back to methuselah serpent monologue

EVE. ADAM. The ox shall make it something noblerthan grass before it comes to me. ADAM [_releasing her_] That is true. Well, will you pamper me ashe pampers his woman? [11] Unlike the plays Shaw wrote for staging, which include precise descriptions of the settings, the details of stage settings for Methuselah are sketchy and serve only to direct the imagination of the reader. CAIN. THE SERPENT. That must not be. Cain . He turns his face to his right and callsexcitedly. Some of them will neither dig nor fight: they are moreuseless than either of you: they are weaklings and cowards: they arevain; yet they are dirty and will not take the trouble to cut theirhair. And you? Even a bear would not eat a man if it could gethoney instead. ADAM. Through him and his like, death is gaining on life. Barnabas hotly contested the legality of this and favoured prosecuting. THE SERPENT. Kill, kill, kill, kill. You make my father here your mere convenience,as you call it, for that. THE SERPENT. Do you love your godmother Eve? But then,as soon as you like. But it might be. I will divide them into two greathosts. Let us listen to the snake. Theynever want to die, because they are always learning and always creatingeither things or wisdom, or at least dreaming of them. EVE. Sooner or lateryou will die like the fawn; and the new Adams will be unable to createwithout new Eves. Choose a day for your death; and resolve to die on thatday. I do not want to kill women. Both shew the greatestconsternation._. THE SERPENT. killing or digging in the garden and says her future sons will find things more wonderful to do. The Serpentspoken of in Genesis. But you could come softly up behind me and [_she suddenly pounceson his shoulders and throws him forward on his face_] throw me down sothat I should die. Selfish, yes: a life in which no man is his brother's keeper,because his brother can keep himself. [_Trying to pronounce it_] B-birth? CAIN. Mine I call the Voice ofGod. EVE. He is an "Ancient". THE SERPENT. He says he is the world's foremost general, invincible in battle, and adored by all his followers, although his victories cost great carnage. Two brothers, one a retired, but influential cleric (Franklyn) and the other a biologist of note (Conrad), independently conclude that humans must increase their lifespans to three centuries in order to acquire the wisdom and experience needed to make complex civilizations functional. time, Back to Methuselah and Saint Joan. Remonstrances ensue and the Ancient apologizes, saying that had he known there was a nursery here, he should have gone another way. EVE [_looking across the garden towards the hurdle_] Here is Cain. The body of the serpent becomes visible,glowing with wonderful new colors. Why, it gave me right. EVE. That is what hasbrought me to my mother today. Jealousy. ADAM. Shaw's promotion of Creative Evolution was always wrong, always shallow, and often rather cheap. It said that my deed was as a mark on me, aburnt-in mark such as Abel put on his sheep, that no man should slay me.And here I stand unslain, whilst the cowards who have never slain, themen who are content to be their brothers' keepers instead of theirmasters, are despised and rejected, and slain like rabbits. If they shorten their lives, they will dig and fight and kill anddie; and their baby Enochs will tell them that it is the will of theVoice that they should dig and fight and kill and die for ever. ADAM. THE SERPENT. I am not, perhaps, very clever; but--. Those whom I slay woulddie if I spared them. The reason for his doing so, as he tells Confucius, is that he doesn't wish to risk contracting rheumatism from exposure to the cold waters of the bay, since he might have to live 300 years, rheumatic. Pretty thing! Your flesh ceases to grow like man's flesh: itgrows like a fungus on a tree. 25253):[14]. Something quite different to myself, like you. Language links are at the top of the page across from the title. That is just what I feel; but it is very strange that you shouldsay so: there is no pleasing you. You her master! So I have to come back and listen to Adam saying thesame thing for the ten-thousandth time, or to receive a visit from thelast great-great-grandson who has grown up and wants to impress me withhis importance. I want to see my work sometimes. Why do you do it? Who invented killing? The birthing proceeds: In procession, youths carry a new tunic, ewers of water, big sponges and, finally a huge egg, which is placed upon the altar. She had a mighty will: shestrove and strove and willed and willed for more moons than there areleaves on all the trees of the garden. But who taught you to speak? It found that I wasmyself, and that it was for Abel to be himself also, and look tohimself. Both are speaking English, but their cultural backgrounds are so different that communication is not easy. That is whatmakes me sit brooding and silent and hateful. If you are content, like the bear, I am not. Bind the future by your will. Do you never think ofthat? Peace, peace, you two fools. 