Introduction As I mentioned in previous Spontaneous Quixote columns (Part One: Robin Hood and Part Two: Zorro), I’ve often thought about the differences between heroic figures in different cultures at different times in human history—which has led to this ongoing (and on-again, off-again) project of analyzing the artistic presentation (novels, plays, comic books, TV series, theatrical films, video games, et cetera) of various heroic protagonists. The notion of analyzing artistic works as a way of examining the culture that produced them (rather than the artists that produced them) is not a new idea; it’s essentially a cultural-studies branch of the literary theory known as New Historicism. However, whereas New Historicism essentially analyzes culture and history as a way to understand artistic works, I’m interested in analyzing artistic works as a way of understanding the cultures from which they emerged. I’m not the first person to take this approach, as it is a natural postmodern cultural studies extension of what archeologists and anthropologists have been doing for years with other types of “cultural artifacts.” After all, as social sciences, the basis of archeology and anthropology is that artifacts reveal characteristics of the society that produced them. We are thus able to learn a great deal about ancient cultures from the products they crafted. Similarly, we are able to learn a great deal about a time period from the products various cultures crafted during a particular era. The value of understanding human culture through the application of these social sciences should be obvious. Unfortunately, the value is not always obvious to everyone. Many of the social sciences (including archeology and anthropology) overlap with the humanities (the assorted academic disciplines that study human culture)—and many people often dismiss the value of the humanities. Some college students object to being required to take courses not directly linked to their majors or intended careers—which generally includes all of the humanities courses. After college, some people then object to subsidizing the humanities. In addition to the social sciences, the humanities include such disciplines as history; jurisprudence; ethics; comparative religion; ancient and modern world languages; semiotics; linguistics; philosophy; and the history, criticism, and theory of the arts (which includes music, the performing arts, the visual arts, literature, and any other form of “art” that human cultures possess). The final item in that list—the history, criticism, and theory of the arts—requires its practitioners to be disciplined in one or more of the other humanities as well, as studies of art can (and usually do) involve one or more of the other humanities. For instance, many forms of poetry and some forms of prose are based on musical structures. Thus, studies of T.S. Eliot’s poetry or Jack Kerouac’s prose can require knowledge of musicology in addition to knowledge of literature. Similarly, studies of any literary work that is more than a few decades old can involve the discipline of history, as it may be significant to consider the historical context of the society in which the work developed and from which it emerged. For instance, in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, when Prince Hamlet is discussing theater with the actors who are to perform The Murder of Gonzago for King Claudius, Shakespeare is actually criticizing some aspects of Elizabethan English society—an aspect of the play that is mostly lost on an audience that does not have knowledge of Elizabethan English history. In this way then, a society’s art and entertainment artifacts are just as significant in helping us to understand the cultures and time periods that created those “artifacts”—i.e. in helping each of us understand ourselves and others. Academic explorations of this type are part of what I hope to accomplish in my “quixotic mission” of writing Spontaneous Quixote. Middle Class Heroes for Middle Class Revolutions I’ve already presented a few of my immediate impressions of Robin Hood as a medieval English folk hero and Zorro as an American pulp fiction hero. Now it’s time to bring them together—to compare and contrast them, and to consider what their differences indicate about the respective cultures and time periods that gave rise to these heroes. However, as I’ve been working on this long-delayed “wrap up” to my Robin Hood vs. Zorro analysis I’ve discovered that I have once again underestimated how much material there is to cover. Thus, this week’s column is only going to focus on one point of analysis: The social class each hero came from. Unsurprisingly, the popular version of the stories of both of these heroes have them emerging from the “middle class” of their respective societies. In the separate columns devoted to Robin Hood and Zorro, I didn’t clarify why I pointed out the structure of society in the stories of these heroes; I merely mentioned that both came from the middle group in their respective society’s three-tiered social structure. (However, the historical Robin Hood, if there was one, most likely came from the lower group rather than the middle group—which makes it even more interesting that Robin Hood has been recast as a “middle class” hero as the legend was revised over the centuries). My consideration of the significance of social structure is a concept I borrowed from George Orwell. