It is her old, horrible, grinning female soul which locks up the heroes, and which sends forth the awful and almost omnipotent malevolence. This old, ghastly woman-spirit is the very core of mischief. And I felt my heart getting as hot against her as the hearts of the lads in the audience were. Red, deep hate I felt of that symbolic old ghoul-female. Poor male Beelzebub is her loutish slave. And it takes all Merlin’s bright-faced intelligence, and all the surging hot urgency of the Paladins, to conquer her.
She will never be finally destroyed—she will never finally die, till her statue, which is immured in the vaults of the castle, is burned.—Oh, it was a very psychoanalytic performance altogether, and one could give a very good Freudian analysis of it.—But behold this image of the witch: this white, submerged idea of woman which rules from the deeps of the unconscious. Behold, the reckless, untamable male knights[Pg 354] will do for it. As the statue goes up in flame—it is only paper over wires—the audience yells! And yells again. And would God the symbolic act were really achieved. It is only little boys who yell. Men merely smile at the trick. They know well enough the white image endures.
So it is over. The knights look at us once more. Orlando, hero of heroes, has a slight inward cast of the eyes. This gives him that look of almost fierce good-nature which these people adore: the look of a man who does not think, but whose heart is all the time red hot with burning, generous blood-passion. This is what they adore.
So my knights go. They all have wonderful faces, and are so splendidly glittering and male. I am sorry they will be laid in a box now.
There is a great gasp of relief. The piano starts its lame rattle. Somebody looking round laughs. And we all look round. And seated on the top of the ticket office is a fat, solemn urchin of two or three years, hands folded over his stomach, his forehead big and blank, like some queer little Buddha. The audience laughs with that southern sympathy: physical sympathy: that is what they love to feel and to arouse.
But there is a little after-scene: in front of the drop-curtain jerks out a little fat flat caricature of a Neapolitan,[Pg 355] and from the opposite side jerks the tall caricature of a Sicilian. They jerk towards one another and bump into one another with a smack. And smack goes the Neapolitan, down on his posterior. And the boys howl with joy. It is the eternal collision between the two peoples, Neapolitan and Sicilian. Now goes on a lot of fooling between the two clowns, in the two dialects. Alas, I can hardly understand anything at all. But it sounds comic, and looks very funny. The Neapolitan of course gets most of the knocks. And there seems to be no indecency at all—unless once.—The boys howl and rock with joy, and no one says Silenzio!Share It