The Personification of Death in Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus Essay

The Personification of Death in Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus Essay

Length: 874 words (2.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Personification of Death in Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus

The personification of Death is done by means of a princess of the Underworld in Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus. This Princess is very powerful, yet surprisingly vulnerable. For no one is allowed to love in the Underworld, the Princess falls in love with a famous poet named Orpheus and goes to drastic measures to be with him. But in the end she cannot be with her love, and she realizes this and does what is forbidden in the Underworld and defies time and sends back her love to whom he loved before her. Death in Cocteau’s Orpheus is not only powerful and vulnerable, but she also changes throughout the course of the movie. Three elements support that the Princess changes throughout the course of the film and what brings about this change. These elements are dialogue, clothing and appearance, and actions.

One way that Cocteau creates the Princess’ character by the usage of dialogue. The powerful Princess Death is a very harsh, and controlling character at the beginning of the movie. She is seen as very authoritarian and demanding. The first scene in which the viewer encounters the princess, she orders Cegeste, Heurtebise, and Orpheus. This is the first time that the princess is ever seen by Orpheus and the first words that she speaks to him are very harsh and demanding. The Princess is accompanied by a young poet named Cegeste, and when Cegeste is killed by the motorcyclists she orders Orpheus to help her and to come as a witness. She then continues her orders by ordering the chauffer, Heurtebise, to not go to the hospital, but to go “the usual route”. She continues in her harsh tone of voice by ordering the motorcyclists. Every person that the Princess converses with in the begin...


... middle of paper ...


...s also seen when she can kill people with a single glance and then raise them to be her servant in the Underworld. She chooses to raise Cegeste to be her personal slave. Her vulnerability is displayed when she watches Orpheus sleep. Despite the Princess’ power, she becomes vulnerable and defies the rules of the Underworld and return’s Orpheus back to life. This action proves that the Princess has a true love for Orpheus and does not worry about the consequences of doing what her heart feels right.

Cocteau suggests that there is a higher power than even Death itself. The Princess personifies Death, but she is controlled by the Committee of the Underworld. If she were the most powerful facet of Death, then she would not be controlled by anyone or anything. Therefore, the Princess in Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus represents not Death, but one of the many faces of Death.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Varying Attitudes Toward Death in the Masque of the Red Death Essay

- Varying Attitudes Toward Death in the Masque of the Red Death       "Since the day of my birth, my death began its walk. It is walking toward me, without hurrying." Edgar Allen Poe provides us symbolically with the reaction of man to the pursuance of death that Jean Cocteau described before, in his gothic short story, "The Masque of the Red Death." Prince Prospero symbolizes the optimist who seeks to avoid death. The Masqueraders represent the pessimist-the carefree who seek to forget about death....   [tags: Mask Masque Red Death Essays]

Better Essays
1279 words (3.7 pages)

Essay On Personification Of Death

- Personification of Death It is said in Greek mythology that when Persephone lives with Hades in the underworld as his bride, Persephone’s mother Demeter the Goddess of Seasons, goes into mourning and the earth experiences winter. When Persephone returns to the upper world, Demeter rejoices and the earth experiences Summer. ~ The defeated old man tainted grey and condemned by the world breathes his last breath and escapes his worldly torment. Beside him a young, starry-eyed girl grips the mourning bedding and weeps into his haggard, lifeless arm....   [tags: Persephone, Hades, Death, Demeter]

Better Essays
976 words (2.8 pages)

Essay On Personification Of Death

- Death does not discriminate; we will all die one day, but is that so bad. Western societies view death as a harbinger of doom. Often personified as a skeletal figure looming around the corner, waiting to take its victim to the unknown. Better known as the Grim Reaper. Research suggests the way a culture personifies death can representative of our attitudes towards death (Bassett 164). In this case our personification of death reflects the negative attitude to the subject. Should we as a society be afraid of death or should we embrace older philosophies into our society in order to cope with our reality....   [tags: Capital punishment, Prison, Death, Murder]

Better Essays
1837 words (5.2 pages)