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell has a “book within the book” that allows him to comment on the concepts in his main work. To my mind, the earliest version of this meta-concept of a “work within the work” is Shakespeare’s having The Murder of Gonzago within Hamlet as a play that parallels the murder of Hamlet’s father. In Orwell’s case, Nineteen Eighty-Four includes two chapters of The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism by Emmanuel Goldstein. Just as Shakespeare’s play-within-the-play is a “mousetrap” that Hamlet uses to catch his father’s killer, “Goldstein’s book” (as it’s referred to within the novel) is a way for Big Brother to catch Thought Criminals. However, an effective trap requires effective bait to lure in the prey. In the case of Goldstein’s book, the “bait” is the actual truth about human society—or, at least the “truth” about the history of human society as Orwell viewed it. Here is an excerpt of chapter one of The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, “Ignorance Is Strength,” which Winston Smith read to Julia until she fell asleep in their bed: Throughout recorded time, and probably since the end of the Neolithic Age, there have been three kinds of people in the world, the High, the Middle, and the Low. They have been subdivided in many ways, they have borne countless different names, and their relative numbers, as well as their attitude towards one another, have varied from age to age: but the essential structure of society has never altered. Even after enormous upheavals and seemingly irrevocable changes, the same pattern has always reasserted itself. . . . Orwell then specifies the goal for each of these three segments of human society, and he notes that the “aims of these three groups are entirely irreconcilable”: “The aim of the High is to remain where they are.” “The aim of the Middle is to change places with the High.” “The aim of the Low, when they have an aim—for it is an abiding characteristic of the Low that they are too much crushed by drudgery to be more than intermittently conscious of anything outside their daily lives—is to abolish all distinctions and create a society in which all men shall be equal.” Orwell notes that this basic three-tiered social structure and set of goals recurs throughout history following the same basic pattern: For long periods the High seem to be securely in power, but sooner or later there always comes a moment when they lose either their belief in themselves or their capacity to govern efficiently, or both. They are then overthrown by the Middle, who enlist the Low on their side by pretending to them that they are fighting for liberty and justice. As soon as they have reached their objective, the Middle thrust the Low back into their old position of servitude, and themselves become the High. Presently a new Middle group splits off from one of the other groups, or from both of them, and the struggle begins over again. Of the three groups, only the Low are never even temporarily successful in achieving their aims. What Orwell states in this passage is not a fact that can be independently verified; it is an assumption—the warrant of a larger argument that is only implied within the excerpts from “Goldstein’s Book” contained in Orwell’s novel. However, it is an assumption with a great deal of historical backing. For instance, here are some “events” from various points in history that can back Orwell’s warrant in “Goldstein’s Book”: American Revolution (1776): Three-Tiered Social Structure: British Governance with Occupying Army—the High American “Aristocracy”—wealthy land owners and intellectuals—the Middle American Working Class—the Low Most of the “Founding Fathers” of the United States—Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, George Washington, et cetera—were wealthy landowners and intellectuals; in essence, they were “the American Aristocracy.” However, even though they were wealthy, they came from the Middle group of 18th-century Colonial American society. Estimates on how many Colonial Americans of European ancestry favored the revolution have varied greatly over the years. For instance, an erroneous understanding of something President John Adams wrote caused historians to believe the colonial population divided evenly into thirds. More recently, however, historian Robert Calhoon asserted that the following percentages existed within the three divisions of Colonial America: About 40–45% supported the revolution, About 15–20% wished to remain loyal British subjects, and About 35–45% were neutral. Yet, other historians believe Calhoon’s percentage of revolution supporters is too high—that the number should also be in the 15–20% range and that 60–70% of