D. H. Lawrence's novella, The Man Who Died, is undoubtedly one of the most audacious attempts in depicting a Jesus diversified from the biblical Jesus. Although the novella does not refer to Jesus' name itself, it is conspicuous throughout the short story that the man who died is in fact the messiah. The novella commences with the savior resurrecting into life after a "long sleep", referring to the messiah's execution.
As the novella progresses, Jesus revolutionizes into a mundane human being repudiating his former lifestyle. Throughout the novella, the reader sees a Jesus that is analogous to all other humans and a Jesus that is in contradictory to the universal Jesus everyone knows. Since the depiction of Christ contravenes the traditional tenets in the bible, then the novella must be blasphemous. Reviving from his execution, Jesus no longer cares about his former mission and the life of the gospel, except that he feels he overstressed the giving of love. The messiah no longer desires to exist in a life for others, as it led not to eternal life rather to his execution, but desires a life of his own: "The teacher and the savior are dead in me; now I can go about my own business, into my own single life" (23). Throughout the bible, Jesus is portrayed as a teacher guiding the people to salvation, distinguishing munificence from malevolence.
On the contrary, the novella captures this quality and omits it from the savior. Furthermore, Jesus no longer has a hunger to facilitate his disciples but rummages around in search of a life of his own: "He realizes that he has been saved from his own salvation, that he has neglected the needs of his own body to pursue a spiritual mission" (Cowan 175). Similar to the cock's escape from the string, Jesus breaks away from his former mission in an attempt to reincarnate. In doing so, Jesus contradicts the biblical messiah. In addition to neglecting his former mission, Jesus has premarital sex, a deed that is inadmissible according to the bible. Both the priestess of Isis and the man who died, have never affianced in sexual intercourse previously.
Furthermore, both characters are in search of something; Jesus is in search for the long repressed sexuality that his Father hid from him and Isis is in search for the lost Osiris: "For her, the risen man has supplied the missing phallus of Osiris; for him, the priestess of Isis, through the sexual relation, has given new meaning to the Christian concept of atonement" (Cowan 184). When the priestess sanctions Jesus to dwell at her villa, she scrutinizes the beauty of his suffering and deems that he is the lost Osiris, the god who has been killed and scattered and who awaits reintegration and re-creation at the hands of Isis. Moreover, both characters engage in sexual intercourse in the temple of Isis: " He crouched to her, and he felt the blaze of his manhood and his power rise up in his loins, magnificent. I am risen!" (80). Through the savior's encounter with Isis an illicit child is born, which displays a dissimilar Jesus. This climactic encounter is unacceptable in accordance with the teachings of Jesus in the bible.
Furthermore, when both characters engage in sex and create an illegitimate child they go against the traditional tenets of the bible because they are not married. Jesus becomes the lover of a priestess of Isis making him, in effect, the reborn Osiris, the lost dismembered god for whom the goddess Isis searches. Prior to the sexual intercourse, Jesus consents to be the pagan God, Osiris, only if the priestess mitigates his wounds: " And art thou not Osiris? Yes, if though wilt heal me!" (63). Furthermore, by consenting to be a pagan God Jesus repudiates his own teachings. When Jesus becomes the lost Osiris he mutineer's against the one Christian god and has sex with a pagan goddess, which is in fact blasphemous: " He doesn't even discreetly couple, as any decent Anglo-Saxon should, with a respectable Christian woman; but flaunts his manhood with the mere priestess of some pagan cult, a shameless foreigner" (Fowles 94). In addition to this inadmissible act, Jesus eulogizes other pagan gods and idolizes statues: "She is like sunshine upon me," he said to himself, stretching his limbs.
"I have never before stretched my limbs in such sunshine as her desire for me. The greatest of all gods granted me this"" (71). In this dialogue Jesus acknowledges that there are other gods, which contradicts the monotheistic religion of Christianity. Through the messiah's consent to be the pagan god Osiris and his adulation to the idols, Jesus no longer becomes the savior that we all know. Throughout the novella, Lawrence humanizes Jesus and takes the divinity away from him, neglecting a crucial ingredient from the former Jesus. Furthermore, Jesus wants to live a life of his own where his hands and feet do not have to do more than they can handle, as it previously led to betrayal on himself: "I tried to compel them to live, so they compelled me to die.
