Allegory of Prudence

As Blunt is delivering a lecture on the Triple Portrait he tells the class “the painting is a riddle, and this and similar riddles are quests one can pursue for years”. It is easy to depict that this statement would be delivered in a tone which would portray deep thought because it closely relates to himself as the “painting”. The painting would represent his life in this metaphor and the riddle the mysterious controversy surrounding it.

From the same statement; “riddles are quests that can be pursued for years” it is a strong indication that he feels his very own “riddle” has been going on for years and that it has been the police’s “quest” to follow it. The effect of using these metaphors is that it constantly gives the audience a sense of importance to the play that they have to work out the plot from these frequent metaphoric hints that Bennett provides. One of the pivotal metaphors within the play is the famous painting called An Allegory of Prudence.

I believe this to be a main feature of the play because it gives us an insight into Blunt’s past, present and future and the way he sees them developing as well as how we interpret them. I personally interpret the painting in the sense that the three animals represent the three stages in Blunt’s life. I believe that the wolf on the left is meant to connote the idea of his past being devoured so that his work with the Russians is eaten up as well as all the evidence so that it protects the lion in the middle which represents the present.

I also get the impression that the lion in the middle shows us that that Blunt is currently stuck in the Middle of his life because he can’t move forward. The dog on the right of the picture represents Blunt’s future which is being poorly guarded because the dog is not good enough, meaning his future is in limbo because he is on the verge of being exposed as a spy. The lion therefore stuck in the middle because the dog is not strong enough to protect his future from the lies. As the play draws to a close Blunt gets exceedingly closer to becoming exposed as the traitor he is until he is finally revealed as a spy.

Moments prior to the curtains drawing to a close “Chubb and Blunt sit spotlight for a moment, looking at each other, before the lights fade”. As the lights fade it shows the blatant representation of Blunt’s life fading away; his title of “Sir Anthony Blunt”, his job and his privacy. Therefore, as the light dies, Blunt dies. This also relates back to art once again due to his love of art dying as he does because he will never be able to analyse or study art; he will be in prison for the rest of his life.

As it turned out though, the end of his life was sooner than most though it would be as he died two years after being sentenced in 1983. In conclusion as you watch this play it’s plain to see that this play isn’t an average straight forward play. It is quite the opposite; the play is not only an extended metaphor, but an extended metaphor with an abundance of almost miniature metaphors within the entire play resulting in an intellectual play where the audience are constantly involved in the piecing together of the plot.

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