Gideon’s Freedom in Doris Lessing’s No Witchcraft For Sale Essay

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Gideon’s Freedom in Doris Lessing’s No Witchcraft For Sale

Dr. Gosby’s Comments: This student did an excellent job of applying the ideas we discussed in class relating to the obedience to authority

When Europeans moved into the bush of Southern Africa and realized that they were hopelessly outnumbered, they had to develop ways to create and maintain their authority over the native population. They had tremendous advantages in the obvious areas, as author Jared Diamond writes in his Pulitzer Prize winning book: The proximate reasons behind the outcome of Africa’s collision with Europe are clear. Just as in their encounter with Native Americans, Europeans entering Africa enjoyed the triple advantage of guns and …show more content…

In the story, Gideon administers a medicinal root to the son of his European employers. When word gets around, a white doctor asks Gideon to show him the root so that it can be made available on a commercial basis. He chooses to defy the authority of his superiors to protect the secrets of his trade and his culture. Gideon's life as a humble servant leaves him with little power over anything. His role as a witchdoctor is where his only true power lies. It is a kind of power that would be extremely important to one who lives to serve. As "the son of a famous medicine man," he was born into a very special tradition (Lessing 73). "Witchdoctors.... are well trained in traditional medical practice, psychology and psychiatry and symbolize the hopes of their society; hopes of good health, protection and security from evil forces, prosperity and good fortune, and ritual cleansing when harm or impurities have been contracted" (Anti 4). Gideon's defiance may be explained by the fact that the secret root is part of a tradition that a European doctor is not included in; a lesson passed from father to son. Furthermore, it could be concluded that, to a witchdoctor, there is more to medicine than simply taking a pill to cure an ailment, whereas in Western medicine, that's usually just what the doctor ordered. This is a fundamental difference in perspective that could be

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