girls
       Pass onward from Shalott.

Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd lad,
Or long-hair’d page in crimson clad,
       Goes by to tower’d Camelot:
And sometimes thro’ the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two:
She hath no loyal knight and true,
       The Lady of Shalott.

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror’s magic sights,
For often thro’ the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
       And music, came from Camelot:
Or when the moon was overhead
Came two young lovers lately wed;
‘I am half sick of shadows,’ said
       The Lady of Shalott.

Part III

A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley-sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thro’ the leaves,
And flam’d upon the brazen greaves
       Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight for ever kneel’d
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
       Beside remote Shalott.

The gemmy bridle glitter’d free,
Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy.
The bridle bells rang merrily
       As he rode down from Camelot:
And from his blazon’d baldric slung
A mighty silver bugle hung,
And as he rode his armour rung,
       Beside remote Shalott.

All in the blue unclouded weather
Thick-jewell’d shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burn’d like one burning flame together,
       As he rode down from Camelot.
As often thro’ the purple night,
Below the starry clusters bright,
Some bearded meteor, trailing light,
       Moves over green Shalott.

His broad clear brow in sunlight glow’d;
On burnish’d hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow’d
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
       As he rode down from Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flash’d into the crystal mirror,
‘Tirra lirra, tirra lirra:’
       Sang Sir Lancelot.

She left the web, she left the loom
She made three paces thro’ the room
She saw the water-flower bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
       She look’d down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack’d from side to side;
‘The curse is come upon me,’ cried
       The Lady of Shalott.

Part IV

In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining,
Heavily the low sky raining
       Over tower’d Camelot;
Outside the isle a shallow boat
Beneath a willow lay afloat,
Below the carven stern she wrote,
The Lady of Shalott.

A cloudwhite crown of pearl she dight,
All raimented in snowy white
That loosely flew (her zone in sight
Clasp’d with one blinding diamond bright)
       Her wide eyes fix’d on Camelot,
Though the squally east-wind keenly
Blew, with folded arms serenely
By the water stood the queenly
       Lady of Shalott.

With a steady stony glance—
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Beholding all his own mischance,
Mute, with a glassy countenance—
       She look’d down to Camelot.
It was the closing of the day:
She loos’d the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
       The Lady of Shalott.

As when to sailors while they roam,
By creeks and outfalls far from home,
Rising and dropping with the foam,
From dying swans wild warblings come,
       Blown shoreward; so to Camelot
Still as the boathead wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her chanting her deathsong,
       The Lady of Shalott.

A longdrawn carol, mournful, holy,
She chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her eyes were darken’d wholly,
And her smooth face sharpen’d slowly,
       Turn’d to tower’d Camelot:
For ere she reach’d upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
       The Lady of Shalott.

Under tower and balcony,
By garden wall and gallery,
A pale, pale corpse she floated by,
Deadcold, between the houses high,
       Dead into tower’d Camelot.
Knight and burgher, lord and dame,
To the planked wharfage came:
Below the stern they read her name,
The Lady of Shalott.

They cross’d themselves, their stars they blest,
Knight, minstrel, abbot, squire, and guest.
There lay a parchment on her breast,
That puzzled more than all the rest,
       The wellfed wits at Camelot.
‘The web was woven curiously,
The charm is broken utterly,
Draw near and fear not,—this is I,
       The Lady of Shalott.’

The Lady of Shalott (1862), another depiction by J. W Waterhouse. This painting is an illustration of the poem by Tennyson.

This is a depiction of the character Elaine, who is dramatized in poetry and art. Elaine represents transience, and does not win her lover Lancelot. As such, she is scorned, and travels down the river under a tapestry to her eventual death. She is fleeting, short-lived, momentary . . . this is all also true of Generation X. Perhaps she is an archetype of this generation, and their unfulfilled dreams of romance and a life of “happily ever after,” all of which seemed to belong to the more prosperous Baby Boomers. Let’s discuss this idea further. Although her character seems to last only for a short time, in the history of art, she is a remarkable and memorable character, an illustration of death from a broken heart. Could Elaine be re-created as another character in modern times?

What does the gallery who owns this painting have to say?

Tennyson’s poem, first published in 1832, tells of a woman who suffers under an undisclosed curse. She lives isolated in a tower on an island called Shalott, on a river which flows down from King Arthur’s castle at Camelot. Not daring to look upon reality, she is allowed to see the outside world only through its reflection in a mirror. One day she glimpses the reflected image of the handsome knight Lancelot, and cannot resist looking at him directly. The mirror cracks from side to side, and she feels the curse come upon her. The punishment that follows results in her drifting in her boat downstream to Camelot ‘singing her last song’, but dying before she reaches there. Waterhouse shows her letting go the boat’s chain, while staring at a crucifix placed in front of three guttering candles. Tennyson was a popular subject for artists of this period, particularly the Pre-Raphaelites. Waterhouse’s biographer Anthony Hobson relates that the artist owned a copy of Tennyson’s collected works, and covered every blank page with pencil sketches for paintings.