Colonial Americans had a neutral or apathetic attitude about becoming independent from England. Regardless of the actual numbers, most of the working class citizens (or Low group) were in the neutral-apathetic camp; they simply didn’t care enough about the political and economic issues to form an opinion about American independence—for as Orwell stated in Goldstein’s book, “it is an abiding characteristic of the Low that they are too much crushed by drudgery to be more than intermittently conscious of anything outside their daily lives.” In fact, not even all of the American Aristocrats wanted to separate from England and become an independent nation, as most of the British loyalists also came from the middle group and had economic interests that required a continued British presence in the colonies. This dichotomy in the Colonial American Middle group becomes evident when we contrast the original version of the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson with the version that was revised and accepted by the Continental Congress. Jefferson’s original document is more direct and assertive in demanding independence from England. However, the document Americans now revere as their Declaration of Independence had so many qualifiers inserted into Jefferson’s statements (against Jefferson’s wishes) that I have long thought that a better name for this cornerstone of American government would be the “Possible Pursuit of Independence if Our Grievances Aren’t Addressed to Some Extent.” However, filled with all that qualifying language, my “better name” doesn’t quite have the right revolutionary ring to it, does it? The actual American “patriots” (Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and others) needed to increase the level of social unrest in the colonies if the revolution was to succeed. However, rousing the Low to action is not an easy task. Jefferson knew that to get the Colonial working class to embrace the revolution he and the other Founding Fathers would need to promise to “abolish all distinctions and create a society in which all men shall be equal”—as Orwell phrased it in “Goldstein’s Book.” Most Americans know the famous sentence from the Declaration of Independence that evokes this notion of all men being equal: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Of course, the notion that everyone is equal and has an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is exactly the type of message a person in the Low group wants to hear—“we will make everyone free and equal so they can pursue happiness. All you need to do is help overthrow the current government and declare the colonies as 13 independent states.” Obviously, part of Jefferson’s plan of the Declaration was to force England to send a larger military force into America—an act the Founding Fathers then used to rally support from the Low by pointing to the British military as an occupying force that was oppressing them economically and impeding their freedoms. After American independence was achieved, the wealthy landowners became the ruling class in three areas—political, economical, and intellectual. A new middle class emerged from aspects of the previous middle and lower classes, and many in the low class remained Low through a lack of technical skills and economic opportunities. Thus, Orwell’s view in “Goldstein’s book” seems to hold true for the American Revolution, but it also holds true for various subsequent revolutions throughout history. French Revolution (1789): It could be argued that the three-tiered social structure in France prior to the French Revolution was the three estates: First Estate: the clergy Second Estate: the aristocracy Third Estate: the commoners However, for our purposes I’m going to combine the first two estates into the High segment of society, and split the third estate into the bourgeoisie (merchant class) and the prolétariat (working class): Aristocracy (and Catholic Clergy)—the High Bourgeoisie—the Middle Proletariat—the Low In this way, the French Revolution is one of the best examples of Orwell’s view, as the Bourgeoisie clearly sought to overthrow the ruling class by enlisting the aid of the Proletariat (it’s not a coincidence that the lowest class in Orwell’s novel is the Proletariat, or “Proles”). However, the politics of the French Revolution aren’t as absolute as Orwell makes them out to be in Goldstein’s book, as the Bourgeoisie were led by lower-ranked aristocrats—such as Lafayette, who aided his friends Washington and Jefferson in the American Revolution, and was then one of the leaders of the French Revolution who introduced the Declaration of the Rights of Man with Jefferson’s influence. Russian Revolution (1917): Three-Tiered Social Structure: Russian Aristocracy—the High Russian Bureaucrats and Industrialists—the Middle Russian Peasants (proletariat)—the Low During the Czarist era of Russia, Vladimir Lenin’s father, Ilya Ulyanov, was a government bureaucrat who came from a peasant background. However, after being appointed director of Simbirsk’s primary schools in 1874, Ilya Ulyanov was