World Philosophy Literature
Justice and Injustice in Medea’s and Socrates’ View Essay (Critical Writing)
The question of justice or lack of it arises often in any societal set-up because people are inclined to pursuing malicious agendas for personal gains. This scenario leads to unfairness and adversity, but the response to such occurrences depends solely on the person who has been offended or denied justice. In Apology, Socrates is accused of different issues including corrupting the youth of Athens. He sits before a jury and after presenting his defense, a guilty verdict is made and he is sentenced to death by poisoning.
In Euripides, Jason decides to leave Medea, his wife, for another woman, despite the two of them having undergone great suffering. Medea has sacrificed a lot for Jason and thus when he decides to leave her for Glauce, she is consumed by anger, which inspires her revenge mission. The purpose of this paper is to compare and contrast how Medea and Socrates respond to injustice or unfair accusations.
Socrates vs. Medea
Both Apology and Euripides share an overarching normative question on how people choose to respond differently to the question of injustice. Socrates is unfairly accused of corrupting the youth of Athens among other trumped-up charges. He chooses to defend himself against such charges by facing the justice system of the day. He asserts, “It is right for me, gentlemen, to defend myself first against the first lying accusations made against me and my first accusers, and then against the later accusations and the later accusers” (Apology 18b).
On the other hand, in Euripides, the play opens with Medea complaining about the injustice she has suffered at the hands of Jason, her husband. She says, “I wanted to come here, to speak to earth and heaven, to tell them about the wrongs inflicted on my mistress… Stopped crying? I envy your ignorance. Her suffering has only just begun – she’s not even half way through it” (Medea 70). Here are two cases defined by injustice and unfairness, but the offended parties choose to respond differently.
On the one hand, Socrates decides to face his accusers and defend himself within the set legal system. On the other hand, Medea resorts to crying and lamenting about Jason’s decision to leave her and her children for another woman. These initial reactions and approaches to adversity are important because they lay the foundation of how the rest of the story unfolds.
The overarching normative issue in these two cases is the question of injustice and unfairness. Both Socrates and Medea’s issues converge at adversity and they have to decide how to react under such circumstances. However, their responses diverge primarily due to their philosophical grounding. The following section discusses how Medea and Socrates respond or react to adversity by comparing and contrasting the actions of the two characters.
In the case of Socrates, he finds himself in a complicated situation where he is being accused of surreal charges of corrupting the Athenian youth and questioning norms. Therefore, from the onset of the trial, it is clear that in a just system, he will win the case. However, the system is unjust and the jurors are determined to convict Socrates. In the opening parts of the speech he notes,
I must surely defend myself and attempt to uproot from your minds in so short a time the slander that has resided there so long. I wish this may happen, if it is in any way better for you and me and that my defense may be successful, but I think this is very difficult and I am fully aware of how difficult it is. Even so, let the matter proceed as the god may wish, but I must obey the law and make my defense (Apology 19a).
In other words, Socrates is aware that he may not win this case, but he is prepared to face the law of the land, as currently constituted, as part of being a responsible citizen. Ultimately, Socrates is convicted and the verdict is given that he should die by poisoning. At this point, it would be expected of him to challenge that decision and appeal to a higher court or call in witnesses to testify on his behalf. However, he chooses to respect the process of judgment and in pursuit of the truth, the best he can do is to present his case as honestly as he can. He posits, “It is not the purpose of a juryman’s office to give justice as a favor to whoever seems good to him, but to judge according to law, and this he has sworn to do” (Apology 35c).
At one point, he even hints that he could have used emotional manipulation to influence the outcome of his case, but he chooses to do the right thing. In other words, by abiding by the jury’s verdict, Socrates shows that he is willing to respect the justice system despite its many shortcomings.
On her part, Medea chooses a different direction in dealing with her adversity. Her lamentations and self-pity about the injustices that Jason has meted on her quickly turn into hatred, which stirs vengeance as a way of attaining justice. According to her, the only way out of her predicament is killing Jason’s, newfound love. Even after Aegeus, the King of Athens offers her a sanctuary in his palace, she is too blinded with a vengeance that she goes ahead with her plan to make Jason suffer by killing their children and Glauce.
After succeeding in executing her wicked plans, she rejoices in the death of her victims. To the messenger who reports the death of Glauce and her father, she says, “Tell me of their deaths. If you report they died in pain, you’ll double my rejoicing” (Medea 1340). In the process of avenging her injustices, she not only destroys Jason but also herself. Therefore, the quest for justice takes different routes with Medea deciding to achieve it by her means and Socrates choosing to respect the flawed Athenian laws as a responsible citizen.
An Apology and Euripides, two people are facing a similar normative problem of injustice, but they choose to respond differently. Socrates respects the rule of law and subjects himself to the justice system even though he knows he cannot win against a biased jury that is out to have him convicted and sentenced to death even if it means trumping up charges against an innocent man. He chooses to stand by his principles in the face of adversity even when he can manipulate the case emotionally to his favor. On the other hand, Medea decides to respond to adversity and injustice through vengeance. She kills her children, Glauce, and Creon, which means she self-destructs in the process.
Commonwealth in “Utopia” by Thomas More Essay
Utopia, written by ancient politician Thomas More, is a book illustrating the ideal model of the state and the structure of society, for which all people and nations should strive. There is no doubt that in his book More relies on Plato’s work The Republic, which he had always been fond of since student days. However, More used The Republic only as the foundation for his book, and was concerned more about the nascent industrial capitalism and its consequences. Utopia, published in 1516, gave the name to the whole genre. “A truly golden little book, no less beneficial than entertaining, of a republic’s best state and the new island Utopia,” as More first named it (Achten et al. 1, 2017). The impetus for the writing of this book were undoubtedly More’s impressions from the complicated village life in England and the moral state of urban society, distorted by excessive interference of academic philosophy.
The commonwealth that is described in the book seems to be beneficial for people, community and a state. Nevertheless, there are issues raised in Utopia that might influence the contemporary state of people’s life. This paper will discuss the statement, “The commonwealth of Utopia turns out to be a highly attractive place in some ways, but a highly unattractive one in others” (More 12, 2000). The comment presents an issue of Utopia, the controversy of More’s discussion that affects the commonwealth of the state that will be analysed to argue that the statement is true. Further, the reasons for this argument will be discussed and cases that can support the assertion of Utopia as being both an attractive and unattractive place to live for different citizens will be presented.
The Overview of the Book
In the first part of Utopia, Thomas More criticises modern England: especially the ruining of peasants, which the rich were pushing from the land and giving fields for pasture for sheep. The humanist More opposes Royal despotism, wars and the death penalty. In the second part of the book, the author tells about the structure of the fantastic island of Utopia, where it is possible to build an ideal state. Utopia includes fifty-four cities, each of which is home to six thousand so-called “families” (More 79, 2000). In the “family,” there are ten to sixteen adults who are engaged in a particular craft.
Around the cities village families live, where each citizen is obliged to work for at least two years. All men and women in the country are engaged in agriculture. Moreover, everyone learns some craft that is passed down from one generation to another. If someone does not enjoy the family business, this person is transferred to the family which is engaged in a more suitable craft. If the cities are overpopulated, the citizens of Utopia are relocated to colonies and vice versa. In the centre of each town, there is a market where goods and food are taken. Everyone can take as much as needed: everything is available in abundance.
Utopia is a country located on an island that has ever existed, but people have not gotten to it yet; however, theoretically, they can. All utopians are primarily concerned with spiritual development, but do not forget to work effectively for the benefit of society (More 90, 2000). In science and art, utopians have reached great achievements. If foreigners visit them, the citizens of Utopia get acquainted with their culture and sciences in detail, quickly comprehend them and develop them at home. The life of utopians consists of virtue and the pleasures of body and spirit. Citizens help the weak and take care of the sick. Health is one of the chief pleasures; beauty, strength and agility are also appreciated.
