Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.

The exact origins of the phrase - Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea can be read here. It is a phrase that  has a certain dilemma about it.
"Set against that there's the explanation that this is from the usual meaning of Devil, i.e. the supreme spirit of evil. If it's that Devil we are talking about then the origin is straightforward - the Devil is bad and falling in the deep sea is bad, so when caught between the two we would be in difficulty"
My favourite playwright Terence Rattigan had a field day with this phrase when he wrote the play - Deep Blue Sea. I love Terence because he has such an eye for frailty of human emotion. He studies the weakness of individuals and presents them in his plays as characters we would probably meet in our everyday lives.  Deep Blue Sea is all about destructive passion - a older married woman's passionate love for her younger lover. His inept reckless failure to understand her requirements for tokens of love or affection. And this finally resulting in her lover deciding to leave her once she threatens suicide after he forgets her birthday. It is the attempted suicide that draws fire from her fiery young lover who declares " We are death to each other" and promptly walks out. The passion she learns from this love is never forgotten for she refuses to return to her husband who offers her all the material comforts of the world. The power of the tale written by Rattigan lies in the fact that the characters are asked to survive all odds and not take the quick way out - suicide [ referred to as the Blue Sea]. There is a recent movie of Deep Blue Sea but I prefer the above version starring Vivien Leigh. The extracts show her grasping desperately onto her lover once he threatens to leave showing us the utter desperation she faces. It is the kind of desperation only felt in true passionate love.  The kind of love drawn from the heart where you understand that your beloved is much like essentials of the world - you cannot live without food, water or his love. It is this need that is portrayed so well by Vivien as she once did with Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind. Tomorrow is indeed another day in Rattigan's plays because he likes to believe his characters have learned something. In reality though, the our life's script is never ever written so eloquently or romantically. 

So Rattigan essentially shows our characters weaknesses one by one as they interact with each other. There are many parallels to real life. People clash into each other everyday and on each occasion, we exhibit our strengths and weaknesses depending on circumstance leading us to question whether love is indeed enough to hold relationships together?. If we are to believe in Rattigan's assessment, love and sexual passion isn't enough to hold relationships together. What is required is communication, understanding and potentially a meeting of minds. 

Mahatma Gandhi once declared

" Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever" 

Few though in reality are prepared to live as Gandhi would have intended, preferring instead of succumb to their weakness, society's expectations, their cynicism, doubt and failure to see that we only live once. The above line is meant for the brave - there are few brave people in the world we live in.