entitled to wear an embroidered uniform and be addressed as “Your Excellency.” Thus, the Ulyanovs were raised to the level of minor aristocrats due to Ilya’s effective work as a bureaucrat—which means that if he had been American rather than Russian, he would have been one of those rare Horatio Alger-styled success stories as a man who rose from the lower class to the middle class, and then from the middle class to the upper class. Thus, Vladimir (who took the name “Lenin” as an alias) was born into a comfortable life in Russia’s Middle group. Essentially, Lenin had Russian middle class values—and, as Orwell claims in “Goldstein’s book,” when he founded the Bolshevik Labor Party (splintering off from the Marxist Social Democratic Labor Party) Lenin presented it as an organization that promised to “abolish all distinctions and create a society in which all men shall be equal”—which is a direct emotional appeal to the peasants or proletarians. Lenin and his Bolshevik colleagues considered themselves the leaders of the revolutionary working class of Russia. In this regard, Lenin and his fellow Bolsheviks required the aid of the Low group to achieve their ends of toppling the Czarist government and eventually installing a Marxist-based communist government in which the means of production and all economic wealth were to be distributed evenly amongst the people of the Soviet Union. The problem was that the soviet system did not actually adhere to Marx’s ideology, which was more of an evolutionary social process that led to a series of social changes rather than the revolutionary process that the Bolsheviks implemented. However, arguments about either the beneficent or maleficent intent of the seven members of the first Politburo (Lenin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Trotsky, Stalin, Sokolnikov, and Bubnov) aside, it’s clear that these former members of the Russian Middle group became the new High group with the help of the Low group, and that the Low remained Low during the entire history of the Soviet Union despite a supposed egalitarian ideology. Germany from 1871–1945 (German Empire 1871–1918, Weimar Republic 1919–33, and Nazi Germany 1933–45) Germany is unique in that its “revolutions” were all achieved without open civil war. They were not achieved without violence, as there were numerous riots and worker rebellions, but Germany has never had an overt civil war between its various factions. Thus, it would not be accurate to term Germany’s revolutions as “non-violent”; instead, we might think of them as “compromising revolutions.” Three–Tiered Structure of the German Empire (aka the Second Reich): German Aristocracy German Bureaucrats and Industrialists German workers Before 1871, there were 27 independent German territories—mostly ruled by a score of aristocratic German families. In 1871, these 27 “fiefdoms” unified into the German Empire (the Second Reich) and had a social structure that paralleled the structure of czarist Russia. After the Second Reich’s defeat in World War I, the Middle German group sought to imitate the Russian Revolution and create a Marxist German nation. However, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) refused to work with the Marxist socialists, as the SDP favored a parliamentary system rather than a Marxist soviet system—and neither side was powerful enough on its own to overthrow the German aristocracy. Meanwhile, militant workers were pushing the Empire close to civil war, which essentially caused the aristocracy and the SDP to work together to form a government that somewhat resembled the British system of a ruling monarch (the German Kaiser), a prime minister (the German Chancellor), and a parliament. This republican form of government developed into the Weimar Republic. Thus, due to a lack of unity within the Middle group of the German Empire, the German form of a “Bolshevik Revolution” failed to Orwell’s claim about the Middle replacing the former High. Instead, part of the German Empire’s Middle group was able to share power with the High while the other part of the middle was suppressed. Three–Tiered Structure of the Weimar Republic: The German Upper Class of 1919–1930 (a combination of the German aristocracy and influential German industrialists that shared governing power in the republic) The German Middle Class of 1919–1930 The German Lower Class of 1919–1930 Following the collapse of the world’s economy with the Great Depression, Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist Party (the Nazi Party) were able to seize power after leading a coalition government following the general elections of 1932 in which the Nazis had the largest percentage of the popular vote—though not the clear majority of the vote. Much of the support for the Nazi Party came from the lower class German people who were suffering from the collapse of the world’s economy. After becoming Chancellor of Germany and the leader of the coalition government, Hitler was able to place party members and Nazi sympathizers in positions of power throughout all aspects of German society. In