puppytreats

Myrtha

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From interview in "Time Out New York":

"Myrta is a ballbuster.

... I started to build my character—to build my own ideas of Myrta, and what she is. It’s an interesting part, because she’s still dead technically. She’s still a spirit. So there is an essence of some softness to her that I think is often forgotten. There is a bit of eerie softness, yet she’s so strong. It was hard finding that balance, and I still am struggling. I think of when you can see spiritual parts of her, and when she is very strong, and keeping that throughout the strong parts.

I agree. It’s not that she’s vulnerable, but there is something else to her.

Yeah. If you think about her, she’s not evil. What she’s doing to Giselle is not evil. It’s simply revenge, yes, but it’s justice. She’s justice, that’s what she is. And I think that’s often forgotten, that she’s pure strength and…

Resolve?

Right. But I think there’s a sense that what she’s doing isn’t wrong. She’s not trying to kill someone just to try to kill him. This is what she thinks is right and this is what needs to happen." (emphasis added.)

Is this justice?

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Thank you for the link to the interview with Devon Teuscher. (The TONY site comes up with nothing on a search for "Myrta".)

As far as justice is concerned, she is righting the wrong done to women whose souls can get no rest for eternity, a big deal for religious people. Giselle might have saved Albrecht from certain death, and she may not participate in blood-letting, but she's still doomed as a Wili forever.

In almost all versions now, her two intended victims are Albrecht and Hilarion, and one could argue that Hilarion is there because he exposed Loys and started the chain of events that led to Giselle's death, but if you look at the original -- and the National Ballet of Cuba production retains one of these scenes -- the Wilis try to entice any men who appear on their turf overnight into their web, to dance them to death, and she's avenging her gender blindly, but in good conscience.

Blind justice was not a popular theme for artists in the Romantic era: Gustav Klimt created murals for the department of Law at the University of Vienna called "Jurisprudence", in which justice was brutally portrayed, as against mercy.

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Under this definition of justice, would the injured relatives of Albrecht, Hilarion or other enticed men have claim to similar revenge, in an unending cycle?

Does the punishment fit the crime? Does this impact the execution of so-called justice?

How can justice result without a trial? Whose evidence was presented, or examined for reliability?

Even without the application of mercy, the punishment may not be appropriate. Universal condemnation of men does not seem to constitute an application of justice, but rather, an expression of anger and revenge for painful injuries. I doubt executing judgment alleviates the pain or satisfies the hunger for revenge.

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The Wilis are supernatural creature that not everyone truly believes in: the young villagers mock and dismiss Berthe when she tells the tale in the "Mother's Mime", and the village men, in an Act II scene often cut, use the tale to scare each other when drunk, like telling ghost stories. If a body shows up in the woods without visible wounds, it's tragic, but who would they blame?

Even if they wanted to, the can't trap or kill a Wili, so against whom would they avenge themselves?

By the values of the time in which the work was presented, the audience not supposed to think that Myrta was right, Albrecht was wrong or a cad, at least at the end, or that Giselle was a doormat to save him. As far as the character is concerned, and Teuscher is speaking from the point of view of her character, an actor, dancer, opera singer, etc. playing the Baddie acts from the character's point of view, or the drama doesn't work. Or as Adam Gopnik wrote in his review of revisionist histories of the Spanish Inquisition for The New Yorker (Jan. 16, 2012), "We know the cruellest of fanatics by their exceptionally clear consciences."

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1. I imagine if the nobles had found Albrecht's body near Giselle's grave, the peasants would have suffered punishment. I don't think the willis' invisibility (to most) would not have prevented a continuing chain reaction.

2. If Giselle did not want Albrecht punished with a sentence of death, then justice still would not have been served.

I keep thinking about Mr. Puppytreats saying last year after seeing "Giselle": "Why does Myrta get to be the Decider?"

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1. I imagine if the nobles had found Albrecht's body near Giselle's grave, the peasants would have suffered punishment. I don't think the willis' invisibility (to most) would not have prevented a continuing chain reaction.

Perhaps, but the peasants would not be able to retaliate against that injustice, hence no ever-ending cycle of violence/continued chain reaction.

2. If Giselle did not want Albrecht punished with a sentence of death, then justice still would not have been served.

As far as Myrta is concerned, it hasn't. Giselle has shown forgiveness and mercy, and in that Christian light, Myrta's power is broken in this one, extraordinary instance.

On the other hand, in the traditional ending, Bathilde forgives him, and presumably they marry, and he goes back to his day job. Maybe he's held on a tight leash for the rest of his life.

I keep thinking about Mr. Puppytreats saying last year after seeing "Giselle": "Why does Myrta get to be the Decider?"

She's taken the initiative and filled a void. Who else was protecting these women who were jilted, lied to, and wronged, even retroactively?

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2. If Giselle did not want Albrecht punished with a sentence of death, then justice still would not have been served.

As far as Myrta is concerned, it hasn't. Giselle has shown forgiveness and mercy, and in that Christian light, Myrta's power is broken in this one, extraordinary instance.

On the other hand, in the traditional ending, Bathilde forgives him, and presumably they marry, and he goes back to his day job. Maybe he's held on a tight leash for the rest of his life.