Utopia is an absolute monarchy with a Council of elders. Utopians work three hours before lunch and three hours after. Six hours is enough to serve for all social needs because the requirements of individuals are minimal: free time is given for spiritual development and education, and, for example, everyone’s clothes are the same (More 88, 2000). Ordinary types of work citizens execute consecutively, one by one. The exception is possible only if a person has extraordinary achievements in science or art. Thomas More could not decide what to do with those types of labor that in any society were considered dirty (for example, if you have to deal with garbage), and that is why the author introduces the institution of slavery. Slaves can be citizens convicted of adultery (the victim of a family had the right to get a divorce), or foreigners who were exiled to Utopia or were captured there (More 146, 2000). Slave labor is better than the execution of people. Money is abolished in Utopia, and night pots are made of gold.
Citizens choose officials in Utopia; for high positions, public authorities are only selected among scientists. These wise men form the city Senate, and they choose the King. An enlightened monarch reigns for life unless he is convicted of despotism. In Utopia, there is no private property because Thomas More considered it evil. Therefore, there is almost no crime, no need for complex laws, as the author suggests it. Utopia is not at war with anyone; nevertheless, it is ready to defend itself. Commonwealth tolerates freedom to choose any religion, but atheism is prohibited.
The Review of Life Presented in Utopia
When analysing T. More’s ideas about the political structure of society, it can be emphasized that utopian democracy contrasts sharply with the system of government of feudal absolutist states, based on the appointment of officials from above and the dominance of bureaucracy. The author considered the operation of Utopia the best for the human interests of people. The religion that survives in Utopia is purged of all that have no scientific explanation: superstition and fiction. More challenged the dominant Catholic church by introducing a system of elective priests in the perfect state.
The politician goes much further than Plato when defining the perfect state. Utopia is not a city state that is self-sufficient, but a nation-state, occupying a territory about the size of England, and living, in contrast to other commonwealths, the complete national life. Plato’s republic was only a small aristocratic society that was dependent on the labor of slaves and peasants; communism was spread only among the ruling class. The communism of the utopians, based on abundance and security, surpasses the equalization of the bourgeois socialists, who do not see that the equation can only appear after the destruction of classes.
According to More, Utopia is a society without classes consisting of a majority that is free from exploitation. However, in designing an equal organization, Thomas More seems to be inconsistent, allowing the existence of slaves in Utopia. Slaves on the island are deprived category of the population, burdened by heavy labor duties. They are chained and continuously at work without joy that is a prerequisite of Utopia. Slaves were needed to save citizens from the most challenging and dirty work. It can be stated that slavery is the weak side of More’s utopian conception.
The existence of slaves in an ideal state is contrary to the principles of equality on which More has based the perfect social order of Utopia. However, the proportion of slaves in the social production of the country is insignificant because the leading producers are still citizens. Slavery has a specific character in the book; in addition to its economic function, it is a measure of punishment for crimes and a means of re-education.
The ideal outlined in Utopia is made with the idea that people are created for normal human labor and that it is achieved only by the elimination of private property. Thomas More did not disclose in Utopia plans how the transition to the future system will be conducted. He rejected the path of reforms from above but did not encourage revolutionary changes. It can be stated that his attitude to popular movements was controversial. It is hard to say if More was afraid of revolutionary movements or not. Nevertheless, in Utopia, the humanist expressed the view of the rebellious spirit of the oppressed as a noble spirit and endowed the perfect state with the function of helping other folks to overthrow tyranny in their countries.
More’s Commonwealth and its Controversy
A utopia is a place where there is no conflict, no envy of more successful people (no private property), no competition (everyone is the same, not only in clothes but also in their needs and aspirations). There is no arbitrariness of power (it is wise and perfect), a short working day and confidence in themselves and loved ones (More 73, 2000). In this sense, the place is attractive for people who want to live in the perfect commonwealth. The socialism that Thomas More suggests building seems to be not feasible for scientists as they argue that the economic system described in the book cannot be achieved (Mangeloja 78, 2019). Thus, the state of Utopia cannot be attractive for people as it has fundamental structural failures.
However, there are crucial issues around this state that make it unbearable for living and impossible to establish. The structure of society in Utopia seems fair, but the individual preferences and desires of utopians are not taken into account. For example, in most cases, citizens learn the craft in which their parents were engaged, and it is hard to switch to other work. Officials and clergy are chosen from those who are already exempt from physical labor. Such privileges for a narrow circle, in any case, lead to an increase in social tension, tranquility in such conditions is impossible.
As socialist ideas gained public acceptance, a sharp ideological struggle broke out around More’s socialism. There are two main dimensions of the discussion: one was to prove that socialism is not More’s ideal, and the other was to show that this ideal is bad. A prominent place in the interpretation of Utopia belongs to Catholic literature (Wilde 101, 2016). Having beatified More’s view for propaganda reasons, the Catholic church had to dissociate itself from socialism. The ideologists of the church tried in various ways to prove the idea that communism is not More’s conviction. They said that the meaning of Utopia is only in the abstract preaching of brotherly love, the spirit of collectivism and the liberation of souls from the instinct of acquisitiveness.
The second trend of More’s critics, on the contrary, connects his ideas with socialism, not only with the perfect one but also with the scientific. The main reasoning of the critics is the danger of utopias in general, their potential to become a reality and the threat they pose to the natural development of people without interruption. Thus, it can be stated that the concept of Utopia brings not only attractive opportunities, but the danger of structured commonwealth lies in the chance to turn the idea around and harm the freedom of people.
It might also be stated that despite its concept, Utopia, as a state described by different humanists and philosophers, stays the idyll that cannot be achieved. Scholars highlight that Thomas More’s commonwealth included and organized various crucial issues needed for human beings, such as justice, distribution of resources, truth, shared goals and shared things (Corman 9, 2018). In this sense, articles clearly support the view that Utopia might be an attractive place to live in. However, scientists subconsciously assume that Utopia is not a reality because such an attractive place to live cannot be created as there always are issues that disrupt the perfect functioning of the state.
Shared society and economy that exist in Utopia fulfill the concept of helping those who are on the periphery of the state. The unattractiveness of this concept lies in the fact that while trying to remove the line between public and private space, socialism pursues a goal of a person’s depersonalization. Scholars argue that “the elaborate ideology of status and custom that provided a time honoured justification for the unequal distribution of wealth in society, is accompanied by an equally comprehensive social framing of identity” (Hall 34, 2016). This article supports the view that a commonwealth in Utopia may have an adverse effect on society and repel people from living there.
Uniformity in living, including food, clothes, homes; standardization in crafts and family occupation; homogeneity in personal expression and aspirations; drive a decrease in individualization and aim to get a unified society. The threat can be seen due to the uniformity of people that may lead to the easiness of control and management of people that may lack rational consciousness. One can highlight the alarming situation in Utopia that may be affected by the dominant ideology that undermines the commonwealth that has created public space and destroyed the private one. The author does not explicitly state how the issue of tyranny that may arise in the homogeneous state can be addressed and handled correctly.
More’s commonwealth that is based on specific political and economic system encourages readers to consider the options of saving or destroying the private property. Scholars claim that the discussion around this action is still relevant in the modern states as there is an inconsistency among countries on the view of the efficient development of society and the achievement of idyll (Arfi 1220, 2016). Thus, scholars also highlight the controversy that contributes to the argument that Utopia can be both beneficial and unfavorable for people. Nowadays, one can state that socialism has not proved its efficiency. At the same time, capitalism thrived in many countries and suggested that the commonwealth described in Utopia may not be beneficial for citizens of the state.
Thomas More was not only the founder of the utopian socialist movement but also the founder of its democratic direction, which presents socialism as a rational organization of society and as a means of solving social contradictions, the abolition of social inequality and exploitation. More also supports democracy in the sense that he built the perfect political system on the principles of freedom, equality and respect for a human. More sought to establish clear boundaries and relations between religion and mindfulness to make society more humanistic and open, avoiding both the complete denial of worship and a variety of superstitions.
More does not give a reader a ready-made recipe for how to rebuild society but roughly outlines the path that can lead people to happiness and prosperity. The unsolved problem of the transition to socialism is mainly affected by the utopianism of More’s views, associated with an uncertainty of the possible historical development. It is not a coincidence that More wrote his work in a debatable form to leave the question open to future generations. Although Utopia is an ideal model, it reflects the ideas and positions that each state should strive for in its development based on social justice and universal well-being.
