DAY TEN: KING LEAR: A FIENDISH PARODY OF THE VIRGIN BIRTH?
Expressing the truth of what I see Shakespeare doing here in Lear is a truly gut-rending experience for me. Surely, not even Shakespeare would dare imply that we should consider Jesus to be a bastard! But what is the word we use to describe a child conceived (non-consensually) before his mother marries a man who is not the child’s father?
Under the prevailing Mosaic law, had the unusual circumstances of Mary’s conception not been covered up, she would have been stoned to death.
But that is precisely what I see the opening scene of King Lear doing: challenging the hypocrisy of the priesthood and our own insatiable lust for judgment and punishment. Even before he was born, the ‘son of God’ defied the Mosaic law – and kept doing so until the ascension. That was his purpose. That’s what he came to do – free mankind from the tyrannical law that keeps us in bondage to karma and reincarnation (hell on earth). And replace it with a higher law that promises grace and liberation.
Jesus fulfilled the laws and abolished the sins – that TO THIS DAY remain the tenets of the orthodox doctrine purporting to act in God’s name!
This higher law is not a belief system. It’s been stated as a fundamental, existential truth that can only be known by finding it. like the Holy Grail? Exactly like the Holy Grail.
As a writer, putting allusions to this level of truth into your work is the cream and cognac in your sauce. To pen an opening scene like that in King Lear would stretch your talents to breaking point. See how the Bard has Gloucester remark somewhat wryly that (just like Joseph, husband to Mary, mother of Jesus) his wife was ‘round-womb’d’ with his ‘apparent’ son before they had actually consummated their marriage.
Is not this your son, my lord?
His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge: I have
so often blushed to acknowledge him, that now I am
brazed to it.
I cannot conceive you.
Sir, this young fellow’s mother could: whereupon
she grew round-womb’d, and had, indeed, sir, a son
for her cradle ere she had a husband for her bed.
Do you smell a fault?
I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it
being so proper.
This device is one of many in the play fulfilling myriad requirements for a cryptic heretical tract aimed at subverting those in power
The cunning device also thumbs its nose at the status quo by having said ‘bastard’ play the ‘bad guy’. In fact a ‘bad guy’ in a play so full of bad guys there’s scant room for anyone for nice guys like us to identify with. Apart from Cordelia, the divine feminine, that is.
As this play plays out – the so-called ‘heresies’ pepper the text and blur any distinction between drama and profound mystical scripture.
Christmas allusion? Gets my vote. Let me know what you think.
SHAKESPEARE’S SECRET COMPASS:
A FREE MASTERCLASS IN USING THE BARDPOWER IN 12TH NIGHT
If music be the food of love, play on.