The Demon symbolized blind pride and vengefulness. He was going to kill anyone who released him from the jar, despite the fact that it would be easy to assume that the people releasing him were doing him a kind service. He admitted to having originally wanted to reward the people kind enough to free him, but grew bitter at his trapped state and decided to kill whoever freed him.
This is a direct comparison to the King in the base story of 1001 Nights. One woman wronged the king and he proceeded to punish citizen after citizen, just as the demon was punishing anyone who freed him, just because previous possible saviors had not succeeded in freeing him.
The story is an allegory for the king to realize that he is being irrational and blind in his treatment of his citizens. The fisherman tricked the demon just as she tricked the king – with a story and with reason.
The beef and the jello are both consumables that represent pre- v post-industrialization, nature v technology, and the past v the present. Something as visceral as carrying and eating meat was used as a way of expressing the character’s state of being emotionally and also her position in the world while she was running. Back at home, at the end, the clean, bright, and clinical non-food that is jello represented where she ended up at the conclusion.
My overall impression of Leila’s father is not a good one, and I don’t believe I’m supposed to come away with a positive opinion of his actions. His character, however, is never directly attacked. He is not demonized. Most of his actions are explainable by societal norms. I don’t like using the word “patriarchy” because it’s so overused and polarizing. But as I read this and Tartuffe, I felt that Orgon and he both showed strong evidence of being decent human beings wrapped up in a certain way of looking at the world and acting. Leila does not seem to judge her father for acting the way that she did, but she does report that he put his honor above both of their lives, particularly in court. This makes him understandable, maybe even sympathetic, but not a person I would want to depend on to treat people ethically.
The Senator represents every person facing their own mortality. His act of falling in love with a younger woman and finding love only when he’s closest to death represents humanity’s obsession with remaining young and dwelling on youth. He is most alive and most deeply in love when he’s aware of his impending mortality. “Death Constant Beyond Love” reminds us that whether we’re in love, whether we acknowledge death’s inevitability, death will always be there. It is our choice whether or not to love before death takes us. The Senator’s life is improved with the love, yet he still dies. This is the happiest ending any story can have because it is the essence of humanity’s search for happiness and love.
Tartuffe definitely only attacks the corruptions of religion. Moliere’s characters Cleante and Dorine are written as counterpoints and examples of proper, decent religion. They both have lengthy speeches about men that are religious and not hypocritical being the pinnacle of humanity. When Orgon finds out about Tartuffe’s attempted seduction (or actual sexual assault, depending on the staging of the production) he condemns all pious men. Cleante then scolds him and says that if you can only be one extreme between condemning and trusting all pious men, it’s better to ere on the side of trust because most religious people are good and trustworthy. I believe that this is Moliere writing in the central message of his play.
Hugo’s Satan goes through the majority of the steps of the Hero’s Journey. I’m missing a clear goddess or temptress, but most of the trials other than that fit. Hugo’s Satan is also represented in a more human way. His emotions are presented for the audience to empathize with, which is a fascinating way to write about the devil. Hugo’s version of Hell seems a more elegant and simplistic version than the one presented by Dante. All of the levels and historical figures were almost lavish and distracting compared to the one guide of Satan in Hugo’s version.
The Village Saturday and A Young Man Loves a Maiden are connected in a subtle way that is fascinating to examine. I have trouble describing why the two are connected, but I felt so strongly that they were after reading them that I had to choose the two to examine. Both poems feel wistful. The Village is about innocence and village life. Its style is more dense and flowery than A Young Man but nonetheless, it expressed two parts of a story. Innocence and simple joys described in The Village are then wasted by young adults of A Young Man. I don’t think it’s an entirely pessimistic comparison, though. Both poems feel like an eternal story that is repeated and shared by all generations. And though neither ends completely happily, the cycle continues and humans connect through the shared experience. Though the young man has his heart broken, he will have children someday that live through the simple pleasures of childhood, rush into adulthood, and also have their hearts broken. The cycle is filled with sadness and joy – the definition of bittersweet.
Dante learned how strict and structured Hell was and, by extension, all of the things he needed to avoid doing in order not to land himself in any of the levels of Hell. I learned that the more specific and literal religious literature gets, the more outrageous it seems to me. I learned that I have a particular dislike of religions that have punitive measures built into their systems. It seems an unfairly harsh way of looking at humans, who most religions admit are inherently flawed. Are most of us really going to Hell? Because based on the system laid out in Dante’s Inferno, it would be very hard to avoid getting sent there.
Rama is considered a virtually perfect man but that word “virtually” is what keeps him from being a less interesting character. The points where he falls short and must struggle internally to retain his near-perfect moral composure are the most interesting, especially since much of it is in the subtext. His reaction to being exiled is an example of that. Though he retains his composure on the surface, the text and his brothers response to him heavily implies that retaining that careful composure is a great effort for him. The restraint of the text in not directly stating this turmoil is a parallel for his own hidden dilemma, and also a parallel for the Hindu value of human actions matching decency, despite any internal conflicts. I wish that more contemporary literature had such subtlety.
In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna seems like a god with a more solid moral high-ground than any of the gods portrayed in the Iliad. In comparison to the internal dilemma that Arjuna undertakes with a wise supernatural figure to advise and challenge him, Achilles seems like a petulant child. Arjuna is weighing the lives and well-being of virtually all of the humans he could possibly effect, while Achilles is weighing his own Honor against his own Glory. And while his Honor and Glory do incidentally effect the people around him, his awareness of that is filtered through his own quest for personal achievements. Arjuna’s quest for success is directly dependent on the good his actions do others. Violence in the Bhagavad-Gita is a force that must be considered for it’s overall effect on the world and whether it’s a positive or negative force. Violence in the Iliad is a means to an end – Honor and Glory for the individual using it.