The Role of the Princess in Jean Cocteau’s Film Orpheus Essay examples

- The Role of the Princess in Jean Cocteau’s Film Orpheus “As he lay in his bed, Orpheus’ Death would watch him sleep.” This is one of the most notable reoccurring behaviors of the princess of death in Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus. As made apparent, one of the many differences between Cocteau’s version of Orpheus and the Greek version is that death is personified through a female princess, rather than that of a male god. How does Cocteau embody death through the princess, is she all powerful, does she escape mortal tendencies, and finally, what does all this suggest about death....   [tags: Orpheus]

Better Essays
1047 words (3 pages)

Love and Death in Cocteau's Film Orpheus Essay

- Love and Death in Cocteau's Film Orpheus In Jean Cocteau's Orpheus, death is personified through the character of the Princess. The Princess is an extremely powerful figure, although she ultimately succumbs to the power of love. Cocteau uses her actions, clothing, and dialogue to show her as a contradictory mix of being both very powerful, yet still very vulnerable to the power of love. The main tool used by Cocteau to demonstrate this are her actions. Although she claims that she is not allowed to love, she is in fact in love with Orpheus....   [tags: Movie Film Essays]

Better Essays
915 words (2.6 pages)

The Death Of A Moth Essay

- Terrell Owens once stated, “Life and death. At some point we 're gonna leave this world. Do I know when. Absolutely not.” This means that death is unexpected and ambiguous. In The Death of a Moth by Virginia Woolf, she states the transition of life into death. Woolf explains the change of atmosphere as the pure life from a small creature changed dramatically as death hits it. Death destroyed the amount of life that the small moth had. Virginia Woolf’s use of strong rhetorical devices such as symbolism, personification, similes, pathos, imagery, and contradicting diction portrays a message that life is a beauty that people should cherish; however, death will destroy it....   [tags: Life, Death, Personification, Death]

Better Essays
1045 words (3 pages)

Essay on Personification : Literary Element In The Leap By Louise Erdrich

- Personification: Literary Element A circus is a magical place where it seems like nothing negative exists. Though accidents in the circus are rare, they happen. For example, in June of 2013, “ Aerialist Sara Gyyard Guillot, 31, fell 94 feet in Las Vegas and died before she got to the hospital” (providence.journal.com). Even more stories of death-defying acts ending in certain death have appeared over the years. Circuses can fill people with joy, but tragedy can strike at any moment. Just like Sara Guillot, the narrator’s mother in the story “The Leap” by Louise Erdrich, she thrived in the life of a circus performer....   [tags: Circus, Wind, Personification, Life, WIND]

Better Essays
1359 words (3.9 pages)

Joseph Bedier's The Romance of Tristan and Iseult and Jean Cocteau’s Eternal Return

- The Romance of Tristan and Iseult, by Joseph Bédier, and Jean Cocteau’s 1943 cinematic adaptation of the epic love story Eternal Return, both portray the love between Tristan and Iseult, and Patrice and Natalie as an agonizing cancer that overpowers the lovers after they consume the love potion. But the differences of how and when the love potion is administered, and the lovers’ feelings for each other before the potion is drunk, reveal different depictions of the love potion between the novel and the film....   [tags: Comparison of Book and Film]

Better Essays
890 words (2.5 pages)

Death and its Personofication in Greek Mythology and Other Cultures Essay

- Death “The fear of death is deeply embedded in us” (Cave 1). Death is something that everyone fears. As humans we like to believe that we are inhuman and that death will never affect us. It’s the ugly side of life that no one likes to think about. It doesn’t matter what race, culture, or region we are, we’ll all die. Many believe that when we die we go to heaven or hell, but what happens to our body after we are dead. Do we float on to parallel universe, or does our body just appear wherever we are destined to be....   [tags: Cultures, Religion]

Better Essays
1559 words (4.5 pages)

Essay on The Visual Re-Creation of Orpheus

- The Visual Re-Creation of Orpheus Jean Cocteau’s film Orpheus (1949) is an adaptation of the Greek mythological figure of the same name. The alteration of the story into the visual medium of cinema is an interesting one. The use of cinematography in the film is creative, and it incorporates the essence of the myth with Cocteau’s own allegorical imagery. The symbolism of characters and events accompanied by the use of visual effects create a message that is uniquely significant. The special effects are the primary contributor to the distinctive features of Cocteau’s revision of the literary version....   [tags: Jean Cocteau film Orpheus]

Free Essays
837 words (2.4 pages)