Saturday, October 8, 2016

Understanding allegory: The Emperor's New Clothes

Somehow we have forgotten how to put our minds to work as we read. I'm not sure when it happened, but I've seen more and more confusion about simple children's stories. One such is "The Emperor's New Clothes," by Hans Christian Andersen. If you haven't read it, then follow the link and check it out.
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 This tale spells out it's meaning at the end, but the value is far beyond the simple observations. The point the author was bringing up was how people are capable of fully believing a lie while at the same time knowing it as a lie. George Orwell does much the same in the book, "1984," with the concept of "doublethink." Put bluntly, the Emperor in the story is naked and is too proud to admit he's been fooled by devious tailors, so he only suspects he's naked and forces himself to continue the sham. Therefore, he is on display to everyone as naked and shamed. "The Emperor has no clothes" means it is fakery, illusion, trickery, and is in fact all lies.
How often have we, ourselves, done the exact same?
Fiction is typically written for pure entertainment, so doesn't have deep lessons to teach. However, authors are human beings and so imbed such lessons anyway, though mostly implied. "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy is chock full of lessons, despite being a great fantasy. When you read, take a bit of time to digest what you've read. Think about it. There's good stuff beyond the words on the page, and sometimes you'll find an even deeper story floating there. If you need a starting point, go back to "Aesop's Fables" and enjoy figuring them out ... yup, some are just weird.
- M

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