Saturday 17 January 2009

"A falcon, towering in her pride of place..."

Mr. Crowe lent me the book Lady MacBeth for my outside reading this quarter. I've actually been told by a number of people that I would love this book, probably because it's about ancient Scotland, and I'm into that. I'm only about 100 pages in, but I'm shocked on how great a match this book is for me.

I've never read MacBeth, but I've always heard about the scheming, evil character of Lady MacBeth. In English this year, about every book we've read has an outrageously wretched female character, yet Mr. Crowe always says "she is almost as evil as Lady MacBeth", or "the most wicked female character since Lady MacBeth". So, she has certainly been set up in my mind as something pretty awful.

It both surprises me and worries me, however, that I identify so much with Gruadh (Lady MacBeth) in this novel, which is from her point of view. While probably a little more wild than me, she is outrageously stubborn, and often neglects orders for the sake of not taking them. It's not that she's selfish, or chiefly concerned with her own well-being, but her pride and honor. She has a tremendous amount of self respect, and even pleads for fighting lessons, that she might defend herself. She's extremely proud of her ancestry and heritage, the pagan beliefs of which go against the newly Catholicized beliefs of Scotland.

The more startling similarity is her loyalty to St. Brigid, or just the pagan goddess "Bhrighe", as she sometimes thinks of her. St. Brigid is my patron saint, although her actual existence is sometimes disputed. She's more of a legend that began in Celtic paganism and flowed into Irish Catholicism. According to Catholicism, she was a leader in developing the Church in Ireland and even worked closely with St. Patrick. She was supposedly ordained a Bishop on accident by St. Mel, and she had all the privileges of a Bishop. In this way she always seemed pretty rebellious to me.

Maybe I'm just desperately trying to find a connection to something from the past, like Gruadh seems to do with her mother. But she also reminds me a bit of my late Grandma Mary... strong as hell. This book is great, because it's great to read about a strong Scottish woman, whom I wouldn't mind following in character. (At least at this point in the novel. She might get crazy, I don't know yet.)

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