The Use of History and Fantasy in The Passion by Jeanette Winterson

The idea of history and fantasy play a huge role in The Passion. Jeanette Winterson uses these two different genres to create this story. Patrick’s eye, Villanelle’s webbed feet, and Villanelle’s ‘stolen heart’ are some examples of the elements of fantasy seen in The Passion. Another book that deals with fantasy and reality is the Bible. The Judaeo—Christian Tradition by JIH. Hexter addresses these fantasy and realistic elements in his analysis of the Bible as a historical piece of literature. There are passages from different parts of the Bible that could be either interpreted literally or spiritually, which can create tension within the book. Winterson throws in an element of fantasy to promote a deeper analysis and understanding of the book, Patrick is said to have a powerful set of eyes, according to Henri. “During his stay he heard a story about a certain disgraced priest whose right eye was just like yours or mine, but whose left eye could put the best telescope to shame.”

To the reader, it sounds absurd that a person can have such eyes that possess more viewing power than the most powerful telescope How could someone possibly have such powerful eyes among everyone else? The problem with interpreting this literally is that it leads to a great confusion for the reader and negates any other possible explanation to this part of the book. In The Passion> however, the women do feel watched at night, seemingly confirming Patrick’s eagle eye. While the reader may look at this and see that Patrick does have an eagle eye, it‘s important to understand that these women never say what is watching them, but rather they know they’re being watched, Perhaps this could be a reference to how God is all—seeing and all-knowing, since there is mention in The Passion about the Virgin Mary; this shows that while there are fantasy elements in the many things we read, other people will address it as something that really occurred, regardless of how absurd it may sound.

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In the Bible, there are also seemingly impossible claims of how Isaiah sees the Messiah to be, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virginwill conceive and give birth to a son.” (Isaiah 7:14). Hexter gives us a historical representation of Jesus’s early life, “A young Jewish woman named Mary gave birth to a childmit seems that Jesus was born into a pious family, for he was well read, or at least well instructed, in the holy books of the Jews”. They may see this as a fantasy element of the Bible and will use a spiritual interpretation to better understand this, as a literal definition would negate the meaning of this passage. Hexter does not include the fact that Mary was a Virgin who gave birth to Jesus, as this negates the actual point one should get from the text about Jesus‘s early life. He goes on to discuss that Jesus was born into a religious family and became greatly educated throughout his childhood.

He doesn‘t mention any supernatural element about his early childhood, as according to him, none would apply According to Hexter, Jesus being born from Virgin Mary would be impossible and could not have occurred. Villanelle’s webbed feet are another key fantasy element of The Passion They prove to be a huge part of Villanelle overall, even when the midwife tries to cut them off. Although webbed feet are an actual medical condition, the myth behind it seems to suggest otherwise According to the myth of the webbed feet, a mother must bring certain items to a grave and beg for a clean heart for a girl and webbed feet for a boy The fact that Villanelle is a girl with webbed feet completely flips this myth upside down This part here reminded me of another element of fantasy displayed in the Bible, when Isaiah discusses how the Messiah will pull Israel away from Rome’s power and bring peace to Israeli “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.

The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper‘s nest, They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” The expectation of the Messiah is that there will be no more disputes among anyone, be it different species of animals or between animals and humans Everyone and everything will get along on this holy mountain and the Lord will guide those who please him, There will be no more wars and no more arguments because God would be protecting them Hexter verifies this part in the Bible: “Only Israel knew Him and His will, for only to Israel had He revealed Himself. He spoke through the voices of the prophets, in the destinies of peoples, and especially in the destiny of the Chosen People”. God chose the Israelites, seeing that they would be compliant to him and therefore, would be saved by the extreme Romans.

While this seems to drive to the point that Israel wants freedom from Rome, these expectations listed in the Bible are realistically impossible to achieve, alike how impossible it is for one to believe the boatman myth behind the webbed feet. Both passages demonstrate that a fantasy element makes the reader overlook the reality of the situation. While Villanelle does actually have webbed feet, it is uncertain whether it is a cause of a genetic history or this myth. There is an instance in The Passion where Villanelle is walking on the water. ”I tried balancing my foot on the surface and it dropped beneath into the cold nothingness”. She is attempting to walk on the water, while also questioning if she could love a woman, the Queen of Spades, for more than one night. It seems to make fun of when Jesus walked on the water, showing this as clearly impossible to do by anyone. “Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.“

They were stunned to see Jesus walk across the river and thought of him as a ghost, One of them even believed him to be the son of God. “But Jesus’ followers did not fully agree on the meaning of these words, deeds, and sufferings (and there never has been full agreement since). They believed that the spirit of their Lord had been sent down to them to guide them during the absence of the Master, They lived in a sort of spiritual halfway house…Since they did not accept the whole Law, they could not fully take part in the life of the Jewish community.“ Hexter addresses this as one of the problems of Jesus’s followers. These followers were not greatly educated like Jesus was and did not seem to grasp a quick understanding to what he preached to them. They was, and still is, much dispute over what was said by Jesus. Hexter addresses this complexity among his followers as one of the Bible’s greatest confusions between a literal and spiritual definition, like The Passion.

Villanelle is said to have had her heart stolen by the Queen of Spades, otherwise the woman whom Villanelle had an affair with at the Casino. When she tells Henri about this, Henri assumes that there was no conversation between the two and that it was figurative instead. He tells Villanelle, “Villanelle, you’d be dead if you had no heart. When Henri puts his hand on her hand, to his amazement, he hears no heartbeat With Villanelle’s instructions, he runs off to the sixth floor of the woman’s mansion to retrieve this heart in a jar for Villanelle. “Then she began to make terrible swallowing and choking noisesi” (Winterson 120). Henri feels for her heartbeat and confirms that she has one. Whether this is a reality or fantasy has gotten me puzzled There are all sorts of symbolism in the Bible, like the description of the kingdom that the Messiah is said to make, “Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.

He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and foreveri The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.”The Messiah is expected to build a kingdom in Israel that will stand forever and will never succumb to any other power. Whether this is a literal kingdom or a symbolic kingdom is subject to question, alike how Villanelle suddenly gained a heartbeat after swallowing her ‘hearti’ This could be an actual heart or a spiritual heart that she took in. “The message Jesus preached> going past the letter of the law, which ordinary men could not keep, to its spirit, profoundly moved many of the simply folkr,.they were moved by his character, his attractive personality.”The main problem with the passage from The Passion and the passage from the Bible is how one interprets the two, Hexter says that these people did not have a clue whether to take Jesus for his word or not.

While Jesus seemed to be enhancing the Law, he also seemed to be breaking it as welli Everyone seems to be expecting an actual kingdom that will never fall to any country, but Jesus may be referring to a kingdom in the afterlife perhaps; this also creates tensions among the different Jews at the times, considering some groups of Jews do not believe in life after death. The elements of fantasy in this book seem to question how one should interpret the different scenes presented. While there are historical elements in The Passion, the fantasy elements make it hard for the reader to define reality in this book. The Bible also presents itself with complicating issues that could be interpreted literally or symbolically, alike. The Passion Hexter works through these seemingly impossible occurrences that partake in the Bible by presenting the historical aspects as the most accurate portions in The Judaeo-Christiun Tradition, Winterson uses fantasy in her book to leave room for interpretation and to make us determine what happens to Henri and Villanelle.

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The Use of History and Fantasy in The Passion by Jeanette Winterson. (2023, May 12). Retrieved from