So for my 5Pillars class, we recently read Taming of the Shrew. Good play. Excellent play. Easily one of my favorites. (I once saw it at the Stratford, Canada's Shakespeare festival - Gilbert Blythe played Petruchio! His hair was exactly the same....)
We got in a discussion that I haven't been able to stop thinking about.
So Taming of the Shrew is actually a play within a play. It begins with a rich lord playing a trick on a drunkard, Christopher Sly. While Sly is passed out, the nobleman instructs his servants to treat Sly as the lord. Upon waking, he finds himself doted upon by stewards, who insist he has been severely ill. The more he rants for ale and insists he's a no-count-goodfernuthin, the more they fawn over him.
It doesn't take long to convince him that he is what they say he is.
Thus, they arrange to put on a play for his aristocratic enjoyment.
Enter Kate and Petruchio.
And - lo! - Petruchio wins Katherine over by treating her as the sweetest, most docile woman alive. Even as she swears like J. Golden Kimball, beats her sister like Laman, and breaks lutes over her tutor's head like ... Hercules. (Couldn't think of a better reference. Then again, how many people break lutes over someone's head?)
But he adores her. Praises her. Lauds her gentleness and virtue. And she eventually becomes as she is treated.
In my class, we scorned the idea that someone could be convinced of a false identity so quickly. It does seem rather far-fetched. A fine idea for the theater - but silly in real life.
If I found myself waking in a mansion, surrounded by strangers who insist I'm really a Trump, would I believe them? It's laughable. My memories and experiences are too concrete, too intense for me to doubt myself.
But then again ....
if someone calls me fat, I believe them.
if someone criticizes my parenting, I doubt myself.
if someone even raises their eyebrows at my house decor, I'm ready to redo the whole thing.
I would love to get to a point where I am so sure of who I am, that no one - no one - can convince me otherwise.