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    The Brilliant Symbolism Behind ‘Fleabag’ Fox In Phoebe Waller Bridge’s Iconic Show Explained

    Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s genius in the final scene of her iconic show ‘Fleabagleaves viewers with a complex emotion. As she breaks the fourth wall in the heart wrenching climax, Waller-Bridge gives a subtle nod to her viewers, leaving them with a mixed feeling of both agony and solace. Minutes before that, Fleabag confesses her love for the hot priest, who then utters the most dreaded words from the show: “It’ll pass“.

    After asking Fleabag never to meet him again and bidding an agonizing, apologetic goodbye, the hot priest walks away from the woman he loves. Between these two pivotal scenes is a small, seemingly insignificant detail: the entry of the fox that has been following the priest throughout the show. Like always, the fox appears out of nowhere and Fleabag tells it where the hot priest went — leaving her audience to wonder what the deal with this fox is. Well, here’s what.

    Related: What Is The Meaning Of Fleabag? Why The Show’s Lead Character Does Not Have A Name?

    What’s The Deal With The Fox In ‘Fleabag’?

    Fleabag and the hot priest
    Fleabag and the hot priest

    Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s whip-smart British comedy with a tinge of feminism draws to a heartbreaking close after two seasons of some brilliant screenwriting and the palpable chemistry between the lead characters. Played by Waller-Bridge herself, the lead character Fleabag falls in love with the hot priest played by Andrew Scott, and the short love story ends with a brutal heartbreak for both characters as well as the viewers.

    As history has it for Fleabag’s character, she can never have what she wants. This time, it’s because the man she has finally fallen in love with is a celibate. The twisted story with just the right amount of comedy mixed with soul-crushing tragedy brings forth a compelling narrative. But what many may have missed out on are the many symbolisms that the show has been adorned with.

    Religion is one of the interesting aspects that Waller-Bridge has light-heartedly explored on the show. Technically speaking, religion plays the role of an antagonist in ‘Fleabag‘. It is essentially God that Fleabag’s lover chooses over her. Along comes a set of beliefs that he follows; not to forget the rather comedic signs God gives him when things go wrong.

    However, interestingly, the hot priest never tries to decode the constant presence of a fox in his life. The hot priest is terrified of foxes, but this one fox follows him to all sorts of odd places throughout the show. It never harms him or even gets close to him. It just marks its presence, scares the hot priest off, and leaves. But the priest does not know why it does that.

    Chill out about the fox!” Fleabag tells at one point on the show. “I just don’t know what they want from me,” he says.

    In case you missed it: Is ‘Fleabag’ Season 3 Happening? Was The Show Canceled?

    Symbolism Behind The Fox’s Constant Presence In Hot Priest’s Life

    Andrew Scott in Fleabag
    Andrew Scott in Fleabag

    To decode the symbolism behind the fox’s presence in the hot priest’s life, let’s have a look at the exact moments that this furry creature scares the daylight out of our protagonist.

    The foxy affair begins innocuously enough when Fleabag and the hot priest share a gin-and-tonic-fueled heart-to-heart. A sudden rustling in the bushes sends the priest into a panicked frenzy, and he tells Fleabag, “Foxes have been after me for years. It’s like they have a pact or something.” He adds that foxes have made surprise appearances in his life several times, including when he was on a toilet in a train and a fox tried to get through the window, and another time when he was at a monastery and woke up with a fox pointing at him.

    Another scene when the fox marks its presence on the show is when Fleabag tells the priest she can’t imagine being a priest. “Especially the celibacy,” she says, and just then, the priest jumps up and shouts, “Oh! It’s a fox!” It happens again during one of the most crucial developments in their relationship — when the hot priest notices Fleabag breaking the fourth wall. That moment develops a kind of exclusive intimacy between the two. And just then, they both scream simultaneously at the sight of a fox.

    It’s safe to say that whenever this furry creature has appeared, the priest has been in a situation where he may have been doubting his decision to stay celibate. The first instance, when he’s in the middle of an emotional conversation with Fleabag, could be when he realizes he feels something for her, which is against the rules for him as a priest. Noticing Fleabag breaking her fourth wall lays the ground for some deep level of understanding between the two that is inclusive to the only two of them in the whole wide world. By this point, the priest is at least halfway in love with Fleabag.

    Having an encounter with the fox in the train bathroom could be because of a stolen, private moment there. Its presence at the monastery could be because of a possible sexy dream he had woken up from.

    The fox’s presence after the priest walks away also adds up now. In the final scene of the show, Fleabag sits at the bus stop when the priest tells her that he has chosen God over her. “The worst part is, I fucking love you,” she tells him. His eyes fill with tears. “It’ll pass,” he says, as he begins to walk away. But before finally going away, he looks over his shoulder and tells her, “I love you, too.”

    Enters the fox while Fleabag cries her heart out at the bus stop. It looks at Fleabag, and she tells it, “he went that way”. The fox follows the priest as if it knows the ongoing internal turmoil in his heart after living what could be the most heart-agonizing moment of his life.

    The fox can therefore symbolize two things — the hot priest’s conscience telling him to follow his longstanding urge to love and be loved, or God’s way of reminding him of the commitment he has to oblige with — both of which scare the priest just as the fox does. Either way, the fox symbolizes the internal struggle inside the priest’s heart as he falls in love with Fleabag while already having dedicated his life to God.

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    Aishwarya is a Senior Sub-Editor at First Curiosity. Working as a news writer for over 3 years, she has written on an array of things for a couple of media houses in different capacities. With writing as her outlet, she is now exploring the world of art and glamour. She has previously been associated with ETV Bharat and India Today as part of national editorial teams. With a fair share of work done covering national and international issues, she is now navigating through her abilities in the field of films and art. A movie and TV show buff, Aishwarya at First Curiosity tries to bring forth what a layman's eye might easily miss out on. Her flair for words and ability to convey what's between the lines are her biggest strengths. Her love for films and writing stems from her fondness for words and all things artsy. An avid reader and writer alike, Aishwarya likes to delve into any and all forms of art. When not tapping on her keyboard churning out articles, she can be found staring at books or screens, trying to find stories that'll help her explore the world and its portrayal through art better.

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