The author emphasizes that domestic policy should be of a higher priority over foreign policy because it is primarily concerned about the lives of its citizens and their well-being. Nevertheless, there are specific issues raised in the book that need to be addressed to avoid the negative consequences of uniformity of society. Thus, the ambiguity of the commonwealth’s appeal to people will be in discussion due to differences and continuous changes in countries that pursue the specific public policy.
Achten, Bouckaert, et al. A Truly Golden Handbook: The Scholarly Quest for Utopia. Leuven University Press, 2017.
Arfi, Ikram. “The Hermeneutic Dilemma in Thomas More’s Utopia.” International Journal of Humanities and Cultural Studies, vol. 2, no. 4, 2016, pp. 1212-1227, Web.
Corman, David. “Utopia and Contemporary Human Society: A Model for Sustainable Continuance.” The NCHC Journal of Undergraduate Research & Creative Activity, vol. 6, 2018, pp. 1-12, Web.
Hall, Sam. Shakespeare’s Folly: Philosophy, Humanism, Critical Theory. Routledge, 2016.
Mangeloja, Ovaska. “Sir Thomas More’s Utopia: An Overlooked Economic Classic.” Economic Affairs, vol. 39, no. 1, 2019, pp. 65-80, Web.
More, Thomas. Utopia. Edited by George M. Logan, Cambridge University Press, 2000.
Wilde, Lawrence. Thomas More’s Utopia: Arguing for Social Justice. Routledge, 2016.
Buddhist Teachings Allegory in “Monkey” by Lamport Essay (Critical Writing)
The Monkey is one of the masterpieces of literature that contains the ethics, morality, religion, and culture of the Eastern world. In the tales about Monkey and his companions, the reader can notice the features of such religions as Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism, on which all the stories are built. However, the principles of Buddhism are more often and more prominently displayed in the main characters of the story. Each of them represents the shortcomings that Buddhism considers as obstacles to enlightenment and the virtues that are necessary to achieve Nirvana. This combination of vices that Tripitaka, Monkey, Pigsy, and Sandy need to overcome on the path of enlightenment and their merits that coincide with Buddhist ideals proves that the Monkey is an allegory of Buddhism.
The monkey appears in the story in the first chapter and is one of the central characters in fairy tales. In the beginning, the reader sees Monkey as a self-confident, strong leader who rules the flock and wants to self-develop. However, he is led by selfish desires to become immortal, to learn magic, and to be better than others, which demonstrates his inconstancy and fussiness (Wu, 1942/2015). The monkey represents the mental side of Buddhism with these traits since according to Buddhism, a person must master and direct his or her mind towards harmony to achieve enlightenment (Keown, 2017). Besides, according to Buddhist teachings, a person must renounce everything cruel, and find peace in his or her soul (Keown, 2017). However, at the beginning of the story, the reader discovers that Monkey kills the Six Robbers. Later he sees and wants to join the fight with words: “I am going off to have a bit fun with the creature” (Wu, 1942/2015, 38). Thus, Monkey is an allegory of the mental state of a person in Buddhism and one of the vices that he or she must overcome to comprehend Nirvana.
At the same time, Monkey also symbolizes the concept of vacuum, which underlies Buddhist teachings. One of the names of Monkey is “Aware-of-Vacuity”, that is, a person who knows absolute harmony, renunciation of desires, and identity (Wu, 1942/2015). In Buddhism, this concept is also reflected in the idea of “no-self,” which means the emptiness and absence of “myself,” since it interferes with the merging with Nirvana (Keown, 2017). Therefore, the name of Monkey and its journey is an allegory of this concept. Besides, at the end of the story, the reader sees that Monkey managed to settle his mind, overcome vices, and achieve enlightenment (Wu, 1942/2015). Thus, this character contains an allegory to one of the spiritual principles of people in Buddhism, the development of which leads to the achievement of Nirvana.
Tripitaka is a monk who, in the past, was a disciple of the Buddha and was punished because of his disobedience. He is a pilgrim who goes his way in search of redemption and enlightenment, and he takes Monkey, Pigsy, and Sandy as his students (Wu, 1942/2015). He is the personification of the physical and material things that must be rejected to achieve Nirvana. Tripitaka is a monk, so he knows a lot of Buddhist teachings, and he does not forget to remind his companions. For him, the external observance of the rules is essential; however, he does not understand their deep meaning. Unlike Monkey, he renounces any violence, and it is easier for him to die than to fight his enemy. This fact is especially evident in the story of the battle of the Monkey with Six Robbers, whom he kills (Wu, 1942/2015). These Robbers are symbols of the six senses that a person must defeat to refuse desires and find enlightenment, according to Buddhism (Keown, 2017). However, Tripitaka accepts only the visible following of the rules, so he scolds Monkey for his act.
However, throughout the story, the reader can see Tripitaka’s empathy and compassion, as well as the progress he made. During the trip, he often assists his disciples with understanding and devotion, which helps him get rid of the physical dependence that prevented him at the beginning of the journey. As a result, he ultimately gets rid of the physical body to cross the river on the way to the Buddha Lands (Wu, 1942/2015). This denial of physical desires is also the basis for achieving enlightenment (Keown, 2017). Thus, the Tripitaka path is an allegory for the physical side, which Buddhists try to get rid of to comprehend Nirvana.
Pigsy and Sandy
Pigsy and Sandy, in this story, are the embodiment of vices that impede the attainment of enlightenment. Pigsy, who was punished for sexual misconduct towards the goddess in heaven, accidentally fell into the womb of a sow and now looks like a pig (Wu, 1942/2015). He embodies sins such as greed and gluttony, stealing, and sexual misconduct; however, at the same time, Pigsy is a vegetarian. Buddhism promotes the abandonment of the killing of animals and life in harmony with nature (Keown, 2017). For this reason, Sandy is the symbol of the opposite behavior; he kills all living beings, including humans, to eat their flesh (Wu, 1942/2015). Both characters are students of Tripitaka, who must go with him and fight with their evil virtues.
During the journey, Pigsy and Sandy gradually overcome their vices and purify karma with their actions. For example, Sandy creates a boat of nine skulls that he wears around his neck so that the pilgrims cross the river (Wu, 1942/2015). At the end of the journey, the reader feels that the characters changed and beat their bad habits, and although they have not yet reached enlightenment, they transformed into creatures of a higher level (Wu, 1942/2015). This fact coincides with Buddhist ideas about karma and reincarnation, according to which people reborn into their best or worst incarnation due to the actions of a past life (Keown, 2017). Thus, Pigsy and Sandy are an allegory of vices that interfere with the attainment of Nirvana and the successful path to their deliverance.
Therefore, the characters of the novel the Monkey are an allegory of Buddhist teachings since they embody the positive and negative qualities essential for achieving enlightenment. The adventures of the heroes symbolize the path that everyone walks on the way to understanding the truths of Buddhism and achieving complete harmony. Besides, such concepts as reincarnation, karma and the theory of “no-self” also coincide with the traditions and ideals of Buddhism. Thus, the main characters of the novel are an allegory of the basic principles of Buddhism, and their journey is a symbol of the search for enlightenment.
Keown, D. (2001). The Nature of Buddhist Ethics. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
Wu, C. (2015). Monkey: Journey to the West. (A. Waley, Trans.). Huddersfield, UK: Dalriada Books. (Original work published 1942).
Monkey Novel as an Allegory of Buddhist Teachings Essay (Critical Writing)
The work, Monkey is an informative text that gives a detailed analysis of the Chinese views, religious practices, and culture. Although this text focuses on the diverse philosophies and ideas associated with this society, it is evident that the novel emerges as an allegory of Buddhist teachings by detailing the major processes for being religious and achieving nirvana or enlightenment in this religion. The purpose of this paper is to explain why Monkey is an allegory of Buddhist teachings in the selected novel.
Reasons why Monkey is an Allegory of Buddhist Teachings
The original author of this book developed the targeted characters in such a way that they allegorized the Buddhist religious culture. There are several attributes and explanations from this book that support the notion that the text is an allegory of Buddhist teachings. To begin with, these characters in this book are required to take a long journey that is characterized by numerous challenges and obstacles. These include Monkey, Sandy, Tripitaka, and Pigsy.i The entire journey is comparable to the path that followers of Buddhism should go through if they are to attain nirvana or enlightenment. The reader also observed that Tripitaka is a representation of the physical outcomes and experiences that Buddhists have to experience or go through (Yu, 2006). At the same time, Monkey is an allegory or representation of the unseen or imaginable. This becomes a representation of the human psyche.