this way, Hitler manipulated the political structure of Germany and gradually replaced the Weimar Republic bureaucrats with his own Third Reich bureaucrats—and he achieved his new Germany with the help of the lower class. In turn, Hitler created a new three-tiered social structure: Upper Nazi Party members and the paramilitary SS Lower Nazi Party members (the Germanic People) Jews and the “Genetically Unfit” It appears that Hitler created a system that might not have been able to be overthrown internally due to who constituted the Low group and how they would not have been of any use during a civil war to a revolutionary Middle group. In fact, the three-tiered society of Oceania in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is essentially a fascist National Socialist society in which genocide wiped out the “undesirables” and left the common people splintered into the Outer Party Members of INGSOC who led lives that were just as impoverished as the lives led by the proletarians. In other words, if the High can effectively eliminate a Middle group by creating an economic situation in which there is no substantial distinctions between the Middle group and the Low group, then the oligarchical High may remain in power forever. Just such a situation may have existed in Hitler’s Nazi Germany, which would mean that if it had not been for the exterior forces of the Allied Nations that engaged Germany in World War II, the Third Reich may have never fallen due to internal forces—at least theoretically. The American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s: Upper Class: Top 20% of American society based on household income—mostly white. Middle Class: Middle 60% of American society based on household income (upper-middle class, middle-middle class, and lower-middle class)—mostly white, but with some “people of color” (as racial minorities were termed at the time) in the lower levels of the middle class. Lower Class: Bottom 20% of American society—mostly people of color along with “uneducated whites” with incomes below the poverty level. Alternative Three-Tiered Social Structure: Rich White Americans Non-Rich White Americans Racial and Ethnic Minorities Though their backgrounds were by no means identical, both Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X (nee Malcolm Little) essentially came from middle-class African-American families—which place them as either coming from the lower levels of the Middle group (middle class) or the upper levels of the alternative Low group (racial minorities). Both men attempted to change American society, but they had somewhat different goals and different means for reaching their respective goals. Dr. King was a seditionist who sought to bring about change through peaceful civil disobedience and oral rhetoric (similar to the approach Jesus took in Roman-Occupied Judea, see below). King’s goal was socio-economic equality for everyone. On the other hand, Malcolm X was a revolutionary who initially sought the overthrow of the white economic majority—possibly, but not exclusively, with the notion that African Americans and other people of color might become the new ruling class in America. To this end, Malcolm X met and consulted with Fidel Castro after Castro led the communist revolution in Cuba. However, after his trip to Mecca, Malcolm X’s goals were more closely aligned with Dr. King’s goals (though they were still not identical). Both sought socio-economic equality and empowerment for “people of color” within American society, and both required the aid of the African-American community (most of whom were members of the lower socio-economic group (the Low). Additionally, almost all of Dr. King’s and Malcolm X’s white supporters came from the middle class (mostly the upper-middle class). I could continue to demonstrate Orwell’s basic view of human society being divided into three classes with the Middle group continuously seeking to take power from the High group—such as: The three divisions within Japan during each of that nation’s historical periods, The three divisions within China during that nation’s various periods, The three divisions within various Third-World nations that have had communist revolutions that emerged from their respective Middle groups, The three divisions within South Africa’s apartheid system in which Nelson Mandela, the son of the Thembu Royal Family, is yet another middle class leader of the revolution, Et cetera. However, rather than continue to pile on this evidence, let’s just admit that Orwell appears to be essentially correct in his assessment of the recurring power struggles within societies, and that those societies have some form of tertiary structure in which the Middle group is constantly seeking to become the new High group with the aid of the Low group to whom equality is promised as a motivational tool. We can even see that same pattern (albeit slightly twisted) within America’s current capitalist democratic republic in which individual members of the middle class seek to move into the upper class by somehow “striking it rich.” They don’t