Solving the problem of evil in the twenty-first century

El Hombre Palido (The Pale Man)


In Pan’s Labyrinth the main character, Ofelia, who loves fairytales, moves with her pregnant mother to the home of her new Fascist army general of a stepfather during World War II. Attempting to keep her childhood life secure from worldly forces, she keeps her fairytale hopes alive when Ofelia encounters a faun who informs her of her true identity. The faun tells her that she is the daughter of a king in a magical world and in order to return to her former self she must prove her loyalty by completing 3 tasks. Of the 3 tasks, the second alludes to one of the stories in the bible.

In her second task, Ofelia must retrieve an object from a portal that leads her to the dining table of the Pale Man. This ghastly creature has hands that have slits in them for eyes and eats children. It sits before an elaborate table of extravagant foods and delicacies that are mouthwatering at their sight. Prior to this task, Ophelia was punished by not being able to eat dinner. So the sight of this tremendous amount of food is very tempting to her. The faun had warned her that she must not eat any of the food that she sees. She then completes the task and on her way out, she satiates a bit of her hunger by snagging some grapes and awakens the beast that threatens her life.

In this scene, Ofelia embodies the persona of Eve. Much like her, Ofelia is an innocent child that is forbidden from eating the fruit of The Tree of Knowledge by God. The Faun almost takes on a Christ-like figure in giving the tasks and testing Ofelia of her ability to obey commands that will lead her back to her father’s kingdom which symbolizes heaven. Although she is warned of the consequences of not being able to return and be happy in the kingdom (like Eve), she still disobeys. This scene embodies the beginning of the fall of Adam and Eve. As Ofelia eats of the forbidden fruit, she brings to light the story of Genesis. She is a woman that fails to disregard temptation and ends up putting her own life in jeopardy.

With that in mind, as she eats, the creature comes to life and begins to stalk after her. This exemplifies how the innocence and life everlasting of Adam and Eve was taken away and replaced by the ability to die. In awakening the creature, Ofelia opens the door for her own temptations to outweigh the need to please her father to gain entrance into his kingdom. In Christian aspects, one must not let temptation rule their lives. It should be disregarded no matter how difficult to prove you are worthy of God’s kingdom and grace. If she had not let her own temptations cloud her judgment, Ofelia would not have had to fear for her own life.

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2 responses

  1. jlai1226

    This is one of my favorite movies! Interesting parallels between Ofelia and Eve. I also think that it is interesting that both are told not to do something, but they are not explicitly told why they shouldn’t do it. Also, Ofelia’s offense seems to be more extreme since she is warned again by the fairies right before not to do it, and the pale man is sitting at the table. She sees the potential consequence but ignores it. Overall though, really interesting post!

    May 14, 2011 at 12:52 pm

  2. deesdetfc

    I never considered the comparison of the faun to a Jesus figure. If you want to make the comparison of Ofelia to Eve, a better wording would be God and not Jesus.

    This scene is the part I hate most about the movie. Otherwise the movie is pretty good.

    This makes me wonder about whether the writer had intentions, or if it was intended at all. Maybe it’s something the writer unconsciously felt, and it shows in the movie.

    May 14, 2011 at 8:27 pm

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