According to the law of karma, the actions of people who engage in sinful or wrongful acts against others will eventually evolve and result in misery. Individuals who engage in actions that have the potential to benefit others will eventually result in happiness. Most of the characters have accumulated bad karma throughout the journey. For example, the depicted monkey is seen to have caused disharmony in heaven while Tripitaka slept amid a lecture focusing on Buddhism. With such bad acts, Tripitaka is forced to go through 81 hardships (Wright, 2017). When they experience their hardships, the monkey retrieves the body of the dead king and eventually accumulates good karma. This kind of happening describes why Buddhists should do good to have their bad deeds forgiven or canceled.
The teachings of the Buddha encourage followers to support others through the use of compassion. Monkey and Tripitaka achieve this obligation by turning to Kuan-yin when they encounter the dragon-horse. This means that Buddhists are obliged to consider the attribute of compassion in an attempt to resolve emerging issues correctly. Similarly, the Middle Part is a critical concept taught to Buddhists. Amid their pilgrimage, the characters presented in the book endure unique suffering that remains hard to evade. For instance, the author writes: They had been traveling for many days in December, with its cold North winds (Wright, 2017). The pain associated with such weather conditions appears to allegorize the Middle Path in Buddhism.
Additionally, when the characters described in this book encounter different forms of suffering, it is agreeable that Tripitaka is always willing ready to identify his situation with those of others.ii This kind of depiction explains why it would be hard for the reader to distinguish the development of this story and the Middle Path. However, one who is aware of the teachings of Buddhism will be able to connect such teachings with this pilgrimage (Yu, 2006). This concept of the Middle Path described in Monkey becomes a starting point for those who are willing to have a clear understanding of Buddhism and its beliefs.
In the selected novel, the reader realizes that Tripitaka and monkey eventually become enlightened. This kind of occurrence resonates with the concept of Buddhist enlightenment. This is the case since Tripitaka eventually gets this new name: Candana-Punya Buddha (Wright, 2017). The text portrays a literal shedding of their physical bodies. It is also notable that Sandy, Pigsy, and the dragon-horse are eventually reincarnated at the end of the story, thereby being able to achieve high status. Although these characters do not achieve enlightenment, such kind of process appears as a form of reward for their good deeds along the way. The ending of this story is critical since it fulfills or supports the argument that the novel is an allegory directed at Buddhism.iii This happens to be the case since the entire journey and its conclusion described in the novel appears to echo the major teachings and ideas of this religion. The ending of the story is a clear representation of enlightenment whereby all those who do good and help others are eventually reincarnated or rewarded. It becomes a powerful guideline for people or believers who want to follow this religion and eventually realize higher states after the end of their lives.
Although the reader observes that Tripitaka was on a religious pilgrimage, the journey he undertakes gives a detailed analysis of the steps and practices that Buddhists should consider to attain enlightenment.iv The entire narration becomes a representation or portrayal of the unique physical hindrances and issues associated with the life of every Buddhist. The author succeeds in explaining why there is a need for Buddhists on the path towards enlightenment should beg for the most appropriate necessities and avoid any malpractice or violent behavior that can affect their goals. Tripitaka appears to follow such guidelines and scolds those who fail to consider them (Yu, 2006). It is because of this reason that he scolds the monkey for killing the robbers they encounter along the way. This means that Buddhist priests should always be ready to die instead of promoting violence or pursuing inappropriate behaviors.
The above discussion has answered the intended question successfully by explaining why Monkey is an allegory of Buddhism and its teachings. This is the case since the characters described in the novel have to go through a tedious and challenging journey that informs or reminds that about the issues that true believers have to go through before attaining nirvana or enlightenment. The end of the pilgrimage makes it possible for every reader to understand the requirements and practices that are essential for every Buddhist believer. In conclusion, Monkey is an informative novel that can present a detailed or subconscious understanding of this religion to any individual.
Yu, A. C. (2006). (Ed.). The monkey & the monk: An abridgement of the journey to the west. London, UK: The University of Chicago Press.
Wright, R. (2017). Why Buddhism is true: The science and philosophy of meditation and enlightenment. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
- Other names for these characters appear in different translations of the Monkey.
- The life of every Buddhist revolves around good karma and bad karma.
- Buddhists can go further to follow religious teachings by observing rituals, engaging in meditation, and following the teachings of Buddha (also known as merit).
- This kind of enlightenment resonates with the idea of nirvana.
Buddhism. Allegory in “The Monkey and the Monk” Essay
In The Monkey & the Monk: an Abridgment of the Journey to the West, the Monkey is one of the main protagonists of the book, as is apparent from its title. He is portrayed as a multifaceted, almost controversial figure. It seems to consist of incompatible qualities and traits of character, not easily found in one person. From his mysterious origins at the beginning of the plot to becoming Victorious Fighting Buddha at the end, the Monkey fascinates readers with his lively and rebellious nature.
He is always ready for a fight, has a zeal for longevity as well as devotion and physical strength. In the book preface, Yu explains that the narration is based on historical events that influenced the Buddhist culture in China for many centuries to come (x-xi). It is worth analyzing the plot to better understand what the figure of the Monkey represents in the book and how it reflects Buddhist teachings.
Everything that is connected to the Monkey is magical and divine – from his birth to his adventures to earthly transformations to his weapon, hair, and supernatural powers. It is not for nothing that the first seven chapters of the book are devoted to his life story (Yu 1-111). The Monkey comes from an immortal stone, the essences of Heaven and Earth. Upon his birth, he immediately attracts the Jade Emperor’s attention. With that, the Monkey’s epic journey through time, distance, and self-cultivation begins.
It is manifested in transformations of his body to almost any object he wishes, possibly hinting at his overall ability to adjust and reform, which is essential for the plot but in a spiritual sense. As the tale of the Monkey unfolds, readers see how his mind transforms. His name changes throughout the narration symbolize the protagonist’s evolution from the stone monkey to “Handsome Monkey King to Great Sage to Pilgrim” (Wang and Humblé 506). One of his other names is Sun Wukong, given by his first teacher, Subodhi. In it, the word “Wukong” means “awakened to emptiness”, and awakening is the underlying concept of Buddhism. Thus the name suggests the Monkey’s role in the narration.
In his first identity of a monstrous beast, the Monkey is depicted as wreaking havoc and causing uproar in Hell and the heavenly kingdom, constantly battling warriors and messengers of Jade Emperor. The Great Sage craves the most prestigious positions among the equals, and at the court of the Celestial Palace. He clings to his desires to rank higher in the hierarchy of immortals. Due to his vanity, the Monkey is incensed that in Heaven, he is ordered to tend to horses, rebels against guarding the Peach Garden, and is angry at not being invited to a banquet. For all the perceived insults, he takes his revenge in any way he can.
So the Great Sage is a sinner who is, at some point, punished for his deeds and needs to repent. His repentance is attending to Chen Xuanzang, a Tang monk, on a mission to bring to China Buddhist scriptures from India. The topics of atonement for one’s sins and of constant self-improvement are well within the Monkey’s path through the narration. There are plenty of faults in his behavior – pride, defiance, and arrogance, which can all be found in humans and which propel the cycle of suffering. The Great Sage’s following the monk and conversion to Buddhism look to be evidence of the fact that the Monkey epitomizes Buddhist teachings. The attraction of this religion and its values is such that even the animal, almost a monster, is imbued with Buddhist concepts.
In the book, a pursuit of immortality is indicative of the Monkey’s actions throughout his depiction before joining Xuanzang. The Monkey is afraid of death and does everything he can to prolong his life, usually in ways denounced by Heaven. From Subodhi the Monkey learns spells that bring eternal life. Then he wipes off his name from the book of mortals in Hell, goes on to eat peaches of immortality in the garden he has been ordered to look after, stealthily drinks the heavenly wine, and surreptitiously devours pills of longevity. These deeds are uncharacteristic of a Buddhist, but that of a transgressor, they lengthen the list of the Great Sage’s misdeeds, producing more bad karma for him.
