Zulaikha's Redemption

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After deciding to worship yusuf's god, zulaikha's life turned around. She managed to catch a glimpse of yusuf, meet him, have her beauty and youth returned, and ended up with the man of her dreams. However, her true turning point in this is when her looks are returned.

Were they really returned to her? Did yusuf posses this divine ability to produce what time had taken away from her? While Yusuf was affiliated to the divine, besides his dreams, he never really performed any physical miracles. I would like to question whether or not Zulaikha's looks were truly returned.

Could it be interpreted that she only wished to be beautiful in Yusuf's eyes? Or that she was beautiful in his eyes again, so that she could be with him? It is possible that because of her change in spirituality, yusuf found her more beautiful, or that in his words of prayer, he welcomed her into the religion and therefore was perceived as more beautiful. This would also explain why the angel Gabriel told Yusuf that he could finally marry her.

Tears

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Joseph, throughout the course of his three meetings with his long-estranged brothers, cries repeatedly. How are we to interpret these tears? Are they of sadness or joy, or do they have a deeper purpose?

The portrayal of tears increase in intensity each time. It begins with his mild weeping and ends with a bawl that all of the palace hears. A clue to the emotion behind the tears is Joseph's actions directly following the tears. First, he sends them off coldly, feasts with them the second and finally reveals his identity to them in the last. There is a parallel between the increasing intensity of each tearing scene and his actions against his growing affection for them and recognition of their repentance. As he cries with more force, he is growing closer to his family and moving one step closer towards eventual reunion.

This mirrors Odysseus, who also cries repeatedly in the Odyssey. He cries when the bard's song incites his reminiscence of the losses and tragedy of war, and also when he meets Telemachus again in a recognition scene. Just as in Genesis, tears do not seem to be a sign of weakness. Odysseus and Joseph do not cry when they are weak or upset, rather, the tears come when they are experiencing powerful positive emotion. Odysseus when he remembers his Greek brothers who died in the war or Joseph when he sees Benjamin is well and safe. Tears serve as a plot device, to indicate that there is character development or foreshadow future events. Joseph's tears increase as a build up towards the eventual recognition, and grow in intensity as the repentance of the brothers are proved through their words and actions until they prove themselves worthy.

Dreams

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In Genesis, Jacob wrestles with God, or an angel. Or was it a random person? When we talked about it in class we concluded that it could have been just a dream, since the "man" said, "let me go , for dawn is breaking." The dream world seems to be a sacred place, and like we talked about in class, it could be a way of God taking a backseat in the human world instead of talking to people directly like he did before.

What I would like to question is whether this was specific to Abraham's bloodline. In Genesis, we follow his bloodline and watch as they prosper and carry out God's will. However, the Baker, cup bearer and the Pharaoh all had divine dreams as well. Was this because they were to encounter Joseph that they had these dreams or would they have had it anyway?

What this made me question is whether, as a historical text, this was one of the recordings of what happened chronologically for this family, but did other people have devine dreams as well during this time period. Would this have happened for a few people or just the people who were in the bible because they were required to. It reminded me of the line mentioned in classalong the lines of what wasn't mentioned in the bible that makes it more interesting.

 

Bible Vs Jami

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Something that really intrigued me is the language of both Genesis and Yusuf and Zulaikha. The writing in Jami's version of the text struck me as a mix between Homer and Valmiki, being both poetic and descriptive as well as told by a sort of "visible" narrator who calls on a divine power. However, the language in genesis was much more vague and functional; the story was put across to make a point, no prominent details outside of the actual storyline.

Jami makes many interjections of comments within the story, sometimes coming to a few paragraphs, but we don't see any of this in the third person's narrative of Genesis. My question is: What is the difference that this makes? Why do the two texts have such different takes in terms of writing?

Both texts are religious texts, but both go about different ways in teaching. Genesis holds a very utilitarian form of writing; it tells, it teaches but it doesn't do more. Sometimes it even skips over a few years at a time. When describing Joseph's looks, the only thing the Bible Says "And joseph was comely in features and comley to look at." whereas Jami's text is constantly poetically and metaphorically describing Yusuf's features in lines such as " And there in the middle of the flock was Yusuf, like a brilliant sun in the sign of a ram".

I believe that that Joseph's story is linked to his family, and Genesis focuses on his bloodline, therefore it doesnt have to be as detailed as Yusuf and Zalaikah, which chooses to convey its passion to teach how dangerous indulging in adoration is when it is not in god.

