Saturday, 29 September 2007

Methodism - its effect on Gilbert and Sullivan!

I have just arrived back from Australia this morning and am not entirely sure which way is up! We enjoyed a few days holiday after the World Methodist Council Executive. Later this week I will probably blog about serious and important things, but for the moment I wonder if anyone reading this can answer a question for me. On Thursday evening Garry and I went to the Sydney Opera House to a performance of the Gondoliers by Gilbert and Sullivan. We were interested by quite how emphatic the laughter was at the line referring to the King of Barataria having become a "Wesleyan Methodist of the most bigoted and persecuting type". What did Gilbert and/or Sullivan experience of Wesleyan Methodism for this to be here at all? Is it intended to be ironic? Certainly no Methodists I know could be seen as in any way bigoted or persecuting ;-)

I had an interesting conversation recently about how Methodism is alluded to and portrayed in the media and a number of examples came up that were intriguing (my favourite is a quote from the comedy"Dinner Ladies" by Victoria Wood) and this is a similar train of thought. What makes the writers have their particular view of Methodism? The Gondoliers was first performed in 1889 and I wonder what the general public view of Methodism was at that time.


Sally said...

fascinating- and well worth looking into- I have a couple of hours to spare at Wesley House (Cambridge) tomorrow- I may go on a library raiding party!!!

Anonymous said...

Don't forget Gilbert was a satirist and it's a satirist's stock in trade to exaggerate. So for bigoted and persecuting read strict and censorious, which I think is probably a fair representation of how Wesleyans (note *Wesleyans*!) were seen at the time. Some of it must have been true.

npetrikov said...

The line is spoken by the Duke of Plaza-Toro, presumably a member of the Church represented in the show by the Grand Inquisitor. The joke (I think) is in having someone from the Land of the Spanish Inquisition refer to someone else's denomination as "bigoted and persecuting."