Myth, Religion, and Violence in Pan’s Labyrinth and Bless Me, Ultima: A Comparative Analysis

Myth, Religion, and Violence in Pan’s Labyrinth and Bless Me, Ultima: A Comparative Analysis

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Rudolfo Anaya’s, Bless Me, Ultima and Guillermo del Toro’s, Pan’s Labyrinth are two coming-of-age stories. Both the novel and the movie are full of events that contribute to the disillusionment of the main character’s childhood idealism and the realization of the real world they live in. Both protagonists absorb themselves in a mythical world full of fantasy and each receives exposure to religious theology and trauma by the violence of men. Despite the fact that Antonio and Ofelia have different familial role models and travel along different paths, their childlike innocence, disillusionment, and initiation into adulthood comes about through similar themes: myth, religion, and violence.
Bless Me, Ultima is about Antonio, the protagonist, who struggles with questions concerning religion and the local pagan myths. His mother, Maria, introduces him to Catholicism by sending him to catechism and church. Maria dreams that he will assume a role in her family and become a farmer and even a priest to lead her people. However, his father, Gabriel, expects him to become a vaquero and hopes this free spirited persona will travel with him to California. Ultima is Antonio’s most influential role model. She is a medicine woman who guides and teaches him tolerance and the importance of making his own decisions. Many other characters alter his viewpoint of the world. Some of these characters die, one is a murderer, and another introduces him to local myths.
The heroine in Pan’s Labyrinth is Ofelia, a girl trapped in the middle of a revolution and escapes in a world of fairytales through books and imagination. Ofelia’s mother, Carmen, is pregnant and very sick. Under the influence of her husband, she encourages her daughter to stop reading chi...

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...olent incidences contrast in specific details and their fathers personas, both children lose their innocence and gain the experience and knowledge to question life and make logical decisions.
In conclusion, these two coming-of-age stories of Tony and Ofelia contrast in situation, but the powerful similarities in themes lead them both to the same initiation into adulthood. Both begin innocent and absorbed in fantasy and fairy tales, both begin to be disillusioned by religious themes, and both have their fantasies and dreams struck down by violent realities.

Works Cited

Anaya, Rudolfo A. Bless Me, Ultima. New York: Warner Books, 1999. Print.
Pan’s Labyrinth. Dir. Guillermo del Toro Perf. Ivana Baquero, Doug Jones, Sergi López , Ariadna Gil, Maribel Verdú, Álex Angulo, Roger Casamajor, Cesar Bea, Manolo Solo. Tequila Gang/Estudios Picasso/Telecinco, 2006. DVD.

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