The Monkey’s life story seems to correspond to some extent to the circle of rebirths postulated by Buddhism and fundamental to it. Every living creature goes through rebirth cycles until it is freed from them by reaching nirvana, the ultimate goal of a Buddhist. In Chapter Seven, the narrator describes how the Monkey, who has already proclaimed himself the Great Sage, is condemned to be killed for his multiple infractions in Heaven (Yu 97-111). Upon several unsuccessful attempts to execute the Monkey, he is being distilled into an elixir in a crucible for 49 days. Yet he survives and even gains more supernatural qualities than before, like recognizing evil. It appears this plot development demonstrates an attempt to show that the Monkey is going through at least one cycle of rebirths and getting closer to the path of enlightenment.
However, being reborn does not seem to liberate the Monkey from his vain cravings of glory and immortality. The Great Sage challenges the Buddha again – by betting, he can escape from the deity. The Monkey mistakes the latter’s five fingers for pillars at the end of Heaven and urinates on them. The punishment from the Buddha comes in the form of the Monkey’s imprisonment under a five-phase mountain for five centuries, which influenced the Great Sage profoundly. The recurring theme of the digit five appears to be connected to the idea of the Five Precepts in Buddhism to be observed for a virtuous life. Besides, the Monkey’s long captivity is probably a hint at asceticism, which lies at the core of much of Buddhist teachings.
When given a chance at freedom and redemption by Bodhisattva Guanyin, the Great Sage is impatient to be released, meet Xuanzang, also called Tripitaka, and join him to fulfill his mission. Now readers witness the second identity of the protagonist, and he appears to be thankful and devoted to his master, less arrogant than before. Upon accompanying the monk, the Monkey, now called Pilgrim, acts as his bodyguard because this priestly person is incapable of defending himself. With every good deed and thought Pilgrim improves his karma.
Still, the Monkey’s temper and behavior are controlled by the monk, with the help of a headband. Once the Great Sage is tricked into putting it on his head, he can not get rid of it till the journey ends. Tripitaka uses the band to cause pain if the Monkey misbehaves. Along the journey, the Monkey subdues and converts to Buddhism several pagan monsters who are after his master as they want to devour Xuanzang because his flesh is thought to give them eternal life and immense power. Wang and Humblé write that during the pilgrimage with his master, “Monkey accumulates his “fruits” and “merits” or “good stock” by converting the other monsters into Buddhists” (518). Due to his ability to see evil, Pilgrim can recognize the true nature of any demon whatever disguise it uses, thus helping Tripitaka to avoid dangers.
The scripture seeker, Pilgrim, and three more of the monk’s disciples are successful at their mission. The Monkey stays with the Tang monk through all of 81 misfortunes and disasters, cleansing karma along the way. After 16 years of traveling to the Land of the West and back, they deliver the Buddhist scriptures to China, bringing knowledge of the religion to the Land of the East where people were unenlightened and sinful. The Monkey’s reward for the arduous pilgrimage is that he achieves the condition of a Buddha – meaning he evolves from a mortal creature to the rank of deity.
To conclude, it can be said that the Monkey looks like an allegory of Buddhist teachings. Through the depiction of the Great Sage’s life before and after the quest to get the scriptures, the protagonist’s two different identities are juxtaposed, and he is shown as, first, an unruly challenger to heavenly creatures, seeker of great posts and a ruthless warrior. On the pilgrimage with Tripitaka, the Monkey walks the path of repentance and reaches Buddhahood by atoning for his sins.
The Monkey & the Monk: An Abridgment of the Journey to the West. Translated and edited by Anthony C. Yu, The University of Chicago Press, 2006.
Wang, Feng Robin, and Philippe Humblé. “Analysis of the Buddhist Conversion of Great Sage.” Chinese Semiotic Studies, vol. 14, no. 4, 2018, pp. 505-527.
Buddhist Allegories in “The Monkey and the Monk” Essay
Reading Chinese classics is always interesting, educative, and difficult at the same time. On the one hand, a reader gets an opportunity to learn one of the oldest cultures in the world with its beliefs and ideas. On the other hand, it is easy to be lost in an offered variety of adventures and allegories. Therefore, it is expected to choose one path and follow it through the course of reading. The Monkey and the Monk is a great Chinese novel that was created in the 16th century and translated and edited by Anthony C. Yu in the 2000s.
It is characterized by the presence of a true Chinese spirit of Buddhism and its valuable impact on human lives, traditions, and an understanding of history. The author mentions that the novel depicts changes in people and discusses them through the prism of “itinerant adventure, fantasy, humor, social and political satire, and serious allegory built on intricate religious syncretism” (Yu x). This essay aims to analyze The Monkey as a successful allegory of Buddhist teachings, where pilgrims travel and comprehend the worth of knowledge, cooperation, support, and power.
Main Ideas of the Story
Ancient China was not easy, and people continue improving their understanding of this culture. The Monkey and the Monk is not an ordinary story with a list of characters with the ability to develop particular relationships, grow in their specific ways, and demonstrate necessary lessons to the reader. There are 100 chapters that represent a journey that began when “Pan Gu broke up the nebula” and “humaneness supreme enfolding every life” (Yu 1). One of the main characters, Sun Wukong, a monkey, wanted to grasp the secrets of immortal life. Being exposed to the wind, “a stone egg about the size of a playing ball” transformed into a monkey “with fully developed features and limbs” (Yu 3). His transformation continues under the Five Phases with their challenges and opportunities, knowledge and doubts.
Tripitaka is another character whose traveling symbolizes the development and self-improvement through becoming a monk, desire to bring new standards to the damaged land, and the necessity to deal with personal demons and sins. Zhu Bajie, or Pigsy, Sha Wujing, or Sandy, and the Dragon-Horse are three other pilgrims in the journey that determine the influential qualities of people – greed (Pigsy), obedience (Sandy), and courage (Dragon).
In stressful situations, these heroes demonstrate their worst and best abilities to support, run, or betray. However, in total, the combination of loyalty to humans and respect for Buddha’s orders contributed to the successful completion of the mission (Wang and Xu 105). Each character got what he deserved, including Golden-Bodies Arhat (Sandy), nagi (Dragon), Janitor of the Altars (Pigsy), Buddha Victorious (the Monkey), and Buddha Candana (Tripitaka) (Yu 494). Multiple lessons about how to control personal behavior, how to respond to danger and external kindness, and how to live with sins and redemption were given between the lines of The Monkey and the Monk.
Allegory and Its Essence
In a variety of sources, the authors try to discuss the nature of the novel and its relation to Buddhism. One of the most common statements is that The Monkey and the Monk consists of perfectly developed supernatural adventures, humorous situations, and religious allegories (Wang and Xu 103). An allegory is a story the meaning of which may be hidden between the lines to promote moral or religious aspects in society. For example, when the Monkey King could not help but jumping joyfully to demonstrate his grateful salutation, the Patriarch made a decision to teach him and control his emotions (Yu 19).
On the one hand, this situation seems to be harsh and diminishing people’s intentions to follow their needs and desires. From another angle, the same lesson helps to recognize true intent, promote obedience, and explain the worth of following orders set by supreme powers. The allegory is hard to catch, but its impact remains critical for further development.
This literary device is frequently used by writers; however, its success is determined by the possibility of the reader to grasp the truth and achieve the goals set. The allegory of The Monkey and the Monk is represented in terms of three levels that are revealed through reading the novel, including the idea of adventure, karma, and self-cultivation (Yu as cited in Wang and Xu 103). This method does not only depict the nature of Buddhism but also helps to identify the difference between Chinese and Western religions and philosophies. Instead of focusing on the identification of good and evil aspects like it is inherent to the western regions, China remains under the impact of Indian traditions, where Buddhism enhances salvation and self-improvement.
Allegoric Examples of Buddhism in The Monkey and the Monk
One of the main distinctive features of The Monkey and the Monk is a combination of several stories and religions within one great novel. The goal is to prove that “to harmonize the Three Schools is a natural thing/One word’s elucidation in accord with truth/Leads to birthlessness and knowledge most profound” (Yu 20). The author touched upon a variety of aspects of three religions, including Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism. Despite the intention of this essay to focus on Buddhism teachings, none can diminish or neglect the role of other traditions and cultures in the story. There are many examples of how The Monkey becomes an allegory of Buddhist teachings, starting from the decision of Tripitaka to travel and ending with received honors and ranks.