7279, (Constable & Co., London, 1949. PART I EVE. The diggers come: the fighters and killers come:they are both very dull; for they either complain to me of the lastharvest, or boast to me of the last fight; and one harvest is just likeanother, and the last fight only a repetition of the first. She asks if he is a foreigner and he denies it and says he is a Briton who lives in the capital. That may come too. EVE [_about to rise_] I will go and tell Adam to conceive. He can imagine: he canwill: he can desire: he can gather his life together for a great springtowards creation: he can create all things except one; and that one ishis own kind. Can you bear to look at himafter that? Go in peace. It wasLilith who did wrong when she shared the labor of creation so unequallybetween man and wife. [_She sits on the rock and throws herarms round the serpent, who begins whispering to her_]. ADAM [_dropping the snake's head in his excitement_] What! CAIN. It must not be, I tellyou. The Ancients' evolutionary goal, he tells the. Both sit on theground_]. One of them is cynical, not believing longevity will happen, but the other deems the theory valid, yet rejects the prospect out of hand because longer lives will be available to everyone instead of only the elite. I will tell Eve the secret; and she will tell it to you. You must not move about.You must sit still. You say we must not cease to exist. But for her, I could notresist the sport of trying to kill you, in spite of my fear that youwould kill me. No voice is needed to make me feel that. The arrow is lighter in the hand than the spade; but the energythat drives it through the breast of a fighter is as fire to watercompared with the strength that drives the spade into the harmless dirtyclay. The east wind shall wither Britain's enemies in the day of contest. ADAM. And what a wonderful thing! Yes. The Voice in the garden will tell them that theymust not kill, as it tells me. That which makes the difference between the dead fawn andthe live one. CAIN. The Devil thank her for it! Yes:there is no such thing as nothing, only things we cannot see. EVE [_throwing her arms round the serpent_] My beautiful snake. I take my chance. Life is still long enough to learn to dig, short as they aremaking it. A Glimpse of the Domesticity of Franklyn Barnabas, The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God, The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism,, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License 3.0, Evolving stages in the future progress of humanity, This page was last edited on 27 May 2022, at 06:56. The secret! EVE [_admiring it_] Oh! However, counter-measures are not taken because it is realised that any one of them may be long-lived too, but not yet aware of it. You may die when I have made another Adam. ADAM. Adam, crouching with one hand on therock, is staring in consternation at the dead body. That is why thereis enmity between Woman the creator and Man the destroyer. That is true. Yes: it was by meditating on Life that I gained the powerto do miracles. [_She strokes it and pets the serpent_].Pretty thing! I can never be alone.You always want to know what I have been doing. The fawn stumbled and fell anddied. The secret. Tell me this: who invented death? In the glade, a group of youths and maidens, all appearing to be eighteen or older are dancing gracefully to music played on flutes. ADAM. Cease your boasting and bullying, and tell the truth. Part 1 opened on February 27, 1922; Part 2 opened on March 6, 1922; and Part 3 opened on March 13, 1922. . THE SERPENT. It gives us the strength by which we made you and all mankind.Cut off from the clay which you despise, you would perish miserably. By quitting it I have set myselffree to learn nobler crafts of which you know nothing. Quick. He said that the Voice was the voice of the fire that cooked hisfood, and that the fire that could cook could also eat. English Deutsch Franais Espaol Portugus Italiano Romn Nederlands Latina Dansk Svenska Norsk Magyar Bahasa Indonesia Trke Suomi Latvian Lithuanian esk . He has invented tomorrow.You will invent things every day now that the burden of immortality islifted from you. Eat the dust. I am the most subtle of all the creatures of the field. Back to Methuselah; a metabiological Pentateuch. He rises, stiffens, and falls dead. I call it dead. Dead. Do. She is the creator, youthe destroyer. A path with stairs of rough-cut stone leads upward from the temple to the hill. Darkness ensues and the ghost of Adam appears as a vague radiance. THE SERPENT. EVE [_rising and running to him_] Only think, Adam! Bergson, Henri. He encounters a veiled woman and demands direction to the oracle. THE SERPENT. ADAM. I will hunt: I will fight and strive to the very bursting of mysinews. CAIN. I followed your teaching. And be it noted, Lilith, the first mother, is the presiding imaginative principle of Back to Methuselah itself. The two are scantily and carelessly dressed in rough linen and leaves.They have lost their youth and grace; and Adam has an unkempt beard andjaggedly cut hair; but they are strong and in the prime of life. That is very true. [_Flourishing his spear_] Try it, oldeverybody's father. If I am toeat like a bear, if Lua is to bring forth cubs like a bear, then I hadrather be a bear than a man; for the bear is not ashamed: he knows nobetter. What? It has not yet told me