The Giant's Foot
In the musical “Into the Woods” Sondheim weaves the pages of various fairy tales together to tell an entertaining story that reinforces the lessons in each. In short, the whole of the consolidated tale is greater than the sum of its parts. The tales are woven around the destruction wrought when a giant besets the kingdom and the seemingly unrelated acts that led to the giant’s invasion. If you have not seen it, you should. (I prefer the Broadway play version over the Hollywood movie version.)
It teaches valuable lessons about theft and its consequences; the desire for more while ignoring what one has; the danger of following a stranger off the path of safety; the willingness to carry out the King’s orders without consideration to consequences of those orders; the folly of fingerpointing and blame; and, perhaps one of its more important lessons, that nobody is alone. In part of the story, two characters (the baker and his wife) argue in the woods until at one point, the wife cries out: Will only the stomp of a giant’s foot stop you from arguing?
It’s odd how this story that takes place in the days of yore is apropos to today’s society. Human nature, being what it is, these universal themes and lessons must constantly be reinforced so that we see and heed the warnings contained therein. During times of ease and comfort, it is easy to forget the danger that lurks with the giant in the sky. But when the giant besets the Kingdom, he comes down the beanstalk that grows in the fertile soil of division.
In the words of one of the songs (edited below):
“Just remember, Someone is on your side . . . Someone else is not . . . While we're seeing our side . . . Maybe we forgot, they are not alone. No one is alone. Someone is on your side. No one is alone”
We believe ours to be the “right” position or stance. We believe ours to be the only way. We bedevil, excoriate, and blame the other side. The beanstalk grows up to the sky and the giant besets the kingdom.
So, I ask: Will only the stomp of a giant’s foot stop you from arguing?