The Jeweler's Shop

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The Jeweler's Shop (subtitled A Meditation on the Sacrament of Matrimony, Passing on Occasion into a Drama) (Polish: Przed sklepem jubilera) is a three-act play, written in 1960 by Karol Wojtyła (later Pope John Paul II), that looks at three couples as their lives become intertwined and mingled with one another.

The play looks at humanity's ideas and expectations of romantic love and marriage. It is a truthful and animated look at the way people are when in love and their motivations for entering into couplehood.

The play[edit]

(This plot summary is of the movie version rather than the play as published in translation.)

Act 1 - Signals[edit]

Andrew and Teresa are a young couple that have been friends for many years. A terrifying sound on a hike into the mountains with their priest, Fr. Adam, helps them to realize how much they mean to each other. The origin of the "signal" is never explained. Stefan meets Anna on that same hike and falls in love with her at first sight. Andrew later proposes to Teresa near to the town jeweler's shop, where they buy the wedding rings which symbolize their desire to be permanently united. Andrew and Teresa remain in Poland, where they are swept up in the tragedies of World War II; Stefan and Anna escape the war by emigrating to Canada.

Act 2 - The Bridegroom[edit]

Stefan and Anna are a couple in a troubled marriage where love does not seem to exist. Their lives are filled with emptiness and disillusionment. Anna goes to a jeweler's shop to sell her wedding ring, but the jeweler tells her it has no monetary value because her husband is still alive. She then meets the priest who had organized the trip to the mountains in Act 1 and opens her heart to him. The priest reminds her of the Parable of the Ten Virgins, and tells her to keep her lamp burning for the bridegroom.

Act 3 - The Children[edit]

Christopher (son of Andrew and Teresa) and Monica (daughter of Stefan and Anna) fall deeply in love and both reflect on the lives of their parents and how this has skewed their personal views of love and marriage.

Andrew has died in the war, when Christopher was two, leaving Christopher to fear the pain of losing love. Monica is afraid that marriage will not last because of her parents' troubled marriage.

Renaissance precursor[edit]

Four centuries earlier the humanist poet Italian Cardinal Pietro Bembo authored a prose work Gli Asolani (The People of Asoli) using a similar framing device of a marriage feast to explore true love's deeper roots. Refuting a superficial analysis of subjective good vs bad experience, pithily characterized by Bembo as amare (bitter) and amore (sweet), he illustrates a third possibility. Reconciling pain and suffering with happiness and joy, human lovers can aim at the perfection of pure Platonic love, the ideal of cosmic transcendence or everlasting union. The first edition of that work was dedicated to Lucrezia Borgia at whose husband's court he had been retained. While widely read in continental Europe at the time, the work was not translated into English until 1954.

Film adaptation[edit]

The Jeweler's Shop was adapted to the screen (La Bottega dell'orefice) by director Michael Anderson and writer Jeff Andrus in 1989 with award-winning actors Burt Lancaster and Olivia Hussey. The film's title used the English spelling "Jeweller" rather than the American "Jeweler".

External links[edit]