A Personal Review of Song of Solomon

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Originating from a Christian background, my first reaction to getting ‘Song of Solomon’ as one of the summer assignment books was panic as I had forgotten all of my Biblical studies. Then I noticed the author’s name was ‘Toni Morrison’, and I felt even more anxious. Her previous work, ‘Beloved’, had not resonated well with me.

‘Song of Solomon’ is a book in the Bible that celebrates love between a man and a woman; particularly that of sexual love. However, Morrison’s work does not celebrate sexual love or loyalty.

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Instead, one of the main themes she explores throughout the book is the negative repercussions of having women define themselves through, and rely on, the men around them. Most of the women in ‘Song of Solomon’ suffer because of the men in their lives and as a result, grapple with difficulties in love.

Hagar is so steadfast in her love for Milkman, that after he rejects her for other women after twenty years of what he considers trifling, Hagar loses herself: “Having spent another day without his presence, her heart beat like a gloved fist against her ribs” (Morrison 127). Hagar has dedicated her life to Milkman to the point that if she cannot have him, no one can. That’s why she decides to attack him with an ice pick, swing a hammer at him, stab him with a knife but “[a]wed by the very presence of her victim, she trembled violently and her knife thrusts and hammer swings and ice-pick stabs were clumsy” (129). Hagar ultimately dies because of Milkman; she catches a fever after spending hundreds of dollars on accessories and clothes, in an effort to catch Milkman’s eye.

Turning to the recurring Biblical allusions, Milkman’s mother, Ruth’s character does not match that of her Biblical namesake. In the Bible, Ruth is lauded for her loyalty to her husband, Boaz. Conversely, Morrison’s Ruth isn’t loyal to her husband, Macon Dead. While this appears to contradict my thesis, it’s crucial to note that Ruth does not physically cheat on her husband. Instead, she isn’t emotionally loyal to Macon – she remains loyal to her father, the Doctor, to the extent of having him act as her midwife, and to her son, Milkman, whom she continues to breastfeed well beyond his teething stage (i.e., when he is capable of chewing and swallowing solid food). Milkman one day follows Ruth away from the house, suspecting that she is having an affair behind his father’s back, only to discover that she is visiting her now-deceased father’s grave. In a sense, her faithfulness to her father (and son) is her form of infidelity. She isn’t true to Macon, unlike her Biblical counterpart.

Currently, counting on the sole female who does not define herself or depend on the males around her, Pilate Dead, sister of Macon Dead. In comparing the contrast between the characters and their Biblical equivalents, we notice that Pilate is perceived as the ‘villain’ of the New Testament. He is a criminal who is released in order to facilitate the death of the sacrificial lamb, Jesus. However, Pilate Dead refuses to let her name’s history or her background define her. Instead, she rejects all social norms and is self-sufficient. Pilate can even be considered as the hero to Milkman, contrary to the thief that the Biblical Pilate is. Milkman’s substantial peacock tail is completely gone following her death, resulting in his liberation. Moreover, due to her lack of a navel, her “stomach was as smooth and sturdy as her back” (27-28). She does not possess the symbol linking her to the earth. In a way, she is transcendent as she is not restrained to only humanity. Additionally, she regularly consorts with the dead.

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A Personal Review of Song of Solomon. (2022, Dec 16). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/a-personal-review-of-song-of-solomon/