The landscape setting is highly naturalistic; the painting was made during Waterhouse’s brief period of plein-air painting. The setting is not identified, although the Waterhouses frequently visited Somerset and Devon. The model is traditionally said to be the artist’s wife. Waterhouse’s sketchbook contains numerous pencil studies for this and the painting of the same title made six years later (1894, Leeds City Art Gallery). This second work shows the Lady at the moment she looks out of the window and the curse is fulfilled. Waterhouse also made sketches of the final scenes in which the boat bearing the Lady floats into Camelot.

Source: Tate Gallery Notes

Loreena McKennitt, (born February 17, 1957) is a Canadian composer, harpist, accordionist, and pianist who writes, records and performs world music with Celtic and Middle Eastern themes. McKennitt is known for her refined and clear dramatic soprano vocals (Source: Wikipedia). She produced the song to the poem, called “The Lady of Shalott.” It was recorded, and released in 1991 as folk music.

Loreena McKennitt sings The Lady of Shalott

Her lyrics are the same as the more commonly read translation of the poem:

On either side of the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the world and meet the sky;
And thro’ the field the road run by
To many-towered Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro’ the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four grey walls, and four grey towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.

Only reapers, reaping early,
In among the bearded barley
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly
Down to tower’d Camelot;
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers “’tis the fairy
The Lady of Shalott.

“There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay,
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.

And moving through a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
Winding down to Camelot;
And sometimes thro’ the mirror blue
The Knights come riding two and two.
She hath no loyal Knight and true,
The Lady Of Shalott.

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror’s magic sights,
For often thro’ the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
And music, went to Camelot;
Or when the Moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed.
“I am half sick of shadows, ” said
The Lady Of Shalott.

A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thro’ the leaves,
And flamed upon the brazen greaves
Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight for ever kneel’d
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shalott.

His broad clear brow in sunlight glow’d;
On burnish’d hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow’d
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
As he rode back to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
he flashed into the crystal mirror,
“Tirra Lirra, ” by the river
Sang Sir Lancelot.

She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces taro’ the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She looked down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror cracked from side to side;
“The curse is come upon me, ” cried
The Lady of Shalott.

In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining.
Heavily the low sky raining
Over towered Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And round about the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shalott.

And down the river’s dim expanse
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance –
With a glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott..

Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darkened wholly,
Turn’d to towered Camelot.
For ere she reach’d upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shalott.

Under tower and balcony,
By garden-wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
Dead-pale between the houses high,
Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and Burgher, Lord and Dame,
And round the prow they read her name,
The Lady of Shalott.

Who is this? And what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they crossed themselves for fear,
All the Knights at Camelot;
But Lancelot mused a little space
He said, “She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
The Lady of Shalott.”

Songwriters: Alfred Tennyson / Dan Smith / Rose Prince / Steve Smith / Tom Gilbert

The Lady of Shalott lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

The Lady of Shalott — John Atkinson Grimshaw

The Awakening Conscience

A further glimpse of archetypes and symbolic women is evidenced by the Pre-Raphaelite painters. Here are some notes on a painting by William Holman Hunt presented by the Tate Gallery in London. The Tate Gallery also owns The Lady of Shalott by J. W. Waterhouse, the subject of our next post.

Photo by Pixabay on

The Awakening Conscience was conceived as the material counterpart to Hunt’s The Light of the World (1851-3, Warden and Fellows of Keble College, Oxford). Its inspiration was a verse from Proverbs: ‘As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, so is he that singeth songs to an heavy heart’. With his typical thoroughness, Hunt hired a room at Woodbine Villa, 7 Alpha Place, St John’s Wood, a ‘maison de convenance’, to use as the setting. A gentleman has installed his mistress (known to be such because of her absence of a wedding ring) in a house for their meetings. As they play and sing to Thomas Moore’s Oft in the Stilly Night, she has a sudden spiritual revelation. Rising from her lover’s lap, she gazes into the sunlit garden beyond, which is reflected in the mirror behind her. The mirror image represents the woman’s lost innocence, but redemption, indicated by the ray of light in the foreground, is still possible. Intended to be ‘read’, the painting is full of such symbolic elements. The cat toying with the broken-winged bird under the table symbolises the woman’s plight. A man’s discarded glove warns that the likely fate of a cast-off mistress was prostitution. A tangled skein of yarn on the floor symbolises the web in which the girl is entrapped. Indeed, as Ruskin wrote to the Times on 25 May 1854, ‘the very hem of the poor girl’s dress, at which the painter has laboured so closely, thread by thread, has story in it, if we think how soon its pure whiteness may be soiled with dust and rain, her outcast feet failing in the street’. The frame, designed by Hunt, also contains various symbolic emblems; the bells and marigolds stand for warning and sorrow, the star is a sign of spiritual revelation.

The Awakening Conscience 1853 William Holman Hunt 1827-1910 Presented by Sir Colin and Lady Anderson through the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1976

The underlying spiritual message was generally ignored by most critics, who concentrated instead on the more sensational aspects of the painting. 

Leslie Parris (ed.), The Pre-Raphaelites, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1984, reprinted 1994, pp.120-21, reproduced in colour.