2 Paragraphs

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For this essay, I have chosen to explore lines 451-476 of Book 21: Odysseus strings his bow. Penelope has agreed to take on the suitor who can string Odysseus’ bow. Telemachus and other suitors have tried to string the bow, but have all failed to do so. Here, Odysseus is stringing his own bow, still under the disguise of a beggar, and succeeds with ease. Homer uses an intricate simile, comparing the bow to a lyre. In this essay, I will explore the symbolism of the bow, and the use of its comparison to a lyre.

The bow is a symbol of many things. Here, it is a symbol of worth to claim Odysseus’ household, as he who can string the bow can claim Penelope as his bride. However, Penelope seems to have picked something that only Odysseus could have done. By showing this, Homer has not only highlight that the Penelope is longing for Odysseus, but also that none of the suitors can measure up to him. Even his son, Telemachus, is unable to string the bow, which shows that Telemachus is not yet ready to assume his father’s position as the man of the house.

Week 3 Essay Questions

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1) What about Rama is divine and what about him is more "human"?

2) How does Rama's answer to dying Vali Justify his actions, and how is it flawed?

3) Rama is supposed to be the human with the greatest dharma, so much so that he is treated as a god / reincarnation of Vishnu. What effect does it give that he must be persuaded into forgiving Sita?

Ravana; a Bad Guy or Just the Bad Guy?

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5) Ravana was regarded in the Ramayana as an evil king. He kidnapped Sita and attempted to kill Rama, but was instead killed himself. He is described as a merciless ruler who is greedy and  it is said that he was "ruthless and harsh, [and that] Ravana wished ill for all beings and the entire universe was terrified of him."

However was Valmiki biased in his tellings of the story? Or rather was the story itself biased towards Rama? For the purposes of this analysis, we will dismiss the descriptions Valmiki gives of Rama and only take the story itself into account. The descriptions are blatantly skewed to make Ravana appear evil because he is the antagonist of the story. Ravana kidnapped Sita because he lusted for her and sought to kill Rama because he was manipulated by Surpanakha to both be jealous and afraid of Rama and also to take revenge for the death of his people and the mutilation of his sister.

Rama, on the other hand, had killed Vali, who he had no fight with, and who was also in a duel with another monkey. He did not choose to challenge Vali to a duel, but with no reason to be a threat, he shot him from behind a tree instead. He stated his reason for killing Vali as Vali not being fit to be king. If Rama had felt this way, he could have challenged Vali to a duel, and if he had really been the greatest fighter, he could have defeated Vali anyway. Valmiki's writing quickly accepts this as the morally right action and the story moves on. If he truly believes this was the right thing, does he do so because he believes that the action was right, or because Rama had carried out this action?

Both Ravana and Rama act very strongly with their feelings in these situations while both committing to actions that are seen as wrong. However, Ravana's actions are viewed as evil while Rama's are good.

The question I pose is whether we view Ravana as evil and Rama as righteous because Valmiki chooses to have us perceive it this way. Also, just with the battle between Rama and Ravana and that between Sugriva and Vali, will we always see the winner's perspective and reasoning as the right one?

 

Kaikeyi Vs Judas; Predestined Evil?

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Kaikeyi plays a similar role to that of Judas Iscariot in the Bible's book of Luke. Both parties betray the "chosen one" of the religious narrative, yet without their treason, neither Rama or Jesus would have been able to fulfil their foreordination.

Kaikeyi was convinced by the hunchbacked servant Manthara that following Rama's coronation the king Dasaratha would throw her family aside and that she felt she had no choice but to rid the city of Rama. In Luke 22, it is stated that "3 Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve". In both cases, something overcame the betrayer into committing their offence to their protagonist. However, Judas' turning point can definitely be seen as more two dimensional and vague. We can not tell if his "possession" was a mental dilemma as well or if it was a literal possession by satan that drove him to betray Jesus. Kaikeyi's decision definitely seemed more humanistic and relatable and dwells in more of a grey area than the blatant statement of Judas' posession.

Without the betrayal by Kaikeyi, Rama would not have ventured out into the forest, and in turn would not have killed Ravana just as without that of Judas, Jesus would not have been crucified and therefore the gates of heaven would not have been opened. While they are regarded as villains in the texts, they are both necessary evils without whom "the chosen ones" would have failed their destined paths. This raises the questions; if Kaikeyi hadn't been convinced that Rama's ascension to the throne would be her doom, and if she had still supported Rama as King, would Ravana still have died and would Rama have accomplished less or maybe more spiritually? If Judas hadn't betrayed Jesus, would Jesus still have opened the gates to heaven? If not, then did Satan not play a part in helping to open the gates of heaven? Were these characters destined to be evil, or did they have the free will to decide? Or ultimately, if they were to be "good", would it have really have been good for anyone?