I have written an allegory. No, I’m not yet to the level of Sir Edmund Spencer, John Bunyan, and George Orwell. Maybe someday.
Anyways, we’ve been reading lots of allegories lately in my Courtly Love class. So, my professor decided to make us write our own. In addition, we had to write a formal analysis of one of the texts and discuss our creative choices in our own writing.
Disturbed by the passivity of the Beloved in the medieval text The Romance of the Rose, I chose to explore a more modern take on love in which the beloved possesses voice and agency in abundance. My story takes place, as all Courtly Love tales do, in the Court of Love. My court, however, is not royal, but judicial. Love is not a king, but a judge who decides the fate of lovers. Partially out of laziness and partially out of the desire to have fun with allegorical figures, I center the story on the jury. By giving the decision of the case to a room of allegorical figures, I explore the way internal emotions and thought processes interact when it comes to the deciding the future of a romantic relationship.
Is my allegory well-written? I don’t think so. But I’m definitely proud of it.
(Keep in mind that I know little to nothing about the judicial system and made all of this up. I’m less interested in getting court procedures right and more focused on the conversations that take place.)
The jurors file into the room and take their seats around a long table. Commitment takes a seat at the head of the table, taking leadership. On his right and left are sisters Devotion and Patience. At the foot of the table sits a Lust, a dark, menacing figure. Jurors First Impression and Good Looks, who immediately hit it off, chat happily next to the small, quiet figure of Politeness. Next to her sits Modesty, who does not speak, but observes the room with a careful eye. Ambition and Biological Clock glare at each other across the table. The last figures to take their seats are the brother and sister, Fair Welcome and Consent. It’s been a long afternoon in court and it’s time to come to a decision.
Commitment clears his throat and the room silences. Eleven pairs of eyes shift his way as he summarizes the day’s proceedings. “So… we are here to decide Case 276 in the Court of Love. We have Guy Williams suing Rose Bell. He was stuck in a bad relationship when the met, but when that ended, he began pursuing Rose. She refused his first few advances, not sure if a relationship was something she wanted at this point in her life. He persisted and, eventually, she gave in. They began dating and, at first, things went really well. But, one night a month into their relationship, things went a bit too far. Guy made some moves that Rose was uncomfortable with. After telling him off, she fled from his apartment. We’ve heard, at this point, from both parties. Guy, represented by the powerful lawyer Common Sense, claims that Rose is being unreasonable for not letting him go all the way. Rose, represented by the sharp-tongued Independence, insists that she’s not ready. We must now decide the future of their relationship. Is Rose justified in refusing Guy? Should she have given in? Is he at fault for expecting too much of her? Where should they go from here? Let’s hear what you have to say.”
Immediately, the hulking figure of Lust stands. “I think the whole case is ridiculous. The vote is obvious: she should let the guy bang her.”
Politeness lets out a gasp at this base comment.
Commitment gives her a pointed look. “Yes?”
She shifted in her seat, uncertain of what to say. “I don’t think that kind of language is appropriate. I think that Rose has made her side clear and that Guy should show her respect.” Modesty nodded in agreement, but Lust glared at the small woman. Politeness shrunk in her seat, face heated in embarrassment, at all the attention.
Commitment gave her an encouraging smile, “I think Politeness raises a fair point. Personally, I think that Guy demands too much too soon. They’ve only had a few dates.”
Lust rolled his eyes. “I suppose you think they should wait until marriage? What a prude.”
“Actually, yes. I do think that.” Commitment’s words were firm, resolute. “But I’m not here to force my views on everyone. I’m here for the same reason as you, to decide the future of Guy and Rose’s relationship. Now, let’s here some more thoughts. First Impression, what do you think?”
First Impression smiled brightly. “I think Guy is great. I’m a bit surprised that he’s asking for sex this soon, but honestly, I think it’s worth the risk.”
“Oh, it’s definitely worth the risk,” Good Looks chimed in. “Have you seen those perfectly sculpted biceps? Good grief, the girl must be mad to turn down such a hunk.”
“Actually,” Ambition interrupted loudly. “I think Rose is perfectly justified. When Guy first asked her out, she turned him down. She clearly has other priorities. There is more to life than romance. What if she wants to focus on her career? She doesn’t need a man to hold her back.”
“Having other priorities is all and well,” chimed Biological Clock. “But Rose isn’t a little girl. She’s fully grown. Yes, having a career is important, but what if she wants to settle down and have a family? She’s only got so much time to do that. Guy can give her children. She shouldn’t pass this opportunity by because she may not have another chance.”
“Did you not see her on the witness stand today?” asked Good Looks. “The girl’s a bombshell. She’ll have no problem finding someone else.”
The room was silent for a minute. Then Devotion spoke, “She has to pick someone sometime. I agree with Commitment in that Guy is too forward. He shouldn’t be making these requests this early into the relationship. But I think he actually cares about her. I mean, he didn’t let her initial refusal hold him back. He continued his pursuit, which I think is extremely admirable.”
Fair Welcome nodded. “His pursuit is definitely impressive. It shows that he genuinely cares about her. I think it’s great that they started dating, but I’m not really sure what to think about the rest…” He glanced at his sister. “Consent, what do you think?”
Consent’s gaze was steely. “I fully support Rose’s actions. If she’s not sure, he needs to respect that. He shouldn’t demand more than she is ready to give.”
“Thank you, Consent,” Commitment noted. “Now that everyone has given their opinions, let’s find a plan of action. We’re pretty divided. First, let’s tackle the issue of sex. Who favors Guy in this regard?” Lust and Good Looks raised their hands. “Those in favor of Rose? All right, sex is off the table (hopefully until marriage). Now to deciding the future of their relationship. Is there anyone who thinks they should break up?”
“Absolutely,” Ambition answered. “She has so much potential. It kills me to think of it being wasted on a man.”
“Thank you, Ambition, for your thoughts. Any others?” Commitment paused. No one moved. “All right, it sounds like we want Guy and Rose to stay together. Lets hear suggestions for what they need to do from here.”
“Well,” Devotion began. “Guy was pretty forward, but I think the relationship is totally salvageable. They will just have to take it slow. It will take a while for Rose to trust him again.”
“I agree,” piped Fair Welcome. “She definitely likes him.”
“This is one of the few instances that I say it’s okay to take time,” added Biological Clock. “That is, as long as it leads to marriage and children.”
Lust looked indignant. “Time? Taking it slow? That’s the biggest piece of—“
“—Above all else,” Consent cut him off, “in the statement describing our decision, we need to stress that he is to never, and I mean NEVER pull a move like that again. Whether in marriage or not, he should not push her to have sex. He needs to wait until she has made it clear that she is ready.”
Lust tried to respond, but Commitment spoke first. “Absolutely. That will help prevent further mishaps like this one. Does anyone else have anything to add? No? Okay, so our final statement… We do not permit Guy Williams and Rose Bell to end their relationship. However, from this point forward, they must take things slow. Guy needs, to put it crudely, keep it in his pants. They have to continue seeing each other for… let’s say… a month. If things are not going well after that point, they can return here and terminate the relationship. Does this sound fair?”
Everyone in the room except Lust nodded.
“All right then, lets return to the courtroom and give Judge Love our verdict.”