The Conversion of Thais the Whore - Essay Example

Published: 2021-08-11 10:39:25
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The Conversion of Thais the Whore is a play written by Hroswitha of Gandersheim. The play opens with Pafuntius, a Christian monk, lamenting the wicked and sinful nature of man while giving a lecture to his students. Pafuntius believes that Catholic is the only way to save humanity from sinful ways. After concluding his speech, Pafuntius talks to his class about Thais, a shameful whore dwelling in the land which he so tirelessly wants to cleanse of evil deeds. He embarks on a mission to look for her by pretending to want her company but just wants to convince her to join Catholic. He lures her to the church and locks her in a cell to devote the rest of her life to God and religion. After three years of confinement, Pafuntius gets a vision that Thais' sins are forgiven. She is released from the cell and dies fifteen days later. Her abject physical defilement and St Pafuntius' immaculate religious self-satisfaction cannot fail to stand as a persistent objection to the moralizing, patriarchal confinement of women throughout the ages.

Firstly, Pafuntius is a religious fanatic who believes that Christianity is the only solution to freeing humankind from the shackles of sin. He applies some of the gruesome and painful methods to punish Thais the whore. However, in the French version of the play, the monk finds himself in a dilemma whereby circumstances force him to face his overpowering love for Thais and his devotion to Christianity. A modern-day representation of Pafuntius' dilemma is evident in the 2006 reality show entitled God or the girl? The show features several young men, each struggling with a choice to either enter a life priesthood or that which guarantees marriage and children (Engle, 2006). Like Pafuntius, the young men struggle internally to choose between earthly desires or eternal life. Today, many Christians face the challenge of deciding between physical materials and devotion to God.

Secondly, the idea that isolation and deprivation of social intercourse can call forth one's devotion to God is debatable. According to Berne (p., 13), emotional deprivation can have adverse effects on the victim. He mentions that such deprivation can only lead to a transient psychosis or temporary mental disturbances. Therefore, by isolating Thais in a cell, the monk violated the rights of the woman. Her right to be free like others. Thus, the idea of instilling physical suffering to purge sin is inhumane. Still, the continuation of the cruel practices of the Pafuntius is represented in modern day by some Christians in the Philippines who volunteered to undergo crucifixion like Jesus to solicit forgiveness for their sins.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, the play Conversion of Thais the Whore is much gendered. The seductive qualities of Thais leave men fighting over her. Although the playwright attempts to isolate from the actions of the fathers of the church, we are left wondering if it is only women who deserve redemption. Why is Pafuntius interested in Thais than the men she engages in her actions? Also, his advice to Thais to struggle manfully is a representation of the ideal version of humankind and gender. Still, the play presents Thais as a stronger, erudite and intelligent woman. In other versions of the play, these features are not evident.

Works Cited

Berne, Eric. Games People Play. New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1964

Engle, S. D. (2006). A Study of the Thais Legend with Focus on the Novel by Anatole France.

 

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