The journey of the main characters remains the main evidence in the discussion of allegory in Buddhism. As soon as they decide to change something in their lives, people understand the need to improve and find out better virtues and values. Analyzing human actions, Tathāgata explained that “people neither honor the teachings of Buddha nor cultivate various karma; they neither revere the three lights nor respect the five grains” (Yu 457). As a result, it becomes hard to control humans with their negative qualities of “greed and killing, lust and lying” (Yu 457). Redemption turns out to be an internal part of their adventure, which leads to enlightenment and forgiveness.
There are multiple obstacles due to their karma that must be recognized and understood. The story underlines that “sinful karma is very deep”, and even the current redemption cannot promise a safe future and the avoidance of the same mistakes with time (Yu 126). Sometimes, it is easy to take a step, hurt someone’s feelings, and ask for forgiveness. Still, Buddhist teachings are not about forgiveness only but about the necessity to understand the worth of karma and behave respectfully.
At the same time, the strength of The Monkey and the Monk is the possibility to identify personal mistakes, think about the consequences, and share the lessons with other people. Each of the characters is never introduced as a perfect man with good intentions only. Their behaviors during teachings, uncontrollable powers, and unexplainable superiority over ordinary people took place and determined who they were. With time, new knowledge and explanations felt in their minds, and they changed.
Tripitaka got a better understanding of what it means to behave with circumspection, “don’t even enter a house without permission”, “wait until someone comes out”, and “request lodging politely (Yu 292). Such simple rules introduce the whole of idea of Buddhist teachings because this faith cannot be imposed or order. It has to be voluntarily accepted and developed in human minds and souls.
In general, it is correct to consider The Monkey and the Monk as an allegory to Buddhist teachings due to a number of urgent themes raised by the author. A life-long journey, an understanding of karma, redemption, and enlightenment are the critical elements in human development. It is not enough to know the rules and follow the standards in order to become a religious and cultural person.
The examples of Tripitaka, the Monkey King, Pigsy, Sandy, and the Dragon Horse as the main five pilgrims whose concerns, decisions, and purposes explain a true worth of Buddhism with its strong demands and expectations. As well as a journey, Buddhism is unpredictable for people who do not know the details but try to take as much as possible from it. The Monkey and the Monk can be a good guide for those who come to the conclusion that enlightenment is the goal to be reached to fulfill life with memorable events and lessons.
Wang, Richard G., and Dongfeng Xu. “Three Decades’ Reworking on the Monk, the Monkey, and the Fiction of Allegory.” The Journal of Religion, vol. 96, no. 1, 2016, pp. 102–121.
Yu, Anthony C, editor and translator. The Monkey and the Monk: An Abridgment of the Journey to the West. The University of Chicago Press, 2006.
“The Decline of the West” by Oswald Spengler Essay
The Decline of the West is a two-volume work written in the first half of the 20th century by a German historian, Oswald Spengler. The work is truly unique as the author used it as a tool for declining the view of the history of Western civilizations. He makes essential points highlighting the idea that history should be considered from the prospects of various cultures rather than epochs. In this report, the summary of the book, as well as the main ideas made by Spengler, will be presented. The conclusion will summarize the primary points of the essay.
The Decline of the West represents a philosophical discussion of Western understanding of history and introduces new ideas that contradict some Eurocentric views of history. As it was mentioned above, the primary idea of the author is that history should be reviewed not in terms of time but in terms of cultures. Spengler reveals eight primary civilizations, such as Babylonian, Egyptian, Chinese, Indian, Greek and Roman, Arabian, Western, and Mexican. The author calls his work a “morphology of history,” demonstrating that each culture should be considered separately due to the numerous differences between them (Spengler 49).
Therefore, all of these cultures are described independently in the frames of the work. Also, Spengler conducts a comparative analysis of the civilizations and their primary elements, revealing their similarities and differences. Thus, the historian identifies common features of humans and asserts that men of Babylonian, the Egyptian, the Indian, the Chinese, and Roman civilizations tend to be strong-minded and non-metaphysical (Spengler 50). It is fair to note that even though all the cultures are discussed, the author focuses mostly on Greek and Roman, Arabian, and Western civilizations.
However, according to Spengler, there is no culture that can be called dominant. The purpose of the work is to understand the civilizations rather than find a superior one. Each culture is examined in terms of its stages of development, such as birth, time of prosperity, degradation, and death. Although the terms “culture” and “civilization” are often used interchangeably, Spengler utilizes the word “culture’ describing the time of prosperity of objects and the word “civilization,” discussing its collapse.
The main difference between Spengler’s and Western history is that Eurocentric works revolve around facts rather than abstract propositions, as in The Decline of the West. Another difference is that Spengler expresses his pessimism talking about the history and future of human beings, while Western historians are famous for their enthusiasm and optimistic attitude.
It can be concluded that the purpose of Spengler’s work is to examine history in a way that is different from the traditional Eurocentric approach. The author focuses on cultures and civilizations, revealing their primary peculiarities and features. Spengler rejects the ideas of Western history, concentrating on abstract concepts rather than facts. Moreover, Spengler’s tone of the narrative is quite pessimistic, unlike the optimistic style of writing of Western scholars.
In general, The Decline of the West is unique writing that helps readers to look at world history from another, unfamiliar and unusual angle. It explains the interest of the world community in the book, which is still popular almost a century after its first publication. Therefore, the work can be recommended for reading not only to historians or philosophers but also to those who want to understand global cultures and key historical events.
Spengler, Oswald. The Decline of the West: Volumes 1& 2. Random Shack, 2016.
Human Condition in Cannery Row Research Paper
Although all humans differ in their character, appearance, and perception of the world around them, several distinct characteristics that can be observed in all individuals exist. The novel Cannery Row by John Steinbeck portrays the various depictions of human life through the stories of its main characters – Doc, Mack, and others. In his work, Steinbeck represents his view of the human condition issue, which revolves around the unique and standard features of life that all people experience. Cannery Row presents a unique depiction of the human condition from a variety of perspectives using characters with different backgrounds and life journeys.
The Characters of Cannery Row
The people portrayed by Steinbeck differ significantly in their occupation and life attitudes. Thus, the town of Cannery Row is inhabited with people of different backgrounds, both wealth and poor. For instance, Mack and his friends struggle due to unemployment and live in a fish meal shack (Steinbeck 3). As opposed to them, Steinbeck introduces Doc, who is intelligent and fully occupied with his work in biology or Lee Chong who sells groceries to locals. Steinbeck himself describes his characters as everybody, which means that the novel aims to describe all kinds of individuals and their issues (1).
Despite these differences, the unity of experience and struggles is illustrated at the end of the novel when Doc recites a poem that makes everyone think about their past. This enables one to understand the human condition that is the center of this work from a variety of different perspectives.
Firstly, it is necessary to identify the specifics of the human condition concept that would help one determine its portrayal in Cannery Row. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as “part of being a person” (par. 1). Thus, everything that characterizes one as a human being can be considered a characteristic of the human condition. This component is an essential part of literature because through its portrayal authors such as Steinbeck show the readers the variety of challenges and experiences that people have. Due to the fact that Cannery Row tells a story of different characters with a range of aspirations it can be argued that Steinbeck showcases various aspects of the human condition in his work by using examples of different people.
From one perspective, the human condition can be considered as a general feature of individuals, regardless of their gender, age, or occupation. Steinbeck describes the inhabitants in the following manner – “as the man once said, ‘whores, pimps, gamblers, and sons of bitches” (1). This characteristic provides an understanding that the novel focuses on ordinary people from different backgrounds. Thus, the events described in the novel are a representation of life that each individual can experience.
It can be argued that this novel illustrates how people choose to focus on things they cannot have. Additionally, the complex nature of human beings often leads to destructive consequences. Steinbeck writes that “men in fear and hunger destroy their stomachs in the fight to secure certain food, where men hungering for love destroy everything lovable about them” (6). Despite this, Cannery Row depicts the contrast of the warm-hearted nature of the inhabitants and the challenging environment around them.
For instance, the boy who gets institutionalized after an attempt to steal a gift because of his learning difficulties and past criminal history (Steinbeck 50). On the one hand, he has good intentions and factors such as poverty and inability to study obstruct him from achieving success, while on the other his actions are against the law. Thus, the troubled character of the town’s inhabitants is a portrayal of human nature with a variety of different characteristics.
