Time to look at another movie where a tea reference pops up — actually, it was a teapot, a Wedgwood teapot to be precise. The movie this time around was All That Heaven Allows (1955) with Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson. I’ve seen it a time or two before but hadn’t noticed the teapot or its symbolic significance in the story.
The teapot comes up about midway in the movie. Widow Cary Scott (Wyman) visits Ron Kirby’s (Hudson) tree farm as the attraction between them grows, despite the shock of her friends and the fact that he is younger and socially on a lower rung than she is. The old mill house is a mess at that time, but Ron tells Cary he will be fixing it up. She finds a broken Wedgwood teapot in light jasperware blue with cream bass relief. She says what a pity it’s broken and that the pieces didn’t seem to be all there. When she returns to the tree farm later in the movie, Ron has completed the renovations of the mill house and repaired the teapot like new. She picks it up, clearly delighted. They spend awhile enjoying a meal and the warm fire, but at the end she says that the relationship cannot be. As she puts on her coat to go, she knocks over the teapot, shattering it beyond repair.
Putting the pieces of that lovely teapot together is Ron’s symbol of their budding relationship that he sees as something wonderful and beautiful. When Cary shatters it, it symbolizes how she has shattered his hopes and dreams for their lives together, and probably her own dream of happiness with him, by telling him this was the end, based on the wishes of her children and friends. Her adult children are grown but can’t quite accept the relationship. Her social friends snicker at this “fling with a younger man” and can’t accept him into their circle. No tea party fun there.
The next time you see a lovely teapot, in a movie or in reality, remember that it can be more than just a great way to serve up that special beverage — tea! That teapot can hold hopes and dreams and can also symbolize their realization or their shattering. That teapot can, therefore, be either celebratory or consoling. Gotta love that versatiliTEA!
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