necessarily want to “overthrow” the system; they just want to move up in the system as it currently exists—in the apparent belief that it’s possible for everyone to become part of the upper class, or if it’s not possible for everyone then “screw everyone else, I’m at least going to grab it for myself.” Essentially, the American Dream is rooted in this concept of upward mobility from a lower social group to a higher social group, and that the Dream can be achieved by everyone who works hard and invests his or her time and money wisely. However, more recently this “pure form” of the Dream (the Horatio Alger myth rooted within the Calvinist work ethic) seems to have replaced “hard work and wise investment” with “luck or cheating” as the way to achieve success in upward mobility—such as winning the lottery or running financial scams (or just by becoming a professional athlete and being paid millions each year to be part of the “circus” within capitalism’s contemporary form of Panem et Circenses). In fact, the only example from history I can think of that doesn’t exactly fit Orwell’s concept of a middle-class uprising is Jesus as a seditionist leader in Roman-Occupied Judea. While Jesus’s story mostly fits Orwell’s pattern, Jesus does not appear to have emerged from the Middle group of Judean society; he seems to have come from the Low group. Nevertheless, Jesus plays an important role when analyzing any of the middle class revolutionaries—including such “folk heroes” as Robin Hood and Zorro. Roman-Occupied Judea (Late First Century BCE and Early First Century CE) The social status of the family into which Jesus was born is a highly debated topic. The scholarship on the issue is muddied by the possible translation errors that occurred when the original Greek of the New Testament was translated first into Latin and then into various other languages—that were often translations from Latin editions of the Bible rather than going back to the original Greek source material. The subsequent translations (and interpretations) of the New Testament were then codified into religious dogma that was often set forth to support particular agendas within whatever sectarian beliefs a particular church was setting forth. Thus, it’s possible to find arguments that Jesus came from the lower class of Roman-Occupied Judea and other arguments that assert he came from the middle class of that society. Regarding this debate, the non-academic (or pseudo-academic) discussions of the issue on the Internet are generally of no use. Thus, it’s on controversial points like this one that I wish I could actually spend more time conducting real academic research of my own rather than rely on whatever information I can quickly locate in scholarly sources. However, even the legitimated academic discussions in scholarly journals are widely divided on the issue. In the summer 2010 issue of the Journal of Biblical Literature (volume 129, issue 2), Jonathan L. Reed summarizes the essential problem in the introduction to his article “Instability in Jesus’ Galilee: A Demographic Perspective”: There can be no doubt that Galilee, once mere background to historical Jesus research, has moved to the foreground. What was going on in Galilee during the reign of Herod Antipas has become a central question in discovering who Jesus was. But how can this be determined? Literary sources are notoriously unreliable, archaeological excavations are spotty, and theoretical models are often forced onto anecdotal literary or archaeological evidence. (343) Obviously, Reed is correct in why it is difficult to know how Galilean society was organized—how difficult it is to determine a precise demographical breakdown of the society in which Jesus lived. However, I am going to avoid the difficulty of the issue by offering an overly simplified three-tiered model of Roman-Occupied Judea as a whole—in other words, I’m not going to focus exclusively on Galilee: Occupying forces of the Roman Empire under the Emperor Tiberius—the High Rich Jewish merchants and the Jewish Priesthood—mostly centered in Jerusalem or in Roman cities within Judea—the Middle Common Jewish citizens, such as those in Galilee—the Low Thus, regardless of the specific social structure of Galilee, Jesus came from the lower class of the citizens of Judea as a whole—and this simplified model allows me to avoid the translation argument regarding whether Jesus’s father, Joseph, was actually a carpenter or a stonecutter (or perhaps a stonemason).