It’s an interesting exercise—taking a well-known story and putting in a plot twist diametrically opposed to what people have thought all their lives. I’ve run across two of these in the past few weeks, a novel and a play.
When my daughter was assigned to read C.S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces for her English class, I was intrigued. I’d never heard of this Lewis book, nor of the story of Cupid and Psyche, from which it is derived. (Somehow I missed most of Greek mythology.) Anyway, Lewis approached a well-known story of an ugly sister and a beautiful sister, the god who married the beauty, and the jealousy and bitterness that sprang up in the ugly sister, from a whole different perspective. His premise: what if the ugly sister couldn’t see the gifts and luxuries bestowed on her beautiful sister by her god-husband? What if her actions were interpreted as anger and bitterness over his sister’s beauty and good fortune, but instead sprang from a fiercely possessive love for her sister and a misunderstanding of her current circumstances?
It sounds crazy, but it worked—wonderfully—and on many levels.
In the same vein, my husband and I went to see Wicked last night. Wicked is a Broadway musical about how the Wicked Witch of the West became so. It starred all your familiar Oz friends and was again, quite a twist. Born green and unloved, the so-called Wicked Witch tried and tried to make good happen for people only to be misunderstood, only to have her powers used by the conniving wizard. In the end, she made Glinda, the Good Witch, promise never to try to clear her name, for it would only end up soiling Glinda’s, too.
The creativity of both of these authors astounded me—looking at the familiar in a whole new light. It made me wonder what part of the story I am not seeing in the people and situations I encounter. For isn’t that what happens in life so many times? We have expectations of people and situations and we assume the same pattern remains in place. It doesn’t always. I’m glad to be reminded of that. Sometimes others’ intentions are not what we thought. Sometimes others’ perspectives are completely different from our own. Sometimes we need to ask the Lord to reveal to us the story behind the story before we are able to see people through His eyes and extend them His grace.