Term Paper: Economics and Happiness Isaac Singer

Pages: 4 (1419 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] Passion drives Singer's work in Satan in Goray, and to a much lesser degree within the Slave. In Satin in Goray, these passions are often sexual, but they also delve into passions of the lust for power, as seen in the false Messiah's drive for power. These passions are seen in the profusion of superstition, and the fanaticism of people's belief in the false Messiah. Passion is shown in the degree of anguish seen in the novel, and even in the butcher's passionate and bloody slaughter of animals. Within the Slave, passions are often more subdued, and seen in the driving need of Jacob to be with his love, Wanda. Further, this passion is reflected in the townspeople's cruel rejection of Wanda.

Religion is a common and overlying theme in both Satan and Goray and the Slave. In Satan in Goray religion is deeply entrenched with conflict, hysteria over the false Messiah, and deep superstition. The people of Goray expect the Messiah to come, and relieve them of their helpless suffering. The Slave deals with a more personal understanding of how religion affects the lives of one man (Jacob) and his family. In both novels, religion can cause a great deal of hurt. In the slave, religion causes the townspeople to reject Wanda, Jacob's wife, and leads them to live a lie, while in Satan in Goray religion becomes a cataclysmic force that destroys the lives of most of the desperate townspeople.

Both The Slave and Satan in Goray share the theme of Singer's revulsion of the slaughter of animals. In The Slave, Jacob is struck by the greed, cruelty and gluttony associated with hunting. Upon entering the Pilitzky's castle, he is astounded by the number of trophies of the hunt, weaponry, and nude statuary. Singer writes, "The very air of the castle smelled of violence, idolatry, and concupiscence." Through Jacob's eyes, we begin to see the slaughter of animals as bestial, cruel, and appalling.

Singer approaches the slaughter of animals in the same way within Satan in Goray. In Satan in Goray, Singer vividly describes the ritual slaughtering of animals in the town. The two slaughterers, Reb Zeydel, and Reb Gedaliya are efficient at their jobs and indifferent to the animal's suffering. The men do their work amid buckets of blood, and flopping and writing animals. The descriptions of slaughter are often graphic. Singer notes, "wings fluttered and beat, blood spurted, smearing faces and dresses," and the butchers are described as "dexterously stripping hides, tearing bodies open, and dragging out red satin lungs, half-empty stomachs, and intestines." Interestingly, Singer equates the slaughter as one of the men's ways of serving God.

Singer links the brutal slaughter of the animals to violence between humans within Satan in Goray. The slaughter of the animals by Reb Zeydel and Reb Gedaliaya are similar to the slaughter of humans in the novel. The villager's corrupt craving for meat is symbolic of larger corruption within the novel. Similarity, within the Slave, the Pilitzky's weaponry and trophies of the hunt are symbolic of their corruption.

Singer's novels Satan in Goray and The Slave both look at the role of religion on the lives of the peasant population in the seventeenth century. Satan in Goray is a close and impassioned look on the immediate effects of the appearance of the false messiah, while The Slave deals with many of the more personal repercussions years after the appearance of the false messiah. The Slave is a subtler look at the role of religion on an individual life, while Satan in Goray is a larger-than life portrayal of the affect of the appearance of the false messiah on an entire town that desperately wants to believe. Singer also condemns the slaughter of animals in both novels, and this slaughter becomes a symbol for corruption and mankind's often-unfathomable cruelty and brutality towards other men. In summary, both The Slave and Satan in Goray are worthwhile looks at the impact of religion on man.

Works Cited

Nobel Lectures. Isaac Bashevis Singer Biography. 08 December 2003. http://www.nobel.se/literature/laureates/1978/singer-bio.html

Singer, Isaac Bashevis. The Slave.

Singer, Isaac Bashevis. The Satan in… [END OF PREVIEW]

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