Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Devil and Miss Prym - Review(?)

Someone is too good, because he is deprived of the opportunity to become bad. This is the single thread driving the whole story and Paulo Coelho has dealt with convoluted human feeling in a commendable way.

Viscos, is a small remote village, filled with innocent and hardworking people, secluded from modernity of the rest of the world. A stranger arrives, with the sole motive of persuading the villagers to commit a murder. The motive may sound peculiar and complex, but Paulo Coelho’s novels deals with human aberrations and do not care much to mingle with real world.

The stranger selects Prym Chantal, to spread the news among the villagers. Chantal, a smart young girl, who knows that she deserves more than working in bar cum lodge as clerk and attendant, is dispossessed of the greeneries of life. The deal looks lucrative. 11 bars of gold for the one who commits a murder within a week. Chantal has two options, either she can commit the murder herself or, she can convey it to the villagers.

The confusions of Chantal, and her inability to steal the gold and runaway, which she brands as her cowardice, are depicted excellently.

Another interesting character is Betra, the oldest of Viscos citizens. Had it been someother novel, her habit of getting clues from nature and talking telepathically with her husband who expired 15 years back may sound strange and would make us wonder whether it is some novel dealing with ghosts and supernatural powers. But not when the author is Paulo Coelho. He stresses on colossal power of mind and almost makes us believe what he says. In fact, Betra becomes the first to know that devil (the stranger) has come to village.

In straight contrast to Alchemist, where much was left to the reader to decide and understand, here the author comes out with his own views and arguments, which makes things interesting somewhere and arguable at some points.

The whole novel stresses on one point. Be it be the stranger who wants to turn the village into a murderous gang, or the Head Priest who convinces himself in persuading the villagers to commit the murder only because, he believes that the guilt feeling would make them turn towards God, or Miss Chantal herself, who chooses to steal the gold and run away when the whole village blames her for spreading the word of stranger among them, one thing is made clear. Man passes on his failures and wants to turn the world devilish just as revenge towards the cruelty of fate towards him.

May be that is true. Failures and misfortunes turn us against God. When things do not happen the way it ought to, that too worsening the situations, men do rethink about his faith in Almighty. Why the hell should someone dare to shun God when all on earth goes well with him? Rather, one would not take the risk of shunning Him for he has the genuine fear of losing something if he earns the wrath of Him. But for someone who is in deep loss (the stranger), who has never tasted success (like Chantal for example), God means nothing at all.

The small short stories, which were inserted professionally, without making us feel odd, does the intended work correctly. I was browsing thorough The Monk who sold his Ferrari earlier, and found that Robin Sharma was bold enough to lift and use some of these in his book.

When we choose to do what the crowd does, least we bother about ethics and genuineness. Head Priest and few others convince easily the whole village to kill Betra and to earn the reward.

How the brave Chantal sets to stop this forms the rest of the story. Chantal gets assurance from the stranger that she would be rewarded even if the murder does not happen. The lecture she gives to the villagers when they are all ready to shoot at the unconscious Betra could have been a bit more convincing. Had it been a movie or drama, a spectator would have come out with a contemptuous comment at this place. But this being a novel, that lacuna does not seem obvious.

As far as I could infer, author tries to prove that by preventing Betra’s murder, devil is outsmarted. Chantal, who does this job of saving the human values, was assured already of the reward. Thus, some selfish motives can be assumed to have driven Chantal, though ultimately good prevails. This defeats the whole motive of novel and lands us back to square one. We can conclude it this way. Human values can be saved from devils of frustration and vengeance, if a sum of huge money is given to someone to safeguard the community from losing its purity. That sounds funny.

Yet, novel throws up a different form of thought, and Paulo, for most of the times, comes out with convincing answers. For sure a thought provoking number from the author of Alchemist.


Blogger thennavan said...

OT: Have blogrolled you :-)

Saturday, June 25, 2005 8:13:00 PM  
Blogger Tantalising Tycoon said...

Hi Vasu,

Nice one... One Error.. Instead of Cowardness i think cowardice should be used.


Monday, June 27, 2005 7:13:00 AM  
Blogger fieryblaster said...

thanks for pointing that our pramodh. i will correct it.

Monday, June 27, 2005 6:31:00 PM  
Blogger thennavan said...

Thanks for the comment on mine :-)

Friday, July 01, 2005 9:12:00 PM  

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