Additionally, the important element that illustrates the main idea of Steinbeck’s work is the final chapter that ends with a poem Black Marigolds by Glenn Vanderburg. This poem causes a disruption at the final party because everyone listens to it carefully. This is because each character can relate to the words. Cengage Learning Gale argues that this is because Cannery Row’s inhabitants are a combination of inner conflict due to troubles that they experience and social harmony (10). Thus, all the inhabitants can understand the words of the poem because it describes their lives and human nature.
The main plot of the story revolves around the desire of Mack and others to arrange a party for Doc as a way to thank him for his kindness. The appreciation and dedication shown by Mack’s character are impressive, considering the overall poverty and struggles that he experiences. In his article, Correll argues that despite the general approach of biographical analysis that is applied to the character of Doc it is more accurate to “connect the town’s celebrations for Doc with forms of worship” (Correll 2).
In this manner, the illustration of the efforts it took to create the first party and failure, that followed due to the fact that Doc was not able to attend, can be reviewed as a general depiction of human nature. In this regard, it can be argued that in Steinbeck’s work failure is depicted as part of life and common feature among all people.
In general, the novel portrays the different aspects of happiness in varying socio-economic conditions. Steinbeck states “what can it profit a man to gain the whole world and to come to his property with a gastric ulcer, a blown prostate, and bifocals?” (2). In this manner, the author describes the life choices of Mack and his friends as despite the fact that they do not have jobs and can be considered outcasts they can find their moments of happiness. Thus, in spite of the failure described above and the overall difficulty of life depicted in Cannery Row, the nature of human condition encourages Mack and others to continue.
Even though Doc was not present at the first party due to unforeseen life events and was met by a trashed house, he and Mack become closer after these occurrences. After this, these characters experience some unfortunate events such as influenza and the death of their friend. Regardless of these issues and past failure, Mack arranges a second party for Doc, this time it is a success. This provides an understanding of the overall attitudes and human connections and their importance to people in this town. Thus, the warm-hatred nature of the main characters in this novel helps them overcome difficulties and failure.
The economic struggles that people experience throughout their lives are also part of the human condition depicted in Cannery Row. The entire community described in the novel and the timeframe of this work, which is the Great Depression, imply that the main characters experience issues with money. Despite these issues, people in this town continue living their lives throwing parties for their friends and perusing their ambition.
Lancaster explores this theme by arguing that Cannery Row is an example of the social exchange theory (55). It is due to the lack of money in the community, which results in the need to search for other means of acquiring goods. For instance, the grocer Chong, who appears to be more wealthy than others, allows purchasing food using credit (Steinbeck 10). This component illustrates both the struggles of the people as part of the human condition and the need to adapt to the community.
Another example of this issue is the character of Mack and his friends. All of them are unemployed; they are skillful and full of enthusiasm. This is reflected in their desire to arrange a party for another character – Doc. The underlying reason for this is a wish to do something good for a person that was kind to Mack and others, which is noble. An interesting aspect here is that neither Mack nor others have money to purchase supplies or food (Steinbeck 7). Thus, an interesting viewpoint of human nature portrayed in Cannery Row is the strive to achieve something despite the difficulties presented in the external environment.
Based on the Cannery Row’s analysis presented above it can be argued that the author aims to provide an illustration of life that ordinary people live by showing their feelings. Despite the fact that the plot is complicated due to the variety of characters described, it is evident that the author aims to portray human life from different perspectives. Thus, people go through different struggles when living their lives.
The fact that the author chooses to depict issues such as violence or suicide proves that Steinbeck was determined to illustrate the truth about life. Thus, despite the difficulties that Mack, his friends, Doc, and others encounter they continue living their lives.
The meaning of community and human interaction is an essential implication of Cannery Row. The ending of the novel is marked by the words from Black Marigolds poem – “I know that I have savored the hot taste of life” (qtd. in Steinbeck 190). This work tells the story of a man who nostalgically reflects on his life and remembers his loved one. This correlates with the events depicted in the novel because people in the town of Cannery Row coexist and help each other, which is an integral part of life. The unhappy tone of the books ending provides readers with implications for further reflection on the prospects of existence for Doc and others.
Overall, in his work Cannery Row, Steinbeck explores a variety of themes that depict human condition, such as poverty, failure, community life. Due to the fact that the author uses a large number of characters in his novel, it is possible to explore the different perceptions of the experiences that these people have. The specific timeframe as the setting of the events depicts poverty of the inhabitants and their approaches to overcoming it, which helps understand human nature. Despite this, people in the novel coexist, interact, help each other, which showcases the critical component of the human condition.
Cengage Learning Gale. A Study Guide for John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row. Cengage Learning, 2017.
Correll, Michelle. “Scientist God Sacrifices Savior to the System: The Divine Implications of Failure in Cannery Row.” Department of English Capstone Abstracts. Web.
Lancaster, Billy Joe. “The Inverted Economy of Steinbeck’s Cannery Row Ecology.” The Steinbeck Review, vol. 12, vo. 1, 2015, pp. 52-65.
Steinbeck, John. Cannery Row. Editions for the Armed Services, Inc., 1945.
“The Human Condition” Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web.
Jordison, Sam. “Cannery Row May Be Sentimental But It Is Far From Shallow.” The Guardian, 2017. Web.
Penn, Briony. “Book Review: Ed Ricketts from Cannery Row to Sitka, Alaska.” Hakari Magazine. Web.
Ritual Performance and Cosmology in the Rig Veda Essay
The Rig Veda is the holy book of Indian Aryans, which was written during the conquest of India. It was a time of the emergence of “forest universities,” in which the beginnings of Indian spirituality and mysticism developed (Smith, 2019). By the time Buddhism arose, all Vedic literature, including Brahmins and Upanishads, already existed. According to the theory of Brahmanism, Vedas are still considered the most important scriptures in India. Thus, this paper discusses the interaction of human and the environment in a broad sense of the word: biological, geographical, and social.
Despite differences in the interpretation of features text as a whole, the data remained of the most ancient Indian religious texts allows restoring some elements of mythology and cosmology of the Vedic Indians. Initially, there was “Something One” (tad-ekam), which has a single attribute – integrity, indivisibility (Smith, 2019). The basis of being implies something impersonal, in which there is no division into existing and non-existing. Orientalist Giuseppe Tucci described it in its full vitality the complex dual nature of disintegration and reintegration: “It is, above all, a map of the cosmos. It is the whole universe in its essential plan, in its process of emanation and of re-absorption” (Singh, 2017 p.10). Hence, Rig Veda introduced the first idea of these cosmic connections, concerning the tertiary segregation of the world into “earth, atmosphere and heaven, created by three appropriate words, the sounds produced by Vac, the sacred word – “bhu, bhuvah, svah” (Tucci 1968: 116). The earthly world was also seen as a kingdom of differences arising from the division of an original whole into two parts; the existing-non-existing, death-immortality, day – night.
Then an idea is formed of a particular “abstract deity” who creates all that exists; he is called differently (Visvakarman, Prajapati) (Smith, 2019). It is devoid of any attributes or anthropomorphic features and is formless, not having a visible appearance, foundation that underlies all things (Halbfass, 2017). Deities create elements and ideas combining male and female principles from which the world is born. At the same time, the mystery of an appearing world remains unsolved. In one of the hymns to convey a sense of uncertainty and doubt, the image of a particular universal “overseer” (Adhyaksha, demiurge) is drawn (Rig Veda 10:129). Endowed with a higher vision, examining cosmic panorama, the Adhyaksha could answer all questions posed in the hymns. This god represents the initial source of creation of the world and he knows how everything began. However, there is a mystery behind this creation of the world since Adhyaksha is the one who can know but also might not know.
