The Last Days of Judas Iscariot Essay
Before seeing this play I did not know a lot about Judas - The Last Days of Judas Iscariot Essay introduction. I only remembered that he was the one to betray Jesus from reading the Bible early on in my childhood for CCD. After seeing The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, it helped me better understand who Judas was and the kind of life he lived. I was not fully aware of his close relationship with Jesus. I simply understood that he was chosen as one of his twelve disciples. In the play it is explained by Mary Magdalene that Jesus was closest to Judas and her out of all twelve disciples.
I was also surprised when she describes their relationship as Judas being “almost an alter-ego to Jesus – he was the shadow to Jesus’ light. He was the sour to the sweet and the cool to the warm. ” Initially I knew that he was known as the one who turned Jesus over to the Jews, but did not realize his reaction and his struggle following Jesus’ death. It was if Jesus believed in Judas, even after his betrayal, even though Judas did not believe in himself or the forgiveness of Jesus. The story of Judas sharing his spinning top with the other child came as a surprise to me.
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Since I knew he was the one to betray Jesus, he just seemed to be a heartless person. To hear that story from his mother during his trial provided me with compassion for Judas, which I did not have before. I thought the portrayal of Mary Magdalene was accurate to my image of her. I’ve read that most people see her as Jesus’ wife or lover but she described herself as his best friend. She also said they shared many good times together and sort of implied that the two shared chemistry in a way.
Although she did not come out and say that they were interested in each other, it seemed as if they loved one another more than just friends. Prior to seeing the play I did not know much about Saint Monica. Afterwards I did some research on her and found that she was the Saint of Married Women and the mother of Saint Augustine. The images and stories I read about her did not fit the portrayal of Saint Monica in the play. Of course, like most people, I view saints as being polite and well put together. Saint Monica in the play was the complete opposite of that image I had.
It did not offend me, but certainly shocked me. She seemed trashy, loud, obnoxious and juvenile. I was initially also confused as to why she was the one to go see Judas. But after some research and discussion with my father found that she was also the saint of disappointing/troubled children, in this case was Judas. I also enjoyed the idea that her and Mary were friends and knew each other. It made it seem as if everyone in heaven, or hell, have the opportunity to meet and become friends. I really enjoyed the depiction of Satan. His personality, clothing and persona seemed spot on to me.
Even his walk and body language matched up to the laid back personality I imagined. I was surprised however about the scene where he describes his love of God and how he does not hate him, as opposed to what most people believe. I found it very interesting, seeing as how I believed they were eternal enemies. Satan however, seemed to be nicer than I would imagine. Although I would imagine a laidback, carefree person; I also pictured a more dark and cruel man to be Satan. After all he is known as the “Prince of Darkness”. I expected him to curse, yell and laugh evilly more than he did in the play.
In addition, the energy that filled the room changed when Satan entered. Red lights were cast on the stage to create a darker, more hellish environment. There were a few themes brought up in the play; the most noticeable theme being betrayal and punishment. Not only was Judas’ betrayal to Jesus discussed, but also Butch Honeywell. Butch Honeywell, who cheated on his wife multiple times, speaks at the very end of the play. His monologue expressed the message that betrayal is betrayal, regardless of who you are or what you do. His most memorable quote would be “You cashed in silver, Mr.
Iscariot, but me? I threw away gold. ” Butch compares himself to Judas and believes that his betrayal to his wife was no different than that of Judas’ to Jesus. In addition, another major theme was the argument over predetermined destiny and freewill. Through most of the trial it is questioned through witnesses like Freud and Satan. Freud is questioned to describe the possibility that one is not in control of their actions. That people’s lives are predetermined at their birth, and no matter what they go through in life they have no control over the outcome.
Freud argued that Judas was crazy, and suffered psychologically. He believed that there was no way he was in control of himself when he betrayed Jesus. On the other hand, Satan is questioned because of the common myth that he was the reason Eve ate the apple, and that he was created to give people the freedom of choice to do good or evil. Another theme, or question brought up in the play was the existence of God. Does a God really exist if something this horrible could happen to his own son? Or was it in God’s predetermined plan in order for Christianity to be created.
Henrietta Iscariot, Judas’ mourning mother states her doubts in God in the play when she shouts out that “the world tells me that God is in heaven and my son is in hell. I tell the world the one true thing I know; if my son is in hell, then there is no heaven – because if my son sits in hell, there is no God. ” On the other hand, Mother Teresa believes that there is a God, but not everyone chooses to believe so, similar to the argument on free will. She believes that God guides people in the right direction and that it is their responsibility to follow him, or to choose not to, but in the end it is only their fault.
Overall, the main theme of the play was the cause and responsibility of Jesus’ death. Who is to be blamed? Was it solely Judas’ fault? Or did Satan’s evil persuade him? Maybe it all a part of Jesus’ and Judas’ predetermined fate, in order to create a new religion and belief in God? Since most of the themes were arguments, it seemed fitting for the play to have a courtroom setting. It provided a common setting that the audience could understand and made it easier to express the different thoughts and views of Judas Iscariot’s betrayal.
I was however confused with why the clock was on set, the only explanation I came up with was that it was if time stood still in purgatory and that is why it was always on 12:00. If not, I’m not sure what purpose the clock held. I also would have liked if Judas was seated closer to the audience. The trial was for him, but he was seated in the back center for most of the play. The costumes seemed accurate with the images each character had to portray. The lawyers were dressed in business professional clothing, as most lawyers and professionals would wear.
Cunningham had her hair tightly pulled back, expressing her professionalism and put-offish personality. She was dressed in slick, neatly pressed attire, and wore a pencil skirt to portray a somewhat underlying sexual image, which attracted El-Fayoumy. The Judge was dressed correctly as well; he wore the typical robe and had glasses, which implied intelligence. Mother Teresa wore her white robe with blue lines, which she is known for. Jesus’ costume was somewhat realistic to his image. He wore a white button up shirt, unbuttoned, as well as khaki paints, had facial hair and went barefoot.
I would have dressed him in a white tunic instead of a button up shirt however. But other than that, the portrayal seemed spot on. Mary Magdalene’s costume portrayed her as youthful and innocent, which some argue as the opposite of what she was. In addition, I found that Sigmund Freud costume did a good job of displaying the image of an intelligent scientist. He wore the typical light colored suit that most professors or scientists would wear, glasses, and had both the same longer than usual hair, and the same facial hair he is known for.
Pontius Pilate was dressed in a fine three-piece suit and walked upright, creating the image of success and arrogance. His haircut was short and clean, and he had no facial hair; which also seemed to support the image of success and wealth. I was however confused about Saint Monica’s costume. I was not sure why she was dressed the way she was dressed, which seemed to be in the 1980’s. She had the big poofy hair, chewed gum, jean jacket and sneakers. It went along with how her character was acting, but seemed to add confusion to the portrayal I had of her.
Satan’s attire was exact to what I expected him to wear if he were to dress in this day in age. He wore a button up tuxedo shirt, which was half tucked in and half buttoned up, a velvet jacket and had bright red socks on, to add the color of the devil. His hair was gelled in certain spots to create the image of what seemed to be two horns on top if his head. And as stated before, whenever he was brought into the play, the lighting would change to all red; this created the image of hell, and fire.
Overall, I believe the script, production and direction of this play was creative. It provided an updated portrayal of biblical tales and in a way helped the audience connect with characters they would have never thought possible. The themes were portrayed in a courtroom, debate setting, and helped spark a debate within the audience. The actors brought the emotion and story behind each character to help the audience understand their own beliefs. Whether they choose to believe in fate or free will, Heaven and Hell, or taking responsibility for wrongful actions.