To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
Mr. Maccoby's review of the American production of The Confidential Clerk is the most interesting to have appeared thus far. His contention that the play has a symbolic connection to the story of Christ seems to me to be valid. I should like to press the contention a little further, to suggest just how elaborately Mr. Eliot, abetted by his favorite director, Mr. E. Martin Browne, has worked out the Christian parallels.
Take, for example, Lucasta Angel and Sir Claude Mulhammer. That Lucasta symbolizes Mary Magdalene, the fallen woman who is absolved through faith and love, is suggested first of all by her very name: Lucasta is a name which, despite its original connotation of chastity in Lovelace's poem, has taken on tawdrier associations in our own time (Anna Lucasta) and can therefore be taken to symbolize the fallen Magdalene. On the other hand, the Western legends which sprang up about the absolved Magdalene almost invariably linked her with angels (in the art of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance she is depicted as receiving the sacraments at the hands of angels, as being borne up to heaven by angels, etc.) But the Magdalene symbolism in The Confidential Clerk is visual and dramatic as well as verbal. In the first act of the play, Lucasta Angel enters wearing a dress with large red flowers at the bosom. Red is the symbol of love and the color which is associated with Mary Magdalene early in her career. Throughout the act, a gold spotlight is trained on Lucasta, which not only gives her hair the same golden hue as Mary Magdalene's was supposed to have, but which also symbolizes the money which the gluttonous Lucasta is demanding. In the second act, the red motif has disappeared from Lucasta's clothes and the gold spotlight is used only intermittently. Confronted by the love of the Christ-figure, Colby Simpkins, Lucasta breaks down and confesses the story of her past. Like Mary Magdalene, Lucasta has a noble father, but has lived a loose, selfish life which she now regrets. The fact that for much of this scene Lucasta is seated at Colby's feet and that her confession climaxes in a flood of tears parallels the act of penitential love performed by Mary Magdalene when she washed Christ's feet. And just as the seven demons which possessed Mary Magdalene are expelled when she talks to Christ, so Lucasta at the end of the second act is released (although she does not yet know it) from the way of life symbolized by the seven deadly letters of her first name.
Sir Claude Mulhammer, who thinks he has a male heir, but finds instead that his son has been born of the Virgin Mary, is quite clearly related to the figure of Joseph in the Christ story. There is, once again, the matter of the name. Claude Mulhammer: claw hammer. This basic tool of the carpenter suggests, of course, Joseph's trade, as well as Sir Claude's own dream of the craftsman's life. But Sir Claude is not a craftsman, he is a City financier, a fact which is reflected in the other meaning of claw hammer--a swallowtail dress coat. Kenneth S. Lynn, '45 Tutor in History and Literature