Free «Themes of the Past» UK Essay Sample

Themes of the Past


A writer once said that whoever controls the past controls the future. This quotation shows the relationship that exists between the past and the future by validating that being knowledgeable about the past helps people to have better control of the future. The saying also exemplifies present as an outcome of the past, and if people are unable to learn from the past result, there is no way they can have an effective control of the present and future. This paper provides thematic and literal analysis of the Agamemnon, The Inferno and Don Quixote. It also describes how each work exhibits cultural techniques, beliefs and concerns of its particular time.      


The main theme in Agamemnon is that of justice and revenge. Justice is executed to all those who contravene. No killer escapes justice as equity has been a long tradition of justice in Greece. The punishment is done to three cardinal sins: treachery to the guest, shedding of the kindred blood and blasphemy. In addition, justice achieved through vengeance is totally unacceptable, and excuses for just are under no circumstances credible to justify vengeance. Justice through transgression and blasphemous cruelty brings suffering to perpetrator. 

Literary devices have been used extensively in Agamemnon. Symbolism and imagery have been used. The most famous symbol is the net. A net is not just for fish in the play, but it symbolizes an evil wealth of clothing. Another image includes spider webs, entangling clothing and nets, which together create a similar image of Agamemnon’s demise inevitably closing in on him. Foreshadowing is another key literary device in the play. It manifests itself in different forms in the play including prophecies, bad omens and cries from the chorus. Although these signs and symbols are overlooked, they reflect the tragic downfall that appears at the end of the play (Bernard 35). 

There are cultural beliefs and concerns reflected in this text. People in Agamemnon have faith that the gods do care about what the mortals do, and that they actually strike the men down. They also believe that it does not happen because gods are jealous of their opulence and prosperity, but it is because their fathers have actually violated the human justice.  

The Inferno

The central theme in The Inferno is justice. Justice is not simply unusual and cruel punishment from God that is designed to provoke tremor and shock. The Inferno depicts God’s justice as stemming from God’s primeval love, and hence it is conditioned with love and compassion regardless of how difficult it might be to recognize. The concept of justice points out that the transgressors must face the consequences of their actions. Sinners are penalized according to the nature of their iniquities so that the penalty fits their crime. Some offenders accurately become the personification of their sins whilst others become the sufferers in the afterlife of their crime they have committed while living.   

Symbolism is one of the literal devices that have been used in this novel. For instance, Dante’s crisis and the journey through hell represent the man's moment of weakness and his descent into the wickedness. The dark woods and night symbolize the sins of a man while the path, which was lost by Dante, symbolizes the virtuous way of life (Bernard 48).  

The main cultural belief that has been embodied in this novel is that even though human wisdom is crucial in moving from the world on misery to the world of happiness, human wisdom is never enough in this essential transformation. Therefore, one needs to have an ultimate reliance on the divine wisdom.   

Don Quixote

The main theme in Don Quixote is the popular idea of chivalry and romance. The comical relationship between everyday life and gallantry illustrates how misguided these romantic notions are. Even though love is usually celebrated, the romantic ideals are usually sometimes mocked due to adoration of a woman that one has never seen. Equating personal worth and social class is explicitly seen as being noble. This is not the case, because the conservative idea of upper class people as being respectable and noble has always been attacked. The lower people in the social class normally have a philosophical cast of mind whilst the aristocrats are normally intellectually shallow.

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Symbolism is the literary device that has been used extensively in the text. For instance, horses have been used to symbolize the status and a class of worthiness. Noble men are seen to ride in horse carriages. In Don Quixote, the appearance of horses on the horizon symbolizes the coming of a new adventure. Inns appear extensively as a social place for people regardless of their social class. Inns symbolize greed and corruption, because most of the innkeepers are actually deceitful and schemers (Bernard 56).                      

There are several cultural and religious concerns that have been raised. For instance, Cervantes bitterly criticized the Spanish class structure because of the outmoded concepts of property and nobility that existed even as the education became widespread among the people of lower class. There has also been a belief that making right all the wrongs that have befallen the world could actually change the state of the world.

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All the three works analyzed above have a common thematic concept that the present has actually been determined by the past. This means that the future will largely be the outcome of present activity. For instance, social inequality in Don Quixote will have an impact on the future society. The concept of living in peace and harmony has also been emphasized in The Inferno as the source of happiness for humanity.


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