Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Lex Luthor Versus Ludwika Chopin

In television’s incarnation of the Superman legend called “Smallville,” Lex Luthor and Clark Kent grow up together in a typical American small town. Although they begin life as best friends, over the years they both come to realize their personalities and maybe even fate have cast them as adversaries. This troubles both of them and, while their friendship is still strong, they often try to understand how affection can turn into hate, how friends can turn into enemies. In season three, episode 20, “Talisman,” Clark and Lex are confronted with an ancient Native American prophecy about Earth and Krypton that speaks of powerful friends becoming powerful enemies, one a hero, one a villain. Clark, who knows the truth behind the legend more completely than Lex, tries to deny how the legend will impact his friendship with Lex. Lex faces up to the reality of the legend and searches for an interpretation that fits his personality and Clark’s.

LEX: You know, I’ve been thinking a lot about this prophecy. I’ve got a new interpretation. Want to hear it?

CLARK: Sure.

LEX: This Naman guy is supposed to come from the stars, have the power of ten men and shoot fire from his eyes, right?

CLARK: It’s just an allegory, Lex.

LEX: I know. But if one person could do all that, he would be a formidable enemy. He could conquer the world. He could become a tyrant if nobody kept him in check. So I’ve been thinking. Anybody who’d be willing to fight him would have to be pretty brave. Clark, did it ever occur to you that maybe the hero of the story is Sageeth?

Ludwika Chopin, the composer’s older sister, gave him his first piano lessons when he was a child. The two remained close through his life. In 1849, when Frédéric was dying, he asked his friends to arrange for Ludwika to be at his side.

Ludwika had an odd relationship with her husband. It appears to have started with love, but then, somehow, turned into something else. Her husband apparently hated Frédéric and was jealous of Ludwika’s affection for her brother. Her husband refused to pay her expenses to travel from Russia to France to be with her dying brother. Ludwika was able to raise enough money for herself and her daughter to travel to France, but not her sister and mother.

Ludwika was with Chopin when he died. Afterward she wrote a letter to her husband expressing her grief at her brother’s death and at her husband’s actions, her love for her brother and her hatred for what her relationship to her husband had become:

I went there to look after him, to nurse him, to console him, to endure any hardship as long as it would bring him even the smallest relief in his sufferings—and he, poor thing, liked to talk late at night, to tell me all his troubles, and to pour into my loving and understanding heart anything that concerned him most.

... Out of a friend you became a tyrant, and I out of a friend became a slave. ... To all my sufferings one more was added. I ceased to believe in the existence of friendship.

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