February 3, 2020-
The young girl had less willpower than she had thought. Faced with a sumptuous, fully-laden buffet, she took two grapes for herself. This awakened the buffet’s master, who killed two of the young girl’s faerie guides and nearly captured her. In turn, the faeries’ master, a faun, angrily banished the young girl from his enchanted cave. I got the initial impression, whilst watching Pan’s Labyrinth, last night, that the faun was no more enamoured of the child-or of children in general, than was the girl’s step father, a severe and arrogant captain in Francisco Franco’s Army.
It was 1944, and while the Fascists had largely brought Spain under their control, there were pockets of active partisan resistance. There was little tolerance for romantic notions or for childhood fancies. The girl was tolerated by both of the principal male figures, as mentioned above, and her mother, the captain’s new wife, was merely a means to an end for her husband, who wanted a male heir above all else.
I thought of just how much progress has been made, with regard to gender relations, since that time. Like any other area of life, the most progress towards equanimity has been made since the mid-1970’s, when women stopped gratuitously accepting acts of chivalry. The truer, deeper courtesy that came out of the Women’s Rights movement of 1970-76 has only served to help men become more authentic gentlemen, rather than simply aping the courtesies of the past. Honouring a woman’s dignity meant that she could open her own doors-and even open a door for a man.
The little girl, Ofelia, was as skillful as she was willful, managing to fool a monstrous frog, who had stolen a key belonging to the faun. She also got a dagger from a cabinet in the buffet master’s chamber, and procured mandrake root, which she nourished in order for her pregnant, ailing mother to recover. She never appeared to wallow in self-pity.
The captain and his men made a mess of things, leading to his wife’s death and, eventually, to their own slaughter. This, by dint of their stubborn adherence to Franco’s doctrine of “cleansing Spain”. The faun, also doctrinaire, inadvertently caused Ofelia to be caught by the captain, through his insistence that she let her infant brother be bled.
Everyone serves the Creator, directly or indirectly. As it happened, Ofelia’s refusal to shed her innocent brother’s blood, preferring to sacrifice herself instead, met with approval from her Eternal Father, who welcomed her into Paradise, with a throne of her own, to his left. The chastened faun recognized her goodness in the end, and bowed in service.
The calamities set in motion by the pure child, eating two grapes, leave lots of room for thought: Who is more at fault, a child taking a small bit of food from another being, or the chastiser, full of his own importance?