Today, I’m over at The Ballroom Blog talking about Guy Fawkes’ Day…a holiday that is near and dear to me for lots of reasons…not the least of which is that it’s a holiday that is near and dear to Simon & Juliana from Eleven Scandals.
And this year, as I’ve watched the news–beginning with the Arab Spring in the beginning of the year and ending more recently with the Occupy Wall Street protests across America– Guy Fawkes and the way history repeats itself have been in my mind. What Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot teaches us is that a dissatisfied populous can make change…but that violent dissension will always end badly. In his case, with a straw man on top of a bonfire being mocked by small children.
The following is cross-posted from The Ballroom Blog:
the fifth of November,
the gunpowder, treason & plot.
I know of no reason
why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot!
My mom is British, so I grew up knowing about Guy Fawkes and the foiled Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament and install a Catholic monarch, although for 5, 6 and 7-year-old Sarah, it was more about lighting a bonfire and watching fireworks than about a history lesson.
But if you’ll forgive me, I’m just going to tell you a few cool things, history-lesson-style: You see, Guy Fawkes wasn’t just a crazy guy with a wheelbarrow full of explosives (though certainly he was that). He’s a pervasive part of our culture today–Guy was the model for Satan in Milton’s Paradise Lost…and his “Guy” is the origin of our slang, “guy,” which was NOT a complimentary descriptor for a very long time. From the Online Etymology Dictionary: Guy: n. “fellow,” 1847, originally Amer.Eng.; earlier (1836) “grotesquely or poorly dressed person,” originally (1806) “effigy of Guy Fawkes,” leader of the Gunpowder Plot to blow up British king and Parliament (Nov. 5, 1605), paraded through the streets by children on the anniversary of the conspiracy.
My fascination with the day itself shouldn’t come as a surprise to those of you who have read Eleven Scandals. I’ll confess, I planned the whole Love By Number series so that Simon and Juliana could have their night in the country on November 5th…with bonfires and fairs and festivals and revelers. And now that Eleven is published and Simon and Juliana are real, I love Guy Fawkes’ Day even more now than I did before.
ASIDE: A few years ago, my husband and I rented V for Vendetta…which is a post-modern Guy Fawkes story. For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, here’s all I’ll say about it: It is NOTHING like what you think it will be. The trailer is atrocious and captures about 1/30th of the actual plot. Hugo Weaving is astounding, considering he spends the entire film behind a Guy Fawkes mask, and the story is really really compelling. I know, I know…you’re saying, “But in the previews she’s bald! and wearing a burlap sack!” Yes. Yes she is. And I honestly have no idea why that is what they picked for the preview…because it’s so not what the movie is.
For your viewing pleasure…V: