Essay, Research Paper: Bacchae


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The Bacchae represents an authentic interpretation that is full of temptation in
the natural world. I am going to compare the temptations of society that we as
individuals encounter everyday with the allure of nature in the Bacchae,
specifically focusing on temptation offered by Dionysos. Humans in a civilized
society have to make choices everyday resulting in their decisions whether they
have positive or negative contrasting effects in compilation to societies norms.
From the beginning of the Bacchae, Pentheus seems to be the only rational person
in the play. He does not give into his temptations to join the others to frolic
in the forest. He is however very intrigued by Dionysosís offering to join in
on the fun and festivities of nature. Pentheus had an original instinct when
confronted with the particular opportunity that Dionysos set before him. He was
to deny the temptations and go with his original instincts resulting in using
his rational thoughts. This meant that Pentheus had to put his transgressions
aside and look for the good in this situation. He could not omit his original
curiosity that he entailed from the stories of Dionysos and the first hand
accounts from citizens of Thebes that partook in the orgiastic feast in the
hills. Dionysos had a master plan to overtake Pentheusís senses from the very
beginning. I compare Dionysos to the serpent, or Devil that eventually bribed
Eve to do something she was strictly told not to do in the garden Eden. It took
some force on the serpentsí part but he eventually succeeded in this coercion
tactic. Instincts that are imparted in our values are not easily overcome. The
temptation is always there however to break the mold and lust after something
that seemed inconceivable when first confronted with the situation. Symbolic
interaction comes into play here. A symbolic meaning of morality is created by
Pentheus and in turn his own language is produced. Pentheus feels he should do
the right thing and deny Dionysosís temptation. The individual interprets a
valid response to this symbolic meaning of denial. Can Pentheus put his feelings
out of sight and out of mind? He cannot in the end of the play and it costs him
his life. Pentheus relied on cultural relativism when he judged Dionysos for
manipulating the citizens of Thebes. He judged Dionysosís motivation for this
act in the context of his own culture. Pentheus had original values that shaped
and created a framework for his original norms of society. In a sense Pentheus
created his own interpretation of a counterculture when he rejected the dominant
values of society on the basis of his own set of norms and values. He began to
feel that taking part and frolicking in the orgies in the woods was wrong.
Pentheus used his own interpretation of dramatology to justify his actions for
rejecting Dionysosís offers. He created his own artificial play, much like a
theatrical play. Pentheusís interpretation of the front stage was his outward
feeling of denial towards Dionysosís offerings of bliss in nature. His
backstage was his internal emotion of curiosity for what he could not see. He
could not let Dionysos know of these intense feelings at the beginning. Pentheus
also used props and other actions to portray his feelings of rejecting
Dionsosís advances and opportunities. By putting Dionysos in prison he
revealed that he did not want to back down, and was serious about keeping social
order in Thebes. But Pentheus in reality feels drawn into the evil plan that
Dionysos has conceived. Dionysos quotes ďYouíve fallen in love with my idea.
You canít wait. WhyĒ (87)? Pentheus replies, ďIíll see them drunk,
hopelessly drunk. It revolts me, butÖIÖĒ(87)? This passage explains the
theory that know matter how hard Pentheus wants to reject the idea of giving
into his human nature, he must. Pentheus is then transformed seemingly by
Dionysos as he is lured to take part in the festivities of the wild women in the
hills. Pentheus then used props to give himself artificial delight by hiding
behind womenís clothing when his curiosity got the best of him. In conclusion,
we all long for what we can not have in life. Itís a part of human nature to
thrive by our own personal morals and values, but also live by society norms.
Pentheus was tempted because of human nature, but he couldnít reveal his
feelings because of his pride. In the end his curiosity got the best of him. As
we read in the play, Pentheus climbed up a tree to finally see what he had been
rejecting to see all along. Thus the God of wine eventually got the best of him
after Pentheus revealed his vulnerability of his own human nature.
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