Sunday, December 2, 2007


Parable – a usually short fictitious story that illustrates a moral attitude or a religious principle.

“Rassalas” by Samual Johnson

It is a parable in the case that it is a short story with a simple theme: happiness. In the story, the characters of Rassalas, Nekayah, and Pekulah each leave the aptly named Happy Valley and embark on their own journey to find lasting happiness. They experiment with all sorts of lifestyle ranging from the merchant life, to the pastoral, to the hermit. And about 60 pages later, they discover through trial and error that happiness is not meant to long lasting (if it was, it wouldn’t be happiness). It is the process in trying to attain goals that one can find joy.

This story is an indicator of Neoclassical principles because it is not concerned with the individual characters. Rather, the development and description of the characters are forfeited to make way for the social commentary, a common occurrence in Neoclassical works. In this piece, the commentary deals with all those obsessed with material goods and believing that certain objects will be the key to their happiness, not realizing that happiness is brief.

Other works: "Oroonoko” by Aphra Behn.

This particular short story also sacrifices character development (making Oroonoko into an almost perfect God-like figure) to make way for social commentary. In this case, the theme is that of honor and the importance of upholding personal honor. This serves as a commentary against Christian and Britons who saw themselves as superior yet resorted to lying and trickery to achieve their means.

-Diep Tran, Section 1B

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