The beauty of Veronica's character is that she has all the virtues of the noblemen of her time, and yet she displays them through her femininity. While she is wildly in love with Marco, once she becomes a courtesan she will not sleep with him, although she enjoys -- yes totally enjoys -- the sex with other men. It is Marco who finally breaks down and comes to her after a nasty altercation with his drunk cousin, Maffio (a deliciously evil Oliver Platt). And once they are together, it seems nothing can separate them. That is, until Venice needs Veronica to seduce the French King and get his help in their war. When she does, she wins their accolades but loses Marco.
When the men return from war, they find a completely transformed Venice; the plague has decimated the city and fanatical preachers assure the people that it is God's vengeance on them for their frivolous and licentious ways. Courtesans are beaten and killed. Veronica is imprisoned and accused of witchcraft by Maffio, who has always been jealous of her beauty and power. Marco wants her to plead guilty so she can confess and be absolved of her "sins' but she refuses because that will mean she has to deny who and what she is. Her speech before the Church court beautifully expresses the feminine standpoint that has been so denigrated by Christianity and patriarchy.
Dangerous Beauty by Marshall Herskovitz
Veronica Franco: "I confess that as a young girl I loved a man who would not marry me for want of a dowry. I confess I had a mother who taught me a different way of life, one I resisted at first but learned to embrace. I confess I became a courtesan, traded yearning for power, welcomed many rather than be owned by one. I confess I embraced a whore's freedom over a wife's obedience. I confess I find more ecstasy in passion than in prayer. Such passion is prayer. I confess I pray still to feel the touch of my lover's lips. His hands upon me, his arms enfolding me... Such surrender has been mine. I confess I pray still to be filled and enflamed. To melt into the dream of us, beyond this troubled place, to where we are not even ourselves. To know that always, this is mine. If this had not been mine-if I had lived any other way-a child to her husband's will, my soul hardened from lack of touch and lack of love... I confess such endless days and nights would be a punishment far greater than you could ever mete out. You, all of you, you who hunger so for what I give yet cannot bear to see that kind of power in a woman. You call God's greatest gift- ourselves, our yearning, our need to love - you call it filth and sin and heresy... I repent there was no other way open to me. I do not repent my life"
Wow! I love that speech. And yet, how many women today would think to say those things. We are so concerned with making our way in the world -- the masculine world of commerce -- that most of us don't value our relationships as much as our jobs. We no longer believe that relationships are central to our lives because we've bought into the patriarchal paradigm that power and money are more important than love and commitment. I'm not advocating going back to the old paradigm of patriarchal relationships and family values. I firmly believe, though, that women are the heart and soul of relationships and that we need to polish up our feminine virtues -- our courtesan nature -- if we want to create vibrant, loving, creative partnerships.
Women can find our wholeness when our sexuality is as full and as deep as our minds have become. The centuries of shame and sin that Christianity has projected onto sexuality must be healed and transformed, for sexuality cannot be anything other than spiritual when it becomes the union of body and spirit. Before we can engage in true union between two people, we must first bring about a union of body and spirit within ourselves. We must be somebody if we are to love somebody. Aphrodite can lead us to this kind of feminine individuation.
So if you haven't seen Dangerous Beauty go out and rent it today! It is a feast for the eyes and the soul. And then consider learning how to use those feminine virtues of Timing, Beauty, Cheek, Brilliance, Gaiety, Grace and Charm to enliven your life and all your relationships!
From the Bard's Grove,