It is always so with compulsion. The recoils kills the advance. Now is my time to be alone" (32). In Christianity Jesus is believed to be not only fully human but also fully divine.
However, in the novella Jesus is epitomized to be only fully human which contradicts the biblical teachings. In Jesus' encounter with Madeleine, he lies to her and says that he will return to her house even though he knew he wouldn't deep under: " The words faltered in him. And in his heart he knew he would never go to live in her house" (25). The mendacity Jesus displays exhibits that Jesus is human and has blunder, and therefore he cannot be fully divine. Through Jesus's sexual encounters with the priestess of Isis, Jesus fathoms what it means to be fully human, an experience that he has never dealt with. The savior no longer desires to be fully divine but rather fully human: " The speech, which parallels Jesus' words to Pilate, illustrates again the change in the risen man's attitude toward life: no longer looking to be more than human, he now wishes to be what is even more difficult for him- an integrated man" (Cowan 177).
Jesus is fully human and fully divine and by extricating the two it is sacrilegious. As Jesus revives in tomb and awakens in a novel world, he no longer acquaints himself with the "have-nots" and isolates himself from everyone. As the novel commences, Jesus dwells with two peasants who give him their house as an asylum. The savior displays no reverence for the peasants because of their class in life: " He saw them as they were: limited, meager in their life, without any splendour of gesture and of courage.
But they were what they were, slow inevitable parts of the natural world. They had no nobility, but fear made them compassionate" (15). Furthermore, as the novel progresses Jesus encounters another inferior class woman, Mary Madeleine, a former prostitute that gave up her life to follow the message of Jesus. Jesus once again displays no deference for the prostitute and is in search for his own life: "He encounters Mary Magdalene and tells her that his mission is over, that his business is now his own single life.
He remembers his own past complicity in treachery and egotism and looks forward only to meet a woman who can lure his risen body" (Frank 149). Jesus segregates himself from the lower class and displays a lack of adoration toward the peasant and prostitute: " His attitude toward her includes contempt because of her class but goes beyond it to gender, for it parallels his attitude toward the other woman in the tale, Madeleine" (Harris 239). The superciliousness and repugnance Jesus displays toward the lower class portrays a savior dissimilar from the universal Jesus, which is in fact blasphemous. In addition to isolating himself from everyone, Jesus permits his cock to battle another cock, which displays Jesus' lack of love toward nature. Furthermore, the cock, which Jesus buys from the peasant, butchers the common cock of the yard: "So the birds fought savagely, and the cock of the man who died killed the common cock of the yard" (37). By eradicating the cock from life Jesus tolerates God's creation to die.
The messiah no longer abides by the commandment, "thou shall not kill" but defies it. As the novella continues, Jesus witnesses a girl being raped for allowing a pigeon to disperse: "When the female slave continues to lie inert- though there is a fight in her shoulders-the male slave gets desperate, grabs her by the hip and consummates his passion" (An ju 119). Furthermore, by witnessing a life form of God's creation and not abetting it in anyway, Jesus commits a sin. The lack of love Jesus exhibits toward Gods creation contradicts the biblical Jesus, and consequently it is blasphemous. Throughout D. H.
Lawrence's novella, The Man Who Died, the reader can lucidly see a Jesus vastly diversified from the biblical Jesus. Lawrence makes an audacious attempt in displaying a Jesus that endeavors in sexual contact with a pagan god and a messiah that is fully human but not fully divine. Furthermore, the novella portrays a Jesus parallel to a mundane human being who encounters new experiences on a daily basis. The ingredients that Jesus encompasses are vastly dissimilar to the universal savior, which unmistakably displays blasphemy throughout the short story.
The didactic novella makes an attempt to display the unscrupulousness of the world, where everyone including our savior are astray in society.