Monday, April 6, 2009

The Child of 'The Mother'

'Normal' and 'abnormal' are two highly controversial terms. It is difficult to distinguish the apt word for branding one, between the two, as right or as wrong.
When it seems to be difficult to discriminate the signified meaning of both these terms then that points to a fact that we neither know anything nor every thing but only something about what is 'normal' and what is 'abnormal'.

The behaviour of an individual or group that comes under the collective identity of the common behaviour of the social structure is termed most often as 'normal'. In a social context, abnormal is identified as a highly unacceptable behavioural pattern. So let us stick to such a norm that makes sensibility possible with the least of efforts.

In Paulo Coelho, this 'abnormality' and its attempts to gain legitimacy in a formal social set up can be seen recurrently. In the novel, “The Witch of Portobello”, this legitimacy is attempted through the presence of the child of Athena. Thus the protagonist, Athena, sticks to the notions of ‘motherhood’, in all of its socially accepted images. We can see, , the choices made by Athena, as an individual, were for her own enlightenment. Here, the presence of the boy child is a kind of connecting link between the woman, who pursues her 'mad' dreams,and her social existence as a humanbeing.

The concept of motherhood, which is attributed to Athena, is established through her child. Thus the character of Athena finds a co-relation with the concept of ‘Universal Mother’. Here Coelho presents the concept of the Female God or Mother God. In her quest for the spirituality, which the society sees as something not less than witchcraft, her existence does not owe a very significant correspondence with her son.

Coelho’s concept of female God finds its full expression here. This co-relation between the Mother God and Athena seems to be conditioned through the boy child in Athena’s life. Without a child she will not be a mother. Thus the child gives a legitimisation to the concept of motherhood in Athena’s individuality. Giving birth to a child is one of the archetypal concepts of elevating individuality through identifying ‘motherhood’, as some quality more significant; spiritually, mentally, and socially than being an ordinary woman. Here, Coelho uses this archetypal imagery to enable the comparison or co-relation of Athena with the Mother God.
Athena’s spiritual quest interacts with the society as an abnormal eccentricity. These interactions take the form of a political conspiracy against the existing norms, when it moves from an individual level to a mass level. When more and more people are attracted toward Athena, the environment around her residence becomes violent and the society accuses her with breaking rules of the existing religious order and witchcraft. This reaction from the society can be seen as a reaction toward the imbalance caused to the structural aspect of the society.This reaction owes for its violent nature, the concern over the mass participation in Athena’s rituals related with her spirituality.
The protests that Athena faces are evolved from a social consciousness, from a highly materialistic concept concerning the structure of the society and from the pre-constructed insistence on the order of the society. In other words, it can be read as Coelho’s way of bringing down the ‘abstract’ to the roots of material life. The intervention of spirituality in Athena’s socio-cultural interactions are identified as ‘abnormal’ by the society as per the existing norms or references.

The way in which Coelho undertakes the task of evolving Athena’s spirituality, which can be conceived as an abstract idea, is through connecting it with materialistic ‘concepts’. The first step in this attempt is what he did with the child.
Even at the time of chaos in her life it is, motherhood, being the mother of a child that wins her a little humanistic consideration from the so-called morality keepers. The existence of the child in Athena’s life makes her a mother, who can communicate with God- a God who endows the world with incomparable motherhood, and love.


Terri said...

Par.4 is it "trough" our is it "through"?

your review is interesting and
well written.

Have a fantastic week!

Anu Lal said...

I feel ashamed of this mistake. Actually the word I wanted to write is ‘through’. Even though after thorough checking, I wonder, how such a mistake remained. Sorry for your inconvenience. Have a happy week.

Terri said...

Nor worries...I'm the one that usually makes spelling errors. I just happened to see that one.

Anonymous said...

Interesting Anu. It's kind of like saying... just because everybody agrees on something it doesn't make it necessarily true, or vice versa.

Anu Lal said...

Yes, indeed, Carolena. I think, this is a process of reconciliation between what one really is and what the society wants one to be in his or her social environment, of which we all are a way.