the secret. The final play, As Far as the Mind Can Reach, offers no solution to the problem: Humans evolve to the point of becoming free-ranging vortices of energy, able to wander, solitary, through the Universe, thus requiring no government at all. Languages: English, Espanol | Site Copyright Jalic Inc. 2000 - 2023. Andnettles, too! A few centuries later. Hewas the discoverer of blood. By that he is tied to you. EVE [_turning away from him with a shrug, and hugging her ankles_] Ishould soon get tired of that. ADAM [_rubbing his foot_] A thistle. When you have to snare the little tender birdsbecause it is too much trouble for her to chew honest food, how much ofa great warrior do you feel then? I am the first murderer: you are only the first man. Back to Methuselah (A Metabiological Pentateuch) by George Bernard Shaw consists of a preface (The Infidel Half Century) and a series of five plays: In the Beginning: B.C. It took Enoch two hundred years to learn to interpret thewill of the Voice. [_Hereplaces the hurdle across the passage_]. The first performances in England began at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre under the management of Barry Jackson on the 9th October 1923. She buries herface in her hands_. If that is to be thelast thing as it has been the first, let mankind perish. Moreover, he has recognized the person as the currently alive and active Archbishop of York. I ate the fruits of theearth. And it burst; and a little snake came out; and it became biggerand bigger from day to day until it was as big as I. Back to Methuselah (Revival, Play, Comedy, Broadway) opened in New York City Mar 26, 1958 and played through Apr 19, 1958. You can feel nothing but atorment, and believe nothing but a lie. . He leaves and the children pledge to stay forever young, but Chloe, somewhat older, says she feels drawn toward the ancient's way of life. I am the most subtle of all the creatures of the field. In the preface, Shaw speaks of the pervasive discouragement and poverty in Europe after World War I, and relates these issues to inept government. A He-Ancient, who is called to decide the creatures' fate. THE SERPENT. What is the good of being careful? [6][7]offers a solution: Lilith, who came before them, and was, in fact, their mother, made them male and female, so they have the ability to reproduce. Happiness is wicked.Certainty is blessed. Youshould try to have an existence of your own, instead of occupyingyourself with my existence. I envied his happiness, his freedom. How did Lilith work this miracle? EVE. THE SERPENT. ADAM. You are idle: you are selfish. The opening scene is a sunlit glade at the foot of thickly wooded hill, on a warm summer afternoon in 31,920 AD. Shaw says they are his names for what the churches have called Providence and scientists call Functional Adaptation and Natural Selection (among other names) and gives due credit to Henri Bergson's lan vital. When you dug, you made the earth live and bring forth as Ilive and bring forth. no advanced ideas! ADAM. Why not live bravely, and die early and makeroom for others? Think. The serpent has made a beautiful word for being. [5] These concepts had some currency among Shaw's contemporaries, and the Methuselah plays are based on Shaw's extrapolations from the two principles. Each has a say, in accordance with their characters, and Lilith prophesies an end of life's slavery to matter, whereupon the spectres vanish. EVE. You neither of you know anything about life. that know many more crafts than either ofyou, am tired of myself when I am not fighting or hunting. Then love will be no longer uncertain. And there, next to it, a briar. It was for that that Lilith set you free from thetravail of women, not for theft and murder. She agrees to let him stay and grasps his hands and looks at him. ADAM. It is admittedly possible to find some excuses for the negative side of his arguments, especially the refusal to be convinced by Darwin. The Gospel of the Brothers Barnabas is intended to teach an audience what readers of the Preface are assumed to have learned. They couldnot: I feel sure of that. THE SERPENT. It is a burden. I thought for a moment that perhaps thisstrong brave son of mine, who could imagine something better, and coulddesire what he imagined, might also be able to will what he desireduntil he created it. He has to dig for you, sweat for you, plodfor you, like the ox who helps him to tear up the ground or the ass whocarries his burdens for him. The sun will give life. EVE. Be silent, both of you. ADAM. I have striven with a man: spear to spear andshield to shield. Barnabas goes to meet the American inventor, who wants to use Records Office film footage to create a Then I must, though I loathe it. EVE. ADAM. Some day you shall see me come outof this beautiful skin, a new snake with a new and lovelier skin. Asked why, he says life alone is true and meaningful and that marble remains marble, no matter how skilfully it is shaped. He loved his brother. I have another thought: I must tell it to Adam. You see, life is too long. The serpent gave me fear. ADAM [_uttering a grunt of disgust_]!!! You change your mind so often. EVE. What are you, you poor slave of a painted face anda bundle of