Sunday, February 10, 2008

Turned to Stone--thinking of themes in Queen Bee

I can feel overwhelmed with trying to tackle an adaptation of a new Grimm tale daily, (a quick view of this blog proves that this is my goal, not the reality)! So today, I thought I’d take a small piece of Queen Bee and write a story centered on it--the motif of characters turned to stone. I’ve found it in a good number of the Grimm stories such as The Two Brothers, Faithful John, and The Gold Children. This metaphor, describing the very real threat of losing our psychological suppleness (as we age) haunts me. How many of us, in “middle-age,” become cemented in our fears and outlook? As we experience the tumult and heartbreaks of life, do we expand or contract? Are we able to grow (often through surrendering our deepest held beliefs and desires) or do we get stuck? (We often think showing “responsibility” requires shutting down our desires and being stoic, but if we take the word apart respons--ibility is the ability to respond.)

I could write of a man who ignores the deeper callings of his soul. Then this soul, after many years, begins to atrophy and harden until no feeling-self is left. But that story isn’t working for me—probably because it is too bleak for my taste. Even the most violent fairy tales aren’t that oppressive! And the great Leo Tolstoy has already written this tale (albeit with a better ending). If you haven’t read (or are ready to revisit) the moving, The Death of Ivan Ilych, here it is.

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