Myrta is not serving justice if she kills Albrecht against Giselle's wishes. Instead, she is punishing Giselle, who ends up suffering two losses/hurts/wrongs.

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Myrta is serving collective justice on a class of people for their collective wrong. Giselle, as the junior member of this sisterhood of Wilis, is not the decider.

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Giselle is not serving justice by saving Albrecht: she's showing mercy. There's no question about his culpability.

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Is it just to Giselle to cause additional suffering but executing someone she does not wish to die?

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It provides an opportunity for Giselle to practice self-sacrifice. If you prefer versions which show or strongly suggest that she ascends to Heaven, then her Christ-like sacrifice is blessed and redemptive, whatever the mortal authority says.

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Eva von Braun didn't think that Hitler deserved punishment. (Neither did Winifred Wagner.). Is it just in a society for Albrecht to deceive and kill a girl and walk away to marry another and rule a kingdom where he has wealth and life and death authority over the peasants and a right to their labor? Certainly from Myrta's point of view, the answer is "No."

It's a Romantic concept that individual judgement determines [fill in the blank, including justice.]. Myrta doesn't make up the rules -- she's more like Geoffrey Holder or the head of the Furies -- but she enforces them, with a vengeance, so to speak. It's a Romantic ballet, with a Romantic ending, and as Giselle is the one who acts individually and defines Myrta, it's actually she who is the Decider.

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Unless, of course, she is overruled by the BIG Decider. Like many Romantic works, this ballet has its anti-clerical voice, but believes in a just God. Lesser beings interpret justice and right, but the last decision is made by divine action.

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Sorry, Mel, I was typing on my phone and accidentally killed the clause "As Giselle is the one who acts individually and defines Myrta," that referred to Giselle as the Decider, which I've corrected.

I don't buy the going to Heaven part, though. Where is the self-sacrifice there?

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She has saved Albrecht from death, thus violating the Curse of the Wilis. She will doubtless fare badly under Myrtha for the rest of time, unless Higher Power takes her out of the equation. And another thing, she is compelled to rise from the dead, but of her own will, she returns there. Another sacrifice. Her salvation by assumption is fairly well-documented in early productions, and by pictures of the stage machinery backstage. She doesn't do what she does expecting to be redeemed afterwards, she does it out of Love!

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Don't all of the Wilis return to the dead after the bell rings?

Isn't the supreme sacrifice that she will doubtless fare badly under Myrta for the rest of time, without the same purpose as the rest of the Wilis?

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Justice and revenge are sometimes-(probably more than what we want to accept)-intertwined. Very religious/pious people will definitely have a harder time understanding Myrtha's behaviour.

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Eva von Braun didn't think that Hitler deserved punishment.

This is not in any way analogous, with due respect, Helene.

The crime perpetrated was against Giselle. Giselle maybe saw that Albrecht had incurred a punishment, or maybe she did not think he should be punished. More on point, Giselle did not think that death was a just or proper punishment. Further hurting Giselle, the victim whose injury is being addressed, by making her suffer or effectively cause Albrecht's death, does not constitute justice.

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Even in the Old Testament, perpetrators of manslaughter were afforded asylum. No doubt he caused grievous pain, but Albrecht is not a murderer. He may have been guilty of criminally negligent homicide, but even this is open to debate.

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From Myrta's point of view, and that's what Teuscher was talking about, the crime that Albrecht committed against women in general was more important than Giselle's or Albrecht's individual feelings. That is where the analogy holds. Individual feelings don't create justice, since there's no consensus. It might impact the sentence if the family of a murder victim forgives the murderer and doesn't want to see him punished, but it doesn't overturn the conviction.

In this case, it's supernatural vigilante law, but the women didn't choose between death and wandering through the forest each night for all of eternity.

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She will doubtless fare badly under Myrtha for the rest of time.

She would suffer eternally from knowing she contributed to Albrecht's suffering and death under Myrtha for the rest of time if she did nothing to save him. She would be damned either way.

Another curse is converting from her true nature, or being consumed by growing, enduring hatred and anger.

She has saved Albrecht from death, thus violating the Curse of the Wilis.

Violating a curse? Maybe saved from a curse. Violating a "code."

She doesn't do what she does expecting to be redeemed afterwards, she does it out of Love!

I don't think love can compel anything else. Maybe another code or emotion can cause other actions or reactions, but love leads to fighting to protect Albrecht.

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I don't buy the going to Heaven part, though. Where is the self-sacrifice there?

I do not know much about Christian theology, but does going to heaven require self-sacrifice? What would have kept her out of heaven - original sin? her love of dance? her defiance of her mother's warning? a lack of baptism?

I thought she was an innocent. Therefore, what would bar her from heaven?

She was already sacrificed, by the way. Therefore, why would additional self-sacrifice be required?

I also thought, under Christian theology, that the sacrifice of Jesus washed away sin.

Sorry for my ignorance.

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Violating a curse? Maybe saved from a curse. Violating a "code."

Upon reading, I realize this came across in an unintended way. I offer my apologies to you, Mel. I just was not sure of what you were saying and did not want to misunderstand you.

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