Monday, January 21, 2008

Another Snake Story

Consider the following synopsis of a story. Perhaps it reminds you of someone you know?

A young man, diligent and thoughtful, begins his work—first as an achieving student at a good university, and then as an upwardly mobile professional. He could be a lawyer, a doctor, a CEO. He works hard and struggles through the myriad of career hurdles and ethical traps of modern life. He develops integrity, self-esteem, talents and great success.

Then he meets a woman. Everyone around him sees that she’s no good for him. Perhaps she’s a gold-digger, or simply unstable. But our hero is committed to her. She puts him down or plays around. Finally, after a long struggle, she improves or he finds another, seemingly healthier, woman. But the problems continue. The new woman doesn’t really love him. She manipulates, withholds, or seeks to control.

While some of his friends have marriages of love and devotion—relationships that promote growth and joy—our hero continues to struggle. He always finds a woman who seeks his destruction.

In the end, happily, he receives help. He reads a book, talks to good friends, attends a support group, or therapy. He resists the temptations of his favorite kind of woman and stays alone. At least for a while.

In “The Three Snake Leaves” we again have the image of the snake bringing life, not death. (These fairy tales were surely pushing against the Christian doctrines of the time.) We have a devious wife who seeks the death of her spouse. We have a loving man who has a troublesome, dangerous feminine side. Did he have a wicked, psychologically devouring mother? The femme fatale demands his death.

But the hero survives. He has developed a loyal assistant (the ego) who serves his highest self (the King). His personality has found ways of healing his wounds and bringing life to death.

Unfortunately, in this tale, the feminine instinct or forces are so corrupt that they must be killed off, like the femme fatale villains of the noir genre.

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