* Furthermore, within Judea, Galilee was a mostly impoverished province of Galilee. Thus, while it can certainly be argued that Jesus came from the middle class of Galilee, I consider him to be a Judean hero who emerged from the Low rather than from the Middle. In Judea at the time, the Romans taxed 25% of a household’s earnings. An additional 15% of a household’s earnings were to be turned over to the Jewish priesthood as tithes (which is essentially a tax the way it was enforced). Thus, there is an oppressive High that is forcing extraordinary taxes on the Low—which is the socio-political situation in both Robin Hood and Zorro as well, as Prince John is imposing oppressive taxes on the Saxons in Robin Hood and Captain Esteban is and the Alcalde are imposing similarly oppressive taxes on the peons in Zorro. Within the socio-economic situation in Judea, Jesus became a seditionist who sought to bring about change through peaceful civil disobedience and oral rhetoric, and Roman records from the time clearly indicate that a man named Jesus was executed for the crime of “sedition.” There is no mention in the Roman civic records of Jesus being “the King of the Jews” or “the Messiah”—just that he was a seditionist. However, separate Jewish records from around that time indicate there were various “messiahs” in Judea—all of whom had followers who believed their leader was the prophesied Savior (including a Sumerian “Messiah” whom Pontius Pilate ordered crucified roughly a year before he ordered Jesus to be crucified). So . . . keeping religious dogma out of it, we have evidence that the historical Jesus was a lower class revolutionary leader who sought to “overthrow” oppressive conditions because he argued that all men should be equal. The only aspect of the Jesus story that doesn’t fit Orwell’s mold is Jesus coming from the lower class instead of the middle. There may well be other “exceptions” to Orwell’s rule about the revolution emerging from the middle class; there might well be other historical instances in which revolutions emerged from the Low group of a society. However, Jesus does seem to be an anomaly to some extent. Nevertheless, his “spiritual revolution” still follows Orwell’s program for the most part. Furthermore, Jesus’s lower social rank may also indicate the sincerity of his desire for social equality in that he was not looking to replace the current High with the current Middle; he was seeking to create a truly egalitarian society—which would correlate to Jesus advocating a type of socialism or communism. Of course, a Socialist Jesus is not an idea that is eagerly embraced by capitalist Americans. In fact, it could well be that a devout capitalist who also considers himself or herself to also be a devout Christian is currently reading these sentences and is bristling at my suggestion that Jesus would have advocate a capitalist economy. However: And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves. . . . (Matthew 21:12) And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves. . . . (Mark 11:15) And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought. . . . (Luke 19:45) Of course, people will counter-argue that Jesus was not expressing an anti-capitalist view when he cleansed the temple of the money changers (especially since capitalism as an economic system did not exist at the time); instead, he was rejecting that mercantilism and usury should be conducted in the temple—that he would have been fine with mercantilism and usury being conducted outside the temple grounds. However: Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? (Matthew 19:23–25) And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? (Mark 10:23–26) And he [the young rich man] said, All these [the Ten Commandments] have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him [the young rich man], Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he [the young rich man] heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved? (Luke 18:21–26) Jesus advocating the rich to liquidate their assets and distribute their wealth unto the poor sounds a great deal more like contemporary socialism than it does contemporary capitalism. Yet, zealous capitalists are not eager to embrace Jesus’s advocacy on this matter. Similarly, the notion that a historical Robin Hood might have come from the lower class, and that his motivations would have been personal gain rather than “stealing from the rich and giving to the poor,” has been altered as the Robin Hood legend has been passed down from generation to generation. Thus, by the time The Adventures of Robin Hood came out in 1938 our protagonist is a middle class hero who comes from an aristocratic family that once had substantially more power than they do under Norman rule—particularly under the oppressive rule of Prince John. So, yes, after all of this “historical context,” I have finally returned to my supposed focus on Robin Hood and Zorro rather than historical examples of Orwell’s concept. The changes in the Robin Hood legend from a possible historical figure who came from the Low to a literary figure who came from the Middle is significant because literary heroes are a reflection of the culture from which they emerged, and those cultures emerge from the society’s historical events. Thus, the historical figures in a culture influence the development of folk heroes like Robin Hood and pulp heroes like Zorro. In the case of both Robin Hood and Zorro, we have been given “folk heroes” who have been developed for a mostly middle class audience. Next Week: Robin Hood vs. Zorro: Creating Middle Class Heroes for Middle Class Audiences Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.