'The Kiss' by Klimt
I heard in passing that the above painting is based upon the myth of Apollo and Daphne.
The story essentially breaks down to this; Apollo was struck by Ero's arrow and as consequence 'loves' Daphne. Apollo chasing Daphne. Daphne does not wish to be caught. (does this sound like a potential rape victim?) When she loses hope of escape she calls out to her father to save her.
Peneus changes her into a tree.
Hence we have the tree which procures laurel leaves. Which, according to my roommate who has been named for them, signify 'victory' as they compose the crown of champions and leaders. Apollo realizing he can no longer sleep with his love uses his power of eternal youth and immortality to keep his love's leaves from ever decaying. ... yet... love?
Now I know that as a female I naturally side with my gender in most fictional tales, yet this to me always seemed a far cry from a love story. This acted in my youth as a warning tale of a girl who barely escaped being raped. Now why do they mix those two words within a single tale yet to assign to it only one emotion/title?
To expound upon my confusion let us companion the aforementioned tale with the following; the biblical story of Dinah and Shechem. (Genesis 34:2-3) "When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and violated her. His heart was drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her."
Again I struggle with the wedding of these two opposite sentiments. Though the story, just as that of Apollo and Daphne continues into murkiness, does not end there. No. Schechem begs his father to offer any price for the permission to wed Dinah for as his father Hamor, the Prince, plea's to Jacob; "My son Shechem has his heart set on your daughter. Please give her to him as his wife."... and continues to offer all. the price of circumcision of the entire city is settled upon, and the day after the men of the city and Hamor and Schechem do so, they are slaughtered by Jacob's sons (while still in pain and unable to defend themselves) and Dinah dragged from her new home.
I find myself utterly emotionally confused and drained.
...I wish that 'love stories' were a tad clearer, or at least contained some first-person-perspective to give the inquisitive and empathetic readers some sort of clue as to WHICH character deserves our empathy.
Are these tales of victimization or of love?I used to believe the former, but now I am not entirely sure. Representations through art, repeated readings, and contextual investigation seems as undecided as myself; leaving me without the satisfaction of conclusive black or white, but rather a highly disturbing and blurry shade of gray.
As a quick side note, there is a book based upon Dinah's life, 'The Red Tent' that I read a few years back, though as may be obvious by the above rants, it did not sate my emotional curiosity.