Eve and the Serpent

Within the Ackland Museum, there were various interesting collections. The one that called most to my attention was that of Eve and the Serpent (1988) by Rose Piper. The painting depicts the fall of man from the Bible in the eyes of the artist. There were various notable intertextual references between the original texts in which the painting was influenced by.

The story of the fall of man has to do with Satan (disguised as a deceitful serpent) approaching Eve (the first woman in existence) and convincing her to do wrong against God by disobeying the only rule set in place. In the painting, the serpent does not convey a deceitful or mischevious charater, but rather a more friendly and suductive personality. I derived this from the wink in which he sends miss’ Eve’s way, which is actually an appropriation recognized in the title of the art work from a well known American folk song named “Dem Bones.” So rather than pressuring, the snake is just more so coercive, not even carrying the apple in his mouth and handing it to Eve as many paintings convey. The original text relays that Eve chooses to pluck the apple from the tree on her own.

The detail and accuracy reenacted from the painting to the original story are quite interesting and amazing to see in the brought to life with vivid colors and even the incorporations of ideas from other work.

Frankenstein the book vs the film: Character and Personality

The story of Frankenstein written in 1818 by Mary Shelley and its reenactment in 1931 are two very distinct forms of the same idea. There are various differences in plot points, characterization, thematic points, and even the ending. The main difference that sticks out to me is the manner of how evil is instilled in an individual. The 1818 version addresses how social constructs can play into the character and the attitude of a person and the 1931 adaptation believes that personality is innate and predetermined. There are examples in both versions of the text supporting these differing views.

Within the text, there is an instance where Mary hints toward her understanding of how personality is developed. The Monster tried repeatedly to gain the love and care that he would give out to others. From when he was keeping the old man company to when he saved the young girl, he was attempting to display himself as a sympathetic person who would rather turn the cheek than do harm to anyone. Just because of his appearance, everyone discriminated against the Monster and had prejudices of him being a horrible creature, even his creator Victor. Around the point in which the Monster met his breaking point and killed Victor’s younger brother, he proclaimed “I am malicious because I am miserable. Am I not shunned and hated by all mankind?” (Shelley, 102) The Monster was mistreated and became filled with rage and anger due to others; they refused his kindness and met him with hate at every turn. The Monster was fed up with the lack of reciprocation and became sadistic and harmful due to how others treated him on a constant basis. Mary Shelley seemed to believe that personality and character are developed through one’s experience in society.

In contrast, the film depicted the acquirement of character and personality as a predetermined in each human. Scriptwriters portrayed this ideal is by explaining that the brain in which the Monster acquired would determine his intelligence and morals. The initial brain retrieved for the Monster was that of a normal person, which insinuates that normal people are already made with morals. When the normal brain is dropped, it is switched with a criminal one; Dr. Waldman earlier explained that there were physical differences between the brain of a normal person and a criminal. Waldman and the little girl are then murdered seemingly because of the evil brain put inside of the Monster. Therefore, the brain in which he was given determined his outcome rather than how he was treated in society. This comes clear as a point attempting to be made by the screenwriters when the Monster is not treated terribly because of his looks and kills a little girl attempting to be his friend.

Intentions and messages within different versions of the story can be easily seen by the manner in which similar overarching themes are portrayed. The ideology of Mary Shelley in 1818 clearly reflected how character is learned through social interactions, and the message carried through this novel. Creators involved in Frankenstein the movie reflected their beliefs of character being an innate quality that people have from the beginning. The stories were written in different scopes and took two different forms to reflect what the authors found as the most important message to convey to the audience.

Free Will vs. Fate

In the story of Robinson Crusoe, the young 19-year-old feels as if he is destined to sail the seas and become a rich businessman and navigator by doing so. Though Crusoe is warned multiple times to refrain from navigating the seas, he is adamant about doing so and claims that something insistently calls him back to the sea. At many times, Crusoe feels as if God himself has called him to the life of an adventurer, therefore he must do anything to become a successful sailor.  He even relates himself to Job from the Bible saying, “I might well say, now indeed, the latter End of Job was better than the Beginning” (Defoe, 239). This idea of Crusoe believing God wants him to pursue becoming a sailor, even though everything Crusoe does meet him with misfortune, bring up the argument of free will vs. fate. I see Crusoe as a selfish man who would rather indulge in being able to make his own choices rather than being led by God, choosing to do his own path and ignoring a fate in place for him.

At the beginning, where Crusoe asks of his mother and father for permission to leave his house to go adventure. When they refused to grant him permission, he decided to do his own thing relaying, “I consulted neither Father or Mother anymore, nor so much as sent them Word of it” (Defoe, 9) They told him that he that he should stay home and continue with the family business. Crusoe asked his mother if she would give him permission to pursue his dream. She specifically said, “she should not have so much hand in my destruction, and I should never have it to say, that my mother was willing when my father was not,” not giving him her blessing to adventure because she knew his father wouldn’t allow it (Defoe, 9). Not thinking twice about his parents disagreeing with his pursuit, Crusoe was swift in his disobeying his parent. His unhindered abandonment of the 4th commandment, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you,” was an example of how he chose free will rather than fate. Disobedience and other sin are done in free will, whereas honoring and respecting one’s parents would fall in with fate. His beginning as an adventurer was a result of sin, which God would be against.

Not too long after setting off on his first adventure, Crusoe became sick and the entire crew of his boat was met with an unforgiving storm. Afraid for his life, Crusoe promised God that if he kept him alive through this unforeseen catastrophe, he would go back home and apologize to his parents for being disobedient and remain home doing what he was supposed to. Once God seemingly came to save Crusoe, he completely abandoned the promise he had earlier made. Crusoe said, “… my fears and apprehensions of being swallowed up by the sea being forgotten, and the current of my former desires returned, I entirely forgot the vows and promises that I made in my distress” (Defoe, 10). Once again, Crusoe chooses to ignore fate. I see his being alive after praying to God to spare his life is more than a coincidence, and he chose to overlook the seeming answer to his prayers in his self-centered nature. Again, preferring to do things he sees value in rather than returning to his quite apparent calling.

There are various other instances within the book where Crusoe decides to follow his own decisions after using his “faith” or belief in God. Another example is when he was clearly outmanned by the natives he saw on the island and decided not to attack when they had not threatened him, using his Christian belief of not harming those who he has not been harmed by. But later on, had no problem attacking the Spanish men that reached his island because he had enough manpower, abandoning the Christian belief he had earlier put to effect. Crusoe’s misfortune in this novel is due to his selfishness and disregard of the suggested fate for his life. He suffered for various years due to this negligence and still didn’t turn away from his decisions. Crusoe eventually became prosperous but this was of his own doing when he could have had a comfortable life following his father’s occupation with little to no perceived hardship.