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Ali Alkhunaizi

P3 Draft 1


Samantha Edmiston

Biblical German Parables Analytical Report

Throughout history, many parables have been translated into English, especially German

parables. A parable is a short imaginary story that is written to give the reader one or more moral

lessons from life. Three examples of German parables that involve a religious theme and

translated to English are The Three Ring Parable, Before the law, and an imperial message. The

three ring was originally a play and was written is 1779 by the German author Gotthold Lessing

under the theme of religious tolerance. Before the law and an imperial message were written in

1915 and 1919 respectively (Fickert, 76). The audience of such parables are mostly adults who

seek learning lifes lessons. Additionally, the three texts mentioned above are written based on

Christian themes or they can be called biblical parables. Therefore, specific audience of the three

parables mentioned could be mostly Christians. The analysis of the three religious German

parables will show the common features of the genre by exploring the dependence of a main

character and the text length. At the end of the analysis, a better understanding of what a German

parable writer considers during the writing process which is being concise and keeping the

audiences attentions.
A character that drives a story

Parables are generally stories and one important aspect that drives the

story and its events is a main character. A main character is usually

emphasized on, as in Lessings and Kafkas parables. Beginning with the

three ring parable, where a Muslim Sultan and a

wise boy where the Sultan asked the boy which

religion is true? The boys wise answer was that

no one can tell which religion is true (Lessing, act

3, scene 7). The boy mentioned a story where a

dying father had three sons and a precious ring

that the sons had conflicts about. Throughout

the parable, the wise boy or Nathan the wise (Stein Thue).

appeared to take control of the story by wisely answering the sultans

questions. During reading the story that Nathan encountered, it might not be

obvious what his intentions were. However, Nathan brings the readers

attention by talking about the father And loved you all alike, it could not please him

by favouring one to be of two the oppressor (Lessing, act 3, scene 7). The previous

closing statement of the parable provides us the insight of how Lessing

intended to drive his story by Nathans character.

The same idea could be applied on before the law and an imperial

message. Before the law represented a person who was having a

conversation with a doorkeeper and was trying his best in order to let him in.

The doorkeeper in this parable appeared to be a person with authority. As in

the three ring parable, the man was asking question while the doorkeeper

answering him with answers that keeps the reader attention to the story.

Similar to the three ring parable, the person who was driving the story, the

doorkeeper, at the end of the parable stated 'No one but you could gain admittance

through this door, since this door was intended only for you. I am now going to shut it' (Kafka).

In addition for the doorkeeper to be the character with authority and power, he also the one who

affects the events of the parable and keeps the readers attention by his responses to the man.

An imperial message parable is subject to the same idea of depending on a main powerful

character. In the beginning of an imperial message parable, it appears that an emperor or a king is

trying to deliver a message using one of his messenger. As the story continues, it changes as if

the emperor was good and Kafka was trying to prove to the readers a connection between good

and a man. Throughout the story, it is clear that Kafka was focusing on the man who was trying

to deliver the message by going through his journey while taking the message to where he was

asked to. For example, Kafka said The messenger immediately sets out on his journey; a

powerful, an indefatigable man; now pushing with his right arm, now with his left, he cleaves a

way for himself through the throng (Naveh, 150). After that, Kafkas kept describing the

journey of the messenger and how he struggled during it. As a result, the messenger in this

example appears to take control of the storys events.

Text Length

Because parables are written to teach audience from lifes lessons, authors usually keep

them concise and short. In Kafkas two parables, they are only one page long. However,

Lessings parable (The excerpt considered above) are six pages long. However, it is longer that
Kafkas ones because it involves a character that encounters a story. One of the several reasons

that authors keep their parables short because they are written to affect or interest general public.

Meaning that more complicated and longer text with a hidden lesson might be difficult to keep

track of by general public audience. Additionally, a person who is looking to learn from a story is

not interested in writing more than 10 pages-long story.

Purpose to Analyze

To conclude, the previous paragraphs illustrated and analyzed the thinking of Biblical

German parables translated to English. It was found that the analyzed parables written by

Lessing and Kafka are intended to focus on a main character that keeps the readers attention and

to be concise so the audience understands the hidden lessons in the parables. By looking at the

examples provided from the parables above, a connection could be made between the authors

thinking during the writing process and how the parables were written.
Works Cited

Fickert, Kurt. The Emperor's Message: Truth and Fiction in Kafka. Wittenberg University, 1991.

pp. 76.






The photo is taken from Stein Thues blog.