“The Bridge on the Drina” is a novel of many themes and motifs and historical facts. The author Ivo Andric really presents a viewpoint of terror, authority, and progress. The author definitely allows the reader to see what it is like to live in the time of the great Ottoman Empire and the significants of their way of living.
The theme of terror has been a prominent theme with every empire but it was definitely prominent in the Ottoman Empire and throughout this novel. Terrorism was used as a method of intimidating individuals or communities or a way to insure the people would behave in the way that the empire believed was the right way. Terrorism is not a modern invention and it serves a large role in this empire as well as the world we live in today. Ivo really shows the fear of the people when he talks of the Ottoman practice of requiring blood tribute from the conquered Christian subjects, and it is very clear that these people terrorize the people of Bosnia. During the building of the bridge. Abidaga was one of the people in charge he carried around a green staff which was a way of punishment for people trying to get out of work or who were not working hard enough, they would be beaten with the staff in order to get them to continue to work. These people were definitely abused and terrorized in order to complete a job and to work their hardest at all times. Much like the Egyptians did with their slaves the Ottoman Empire used them to build large monuments or in this case a bridge. Abidaga later also even terrorizes his security chief, he threatens to impale him if he fails within three days to capture the people who tried to overcome his rule and power. We learn that this man was a cruel person who uses force and violence to scare people into doing his bidding.
Authority is another large factor for this empire and a large them in this novel. The Bridge on the Drina examines various views of authority in the Balkans. The Ottoman view is one of strictly Islamic power that can only be given by God to faithful rulers. These rulers are required to subjugate and rule over non-believers in order to please their God. It is unthinkable that a Muslim should be subject to a non-believer, thus creating the idea that the Cristian people are less than and the fact that more often than not the slaves in the Ottoman Empire were Christian. The Ottomans suffered a slow decline in power, and the loss of Hungarian territory had and immediate effect on this. The funds dried up for the upkeep of the Stone Han and later crumbled. After that they are then faced with a revolt which threw the empire through a loop and they never recovered from it. Austro-Hungary occupied the region after this revolt. They put through decrees for the building of the bridge and then asking God to bless it and its founder. Later Muslims are left to wonder why God would allow the muslim rule to die out and allowing his, believers undergo live under infidel rule. This general wondering lead to an exodus across the retreating borders of the Ottoman Empire.
Lastly The notion of progress is shown in The Bridge on the Drina to be a Western concept that initially has little impact on a oriental town like Višegrad. The bridge, a great technological advancement in the 16th century, becomes an item of everyday life rather than being one of innovation and importance. Progress only became an issue for this town when the Austro-Hungary troops, business people, and bureaucrats came in to the picture. These people brought new ways of thinking and doing, new words, clothing, songs, and dances. There is a period in time that the old and new coexist, and each group adopts select items from each of the ways. Eventually the western ways win out on the streets and in society, but in people’s homes, the old ways are still surviving even at the end of the novel. Another thing that leads to the progress would be the adaptability of the Christian people they were more accepting of the ways of the west. The muslim people however believe that nothing is going to last unless God wants it to last, much like the bridge if God blesses it then it is crucial that you do not interfere with it in any way.
The novel “The Bridge on the Drina” There are many themes and descriptions on ways of life. They go through so much during this novel from the absolute fear of the people in power to the progress and take over of western civilization. We learn a large amount of the muslim culture and how they believe that the only person that can rule is the people who believe in God in the muslim religion. We also learn that even through all the progression and all the advantages during the rise of western civilization the people of the muslim culture still remain true to their roots they never gave up on their traditions no matter how old they may seem.