skunk's fur? Heinvented the altar to keep the fire alive. EVE [_joining him_] Oh! Shaw uses science fictioneering in Methuselah to add plausibility to scenarios and to keep readers entertained while he propounds his vision of the human destiny. His meal cost him a day's glorious health-giving sport andan hour's amusing play with the fire. You have made the beasts afraid of us; and the snake hasinvented poison to protect herself against you. It cannothappen. You say thatI make a mere convenience of Adam: I who spin and keep the house, andbear and rear children, and am a woman and not a pet animal to pleasemen and prey on them! The four rivers running withblood! I have striven with a boar and with a lion as to which ofus should kill the other. And I am very wilful, andmust have what I want; and I have willed and willed and willed. EVE. I am to be a mere convenience to make men for you to kill! All Rights Reserved. Are you tempted, Adam? The Serpent Fusima Chloe M'el Dowd. EVE. Boy: you have asked us a terrible question. It is I who am to die. Adam and Eve, as avatars for aboriginal humanity, discover a fawn dead from a broken neck and realize they, too, will die eventually from some mishap, even though they are immune to aging. BACK TO METHUSELAH A Metabiological Pentateuch by BERNARD SHAW 1921 Contents The Infidel Half Century The Dawn of Darwinism The Advent of the Neo-Darwinians Political Inadequacy of the Human Animal Cowardice of the Irreligious Is there any Hope Home - Books - Back to Methuselah by George Bernard Shaw This page contains affiliate links. You are hard enough to bear with as you are. I should belonely. It would be nice to be new again; but myold skin would lie on the ground looking just like me; and Adam wouldsee it shrivel up and--. He humanizes them to the point of wishing to die for each other, then allows them to die. I am not lying: I dare all truths. Whose fault was it that I killed Abel? CAIN. You callthat the nature of woman! Do not forget that, Adam. I am the old serpent, older than Adam, older than Eve. Try a taste of fighting. This play is getting its first American production since the 1922 world premiere in New York. The Archbishop is recognizably the Reverend Haslam, Savvy Barnabas' sweetheart, no longer callow, but dignified and confident and looking no more than fifty. Acs, a three-year-old, tries unsuccessfully to comfort him, but Stephen insists on remaining disconsolate until he finds another partner. I will give life myself. A monologue of The Serpent from Back to Methuselah. The voice in the garden is your own voice. CAIN. Ha! I had not thought of that. For it whispers to me that death is not really death:that it is the gate of another life: a life infinitely splendid andintense: a life of the soul alone: a life without clods or spades,hunger or fatigue--. Shaw also advocates what he calls homeopathy as a pedagogical method, arguing that society "can only be lamed and enslaved by" education. EVE. No one has ever uttered such a sound before. He wants me to die. It will be a busy day at the nursery: a birth is scheduled followed by the Festival of the Artists. The shouts of triumph! [_Shegoes to it; and he is emboldened to go with her_]. All were written during 1918 to 1920 and published simultaneously by Constable (London) and Brentano's (New York) in 1921. EVE. Back to Methuselah (A Metabiological Pentateuch) by George Bernard Shaw consists of a preface (The Infidel Half Century) and a series of five plays: In the Beginning: B.C. She belongs to a colony of long-lived people and has been assigned the task of protecting short-lived visitors. No longer arrogant, he asks her for advice. ADAM. What are you now, with your shield and spear, and your brother'sblood crying from the ground against you? Adam has invented something new. I tell you it must not be. Yet I am alive, and can burst myskin and renew myself as before. [_She dusts her hands, and draws awayfrom it_]. ADAM. CAIN. Man-eating! Pah! No: I do not think about myself: what is the use? Near her head alow rock shows above the Johnswort. What a frightfulthought! It hurts. His question: "How am I to satisfy my genius for fighting until I die?" EVE. No: I am afraid of it. It is something greater than me: I am only apart of it. EVE. Jealousy. CAIN. The garden is full of voices sometimes. Theremust be two Voices: one that gulls and despises you, and another thattrusts and respects me. Whatever I fear to do is wicked. Without danger I cannot be great. You have no real strength in your bones nor sap in your flesh. Think of it, man: to have no escape! Life has becomeuncertain. If only the sentinel set by the Voice can berelieved! Why not tame men and women to work for us? EVE. ADAM [_instinctively moving his hand towards her_] Husband and wife. Alone for ever. Undutiful! EVE. . One tires of everything.There is nothing new under the sun. ADAM. Dare it. There no doubt are others that are not mentioned. she inquires and he says "Yes," adding that he is touring these islands for sentimental reasons because, in ancient times, they were the centre of the British Commonwealth. wenonah prism vs wilderness, will hf and koh make a buffer,

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