A Writer's Journey

May 4, 2015

The Bed Switch

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I was going to do an entry on Star Wars because today’s May the Fourth (get it?). But I decided to change it after last week’s Once Upon a Time episode.

Background info: The show revolves around fairy tale and legendary characters cursed to live in our world. Robin Hood was introduced in Season 2 and brought back as a recurring character in Season 3—as a widower. During that season, he became the love interest to the reforming Evil Queen, Regina. In the season finale, his wife Marian was rescued from death due to some time traveling.

Recently, it was revealed that Marian was really Regina’s half-sister Zelena (AKA the Wicked Witch of the West) in disguise. She’s hell bent on destroying Regina’s life and separates Robin from her, so he decides to try again with the person he believes is Marian. In the episode that aired on April 26th, Robin learned the truth about Marian but revealed he had gotten Zelena pregnant.

20.22

I know that’s a lot and I really had to boil everything down to a nutshell. If you want to know more, I’d advise either reading my recaps or visiting the Once wiki.

So what does this have to do with the bed trick? And further more what is the bed trick? Good questions.

The bed trick is an old literary device in which Person A believes they will be having sex with Person B but instead have sex with Person C. I first encountered this by name when I was studying Shakespeare in college and we read Measure by Measure. The antagonist, Claudio, says he will release Isabella’s brother from prison if she sleeps with him—despite the fact she’s ready to take her vows to become a nun. Isabella agrees and receives help from the Duke, who knows that Claudio has broken an engagement to a young woman named Mariana. He arranges for Mariana to take Isabella’s place in Claudio’s bed, therefore consummating the engagement. He has to marry Mariana and Isabella gets to keep her virtue.

Shakespeare used the bed trick in a few more of his plays. Some of his contemporaries used it as well. When I was in England, studying Shakespeare, we saw The Changeling by Shakespeare’s contemporaries Thomas Middleton and William Rowley. It’s hard to really condense the plot of this play because I really couldn’t follow it. But there’s a woman named Beatrice-Joanna who has two suitors. She loves one (Alsemero) but is betrothed to the other (Alonzo). So she asks another man who has feelings for her, De Flores, to kill Alonzo so she can marry Alsemero. He demands to be paid back with sex and Beatrice gives in. (Though I do believe the production I saw staged it more like she was raped).

Beatrice marries Alsemero, but he suspects she’s not a virgin. So he’s going to give her something that’ll prove if she’s a virgin. Beatrice finds out and has her maid, Diaphanta, take the potion so she can mimic the proof of her virginity. She then also pleads with Diaphanta to take her place in her marital bed. Diaphanta agrees because she has feelings for Alsemero. He is none the wiser.

Things get more dark and difficult from there. But I’m just focusing on the bed trick here. Besides, this show was weird and I remember my class trying to figure out the plot during the interval. I still don’t think we succeeded.

Anyway, the bed trick. It’s still around as a trope, though we may not realize it. Nor is it one too commonly employed. Most people feel it’s a bit too improbable. Even if the room is completely dark, how can one not realize they aren’t in bed with the person they thought? I think soap operas still trot it out every so often. Usually they have the person either get very, very drunk or end up drugged so they don’t reveal the truth. Passions did something similar to Once Upon a Time, where Kay disguised herself as her cousin Charity in order to sleep with Miguel. There was a baby involved there too.

In some ways, OUAT has used this trope as well. Robin went to bed with the woman he thought was Marian but was really Zelena in a spell. Of course, there are tons of questions that still need to be answered. Zelena was using a necklace to keep up the glamor spell—a necklace the show already revealed Robin knew about and had used himself (though this was more to explain why two different actors had portrayed Robin Hood). There is also the fact that he moved on very, very quickly after choosing Regina back in Storybrooke. But the show tends to have things happen in a very short time.

(WARNING: The rest discusses some sensitive matters—mainly rape).

That’s something else now though. I want to focus on the aftermath in the fandom. People debated several things, including whether or not Robin was raped. In my opinion, he was. His consent was obtained fraudulently and many states define that as rape.

This got me thinking as well. I couldn’t think of similar situations where any addressed this fact. Probably because it’s a serious matter and the writers shy away from the repercussions. Most times, they focus is on the BETRAYAL. Yes, it all caps. Never mind that the guy was drunk or drugged, he should’ve known better. Or the woman. This does go both ways. No one ever delves into how the woman was raped. She usually has to deal with keeping from her significant other from finding out and trying to pass off the baby as his.

It’s time to delve into the full ramifications or we need to shelve this trope. Find something else to do, soaps. I’m sure you’ll find something.

I’ll see what Once does, though I’m not holding my breath for them to delve past the “Robin’s having a baby with Regina’s sister, how do they move past it” stage. As an Outlaw Queen fan, I really hope they can move past it and it’s not just swept under the rug.

We’ll see.

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