The Black Spider

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Jeremias Gotthelf ‘s novella, “The Black Spider” is a highly ideological story of an evil poisonous black spider that wreaks havoc and death upon the villagers. It begins with a picturesque framework of a christening party on a farm, during which a guest notices and inquires about an incongruous black post on a newly built house. The grandfather then tells a story about a tyrannical knight by the name of Hans von Stoffeln who imposed impossible burdens upon the villagers and of the devil that appears as a huntsman to be their savior. One villager, Christine, agrees to the devils proposal, thinking she can outwit him. However, her betrayal unleashes an uncontainable and perpetual evil upon their town. There is a certain order to the way things are done, and when that balance is interrupted or offset, things start to go awry. One of the main disturbances is the lack of paternal responsibility and leadership in their town. The first out of order-ness begins with the swap in gender roles. When the men run from the devil, one of their wives, Christine, intervenes and makes the deal herself; taking over the supposed paternal role. During this point in time women were seen as the lesser gender whose place was in the house preparing meals for her family and staying out of affairs they had no business in. It was the duty of the men to make sure it stayed this way. When Christine intervened in their problems and made the deal with the devil, everything slowly began to unravel. Due to Christine’s lack of judgment and betrayal to the devil, the black spider, a forceful and deadly evil was unleashed upon their town. This poisonous spider emerges from her cheek, birthing this sin upon their town. It inflicts a complete and utter disaster upon... ... middle of paper ... ...ted to make a child unhappy; for as soon as a godmother asked about a child’s name, this child would become inquisitive for his whole life” (Gotthelf). There is a certain importance of naming and once the babies received their name they were free and safe from the devils grasp; everything is in order as it should be. There is always a certain balance in life that people either knowingly or unknowingly abide by. In this tale, there was a lack of paternal instinct, as well as a lack of the people’s faith in God, both of which led to the birth and rebirth of the black spider. The poisonous black spider was a result of the imbalance of order and as a way to make the villagers pay for their sins. The people need to tell the story of the spider because it serves as a reminder and a lesson to be humble, to put ones trust and faith in God as well as to resist temptation.

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