There is a common belief of Hindus about the sacred tree called Ashvatha in Vedic literature, the pipal. It serves as the combination of three conditions of universe in the image of the flower, where roots represent the creation, main stamen represents existence, and the tips represent involution (Singh 2017). Altogether, it is the embodiment of the cosmos in the ancient texts that praises the “tree of life”. The “world tree” was a symbol of everything that exists. Many cosmogonic representations in Samhita are associated with the concept of the “first germ” (sansk pratham garbha) – the golden egg (brahmanda) (Smith, 2019). That brahmanda occurs in the pristine ocean and in which the gods and prototypes of all creatures are enclosed. The image of the “primordial” egg in the waters is found in the cosmogonic myths of various nations. In Vedic India, however, the image of the cosmic egg (golden embryo) has a unique interpretation in terms of the Indian cultural traditions (Samitharathana, 2019). Of all the cosmogonic ideas of the Rig Veda, this probably had the most significant influence on the further development of Vedic thought.
The Brahmanas paint a complex picture of emergence and formation world as a result of the division of the “golden embryo” into two hemispheres, one of which became the sky and the other the Earth (Halbfass, 2017). This scheme, with well-known modifications, is later found in the most important Hindu texts, especially in the cosmogonic parts of the Puranas. One of the hymns of the Rig Veda – “Purushasukta,” gives another cosmogonic answer. It describes the cosmic giant Purusha, whom the priests sacrificed (Smith, 2019). Purusha Prajapati is the cosmogonic portrayal of the dissolution and restoration; he is the first human depicted through three vertical levels of Indian cosmos, namely earth, atmosphere and heaven (Shatpatha Brahmana 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52-6). From the parts of his body, deities were born Earth and sky, sun and moon, plants, animals, people, ritual objects, and hymns themselves.
The theme of the creative world from the body of the primordial first man of Guyard is present in the mythology of many nations, particularly in the Persian Avesta (Samitharathana, 2019). There described, who is the embryo for the Earth, acting here as an egg of a Higher Being. However, the Rig Veda omits the meaning-forming details, in contrast to the Avesta. Overall, the Purusha, although it assumes an anthropomorphic image, appears more like an infinite source of creation than a deity (Singh, 2017). It represents the embodiment of the whole universe – elements and creatures.
The actions of people and gods are a manifestation of Purusha’s comprehensive activity. The image of Purusha firmly entered into the later religious and philosophical systems, but in them he completely lost any anthropomorphic features, turning into an abstract symbol of the original substance (Smith, 2019). The idea of ”cosmic sacrifice” also survived the Vedic time (Smith, 2019). Not only during the Upanishads but also in the Hindu era, sacrifice, in comparison with other sacred actions, has a special place, it is directly connected with the process of peacemaking. Upanishads say in bold terms: “Seek not to favor from any such divinity; reality is not the divinity which you are worshipping – nedam yad idam upasate; the guardian of order isn’t outside … (Samitharathana, 2019 p.10). The source of the first world was also considered to be “cosmic heat,” or tapas, which concerns the various phases of the sun’s heat (Chapter II.C-1, 2, 3, and 11 in RV). Besides, there is no distinction between the cosmic heat and earthly heat of the ritual (fire) and of the human body; the rituals are the linkage of the world and the human being.
The passage is significant for understanding later religious and philosophical views. Already in the Brahmans, tapas, identified with the tension will of an ascetic in yoga contemplation, are considered as the main active principles in the process of peacemaking. In the hymns of the Rig Veda, tapas are the embodiment of the original impersonal energy, which stimulates all life processes (Halbfass, 2017). Tapas designated heat created by ritual activity and by physical mortification of the body. From tapas, desire is born (sansk kama). The parallel can be traced with Buddhist interpretation of the role hope in the global cycle: ideas about things arise from desire as the initial impulse of being.
Vedic cosmology offers various answers to the crucial question of the origin of the world. Along with the abstract deity-personification of the creation process itself, this is the first germ (Sansk. Brahmanda, Hiranya Garbha), and the sacrificed primary being Purusha, as well as the “cosmic heat” (sansk tapas) (Samitharathana, 2019). The fact that many of the cosmogonic hymns are clothed in the form of questions goes far beyond than being a literary device. The authors admit them: there can be many answers; the truth is unknown even to the gods, the picture of the life of the universe is unclear and confusing to unravel (Smith, 2019). The cosmology of the Rig Veda era tried to single out the general principle the structure of the world, which would explain individual phenomena and their interconnections.
Moreover, it is essential to examine the meaning of the term “Rita”, as this concept, also used in Avesta, revealed Samhita as the fundamental basis of the world and the theoretical basis of operating laws. Rita speaks for the cosmic and physical order of the Universe. It was identified with Sathya (truth, truthfulness, honesty), which included the ethical standards of Vedic society: fidelity to duty, courage, and hard work. The moral aspect of Rita is expressed very clearly here; it is even stated that “thinking about Rita destroys sins” (Singh, 2017). Compliance with its “laws” is equivalent to doing good deeds, abstaining from lies, and hypocrisy. Thanks to Rita, the sun moves around the ecliptic, the seasons change, light scatters the darkness of the night. The most common definition for it is “The Way of the Sun” (Halbfass, 2017). Based on Vedic religion, it was necessary to properly perform the sacrifices to gods for its continuance. Once the established order is broken, it was considered a sin and required careful atonement.
Rita is the source of the triumph of righteous behavior, a symbol of universal orderliness and harmony. It embodies not only light but also the productive power of nature. The Vedic worldview was permeated with the idea of an inextricable connection of processes in the environment with the cycle sacrificial actions. The power of Rita extends to the gods; the fulfillment of its norms is mandatory for them. Varuna and his constant companion Mithra protect all life with the help of Dharma, which is associated with Rita here (Smith, 2019). One of the book’s hymns says that another deity (Agni), as it were, becomes Varuna if it acts as its guardian. The same subordination of people and celestials to a single universal, impersonal force is the essential idea of the Vedic worldview.
In conclusion, the central system of the Rig Veda is that method of views, which was called the mythopoetic model of the world. The nature in it is presented not as a result of processing the primary data by the sensory organs, but as a result of their secondary transcoding using sign systems. The primary way to interpret the world in this system is a myth. This thinking is based on cosmological schemes, which correlate with events and phenomena of the actual world, construed as a reproduction of a precedent. Thus, the myth is not only a message about the distant past that passes through generations: from ancestors to contemporaries of this era and from the future to their descendants. This sowing continuity concept is essential for the Vedic belief system.
Halbfass, W. (2017). The Idea of the Veda and the Identity of Hinduism. In defining hinduism. New York: NY, Routledge.
Samitharathana, W. (2019). A contrasted philosophical approach to Rig Veda & Upanishads in Indian thought. Journal of International Buddhist Studies College (JIBSC), 5(1), 1-15.
Singh, R. P. (2017). Appraising the Indian cultural landscape: Envisioning ecological cosmology in the 21st century. North Eastern Geographer, 3-30.
Smith, C. C. (2019). Adhiyajña: Towards a performance grammar of the vedas. Religions, 10(6), 2-20.
Voltaire’s Enlightenment Ideas in “Candide” Book Essay (Critical Writing)
The worldview of Voltaire was formed based on free-thinking at the beginning of the 18th century, which was hedonistic and anti-religious in nature. A negative attitude of the author to any official creeds was one of the consequences presented in Candide. This is a philosophical story that not only focuses on the depth of the issues raised at that time but also their critique. The main interest is the collision of two different philosophies, the bearers of which Voltaire makes two characters —Pangloss and Martin. They appear in the story as the teachers of Candide and express two points of view on the world. Pangloss is optimistic in the assessment of what is happening, while Martin, on the contrary, adheres to pessimism and insists on recognizing the eternal imperfection of the world in which evil reigns.
These points of view on life in Voltaire’s story seem to summarize the development of philosophical thought in the 18th century. In the statements of Pangloss, the philosophy of the German scientist Leibnitz, who was popular at that time, appears in a generalized form. Pangloss notes that pre-established harmony is the most beautiful thing in the world, as well as the fullness of the universe and weightless matter (Cronk 42).
In the ideas of Martin, the echoes of skeptical sentiments of the Enlightenment can be identified. Voltaire examines these philosophies through the fate of Candide, who, based on his experience, is expected to decide which of his teachers is correct. Thus, Voltaire considers an empirical approach to solving philosophical questions, which demonstrates the prevalence of science over religion and pessimism over optimism as one of the key promoted ideas of the epoch.
Cronk, Nicholas. Voltaire: Candide. 3rd ed., Modern Library, 2016.