Myth, Religion, and Violence in Pan’s Labyrinth and Bless Me, Ultima: A Comparative Analysis

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Rudolfo Anaya’s, Bless Me, Ultima and Guillermo del Toro’s, Pan’s Labyrinth are two coming-of-age stories. Both the novel and the movie are full of events that contribute to the disillusionment of the main character’s childhood idealism and the realization of the real world they live in. Both protagonists absorb themselves in a mythical world full of fantasy and each receives exposure to religious theology and trauma by the violence of men. Despite the fact that Antonio and Ofelia have different familial role models and travel along different paths, their childlike innocence, disillusionment, and initiation into adulthood comes about through similar themes: myth, religion, and violence. Bless Me, Ultima is about Antonio, the protagonist,…show more content…
Captain Vidal is Ofelia’s tyrannical stepfather who expects unquestioning obedience from her as well as everyone else. Since Ofelia lacks a mother figure, she establishes an attachment to Mercedes, the housekeeper and revolutionary spy. Mercedes in turn mothers Ofelia. Ofelia is most influenced by a faun, a mythical creature of the earth. This creature introduces her to natural magic, helps her by teaching her how to help heal her mother, and gives advice. He also tells her about the magical world that Ofelia is a part of via a past life and can join again. In general, mythology and natural magic is common in coming-of-age stories, especially when the main character is untainted by traumatic experiences that lead to disillusionment. It is the nature of childhood to have more insight to their environment and open to myths that adults no longer entertain. The innocent tend to accept coincidences as magic. In Anaya’s novel, Antonio is very fascinated by Ultima and her powers as a curandera and does not seem to question her methods once she cure his Uncle Lucas. Her magic makes him question the teaching he receives in school and church in this narration: I had been thinking how Ultima’s medicine had cured by uncle and how he was well and could work again. I had been thinking how the medicine of the doctors and of the priest had failed. In my mind I could not understand how the power of God could fail. But it had.

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