Solving the problem of evil in the twenty-first century

Jafar

Image Credit: Jafar

Video Credit: Snake Jafar

Jafar in Aladdin alludes strongly to the Old Testament through the representation of evil through a snake, and the power he wields in his staff. Throughout Aladdin, Jafar holds a staff, a symbol of power as derived from the Old Testament. Firstly, the staff is in the form of a snake, alluding to Exodus 4:2-4, where Moses threw down his staff, and it became a serpent, but when he picked it up again, it turned back into a staff. When it departed Moses, it was serpentine, but with him, it was a normal staff. With Jafar, the staff is a serpent, revealing not that without Jafar the staff is a serpent, but because of the evil in Jafar’s heart, the staff in in the likeness of a serpent, which is the symbol of evil derived from Genesis 3. Later in the movie, Jafar uses his staff to exercise his magical powers. This is clearly an allusion to Exodus 4:17, which says, “take in you hand this staff, with which you shall perform the signs.” Moses used the staff through his talks with Pharaoh, making it a snake again, turning the river into blood,  bringing in the plagues, and then also when he parted the Red Sea. Likewise, Jafar’s power came from his staff: putting jasmine in an hourglass, turning the monkey into a toy, turning the carpet into thread etc. In an ultimate consummation, Jafar became like his staff, and took on the body of a massive snake, which is, of course, evil. This serpent, however, isn’t the crafty, subtle serpent in Genesis 3, but is more like the vicious, powerful serpent who became a dragon in Revelation. The dragon wars against the angels in heaven, but is cast down and defeated. Likewise, even with all his power, Jafar at the end of the movie is defeated and cast down into a lamp where he will be held forever more. Clearly then, Jafar’ very person as evil has a strong background based off the Bible.

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3 responses

  1. ler884

    The snake staff also shows up in “Young goodman brown.” The devil figure in this reading was able to derive some sort of power from his staff as well. When he loses it in the forest after killing a woman with it, he is forced to carve a new one in order to continue on the path with Young Goodman Brown.

    May 13, 2011 at 2:31 am

  2. Cool analysis of the use of the snake staff as a from of power. I like that early biblical imagery is invoked to help lend a menacing edge to the villain, quite an interesting twist for a Disney villain and a neat interpretation of power for a character who is clearly evil.

    May 13, 2011 at 3:21 pm

  3. deesdetfc

    I didn’t think about Jafar being a satan creature. I never thought about that either, Jafar made the inanimate snake evil, it was not the snake itself. Jafar wanted to be all powerful but ends up being constrained into a tiny black lamp and flicked into oblivion.

    May 14, 2011 at 8:38 pm

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