Intangible Concepts In The Bacchae

In society, there are often figures that maintain a god-like presence. These figures include tangible entities such as presidents, dictators, kings, queens, or even gods themselves, such as Dionysus in Euripides’ The Bacchae. All of these entities are god-like because they exert an extraordinary influence on human beings and their actions. While physical beings can possess god-like qualities, this is not always the case; intangible concepts can also assume a “divine force” in society. Given this, Toomer uses Cane’s “Theater” to show how intangible concepts, specifically racism, can function as gods in society. By doing so, Toomer expands on Euripides’ assertion in The Bacchae, which confines gods to physical beings. What defines gods is their …show more content…
While this is supported in the The Bacchae, Jean Toomer extends Euripides contention to include intangible concepts, as well. Using the Cane vignette “Theater”, Toomer argues that intangible concepts, specifically racism, can exert extraordinary influence on humans, too. In this vignette, a group of African Americans are dancing to jazz, a seemingly simple activity. They are listening to the jazz, letting the life and culture of outside “soak” into the walls of the theater (Toomer, 67). “At night, road-shows volley songs into the mass-heart of black people (Toomer, 67).” In other words, they are unified in their common background, without worry of prejudice. Despite this, it is the way Toomer describes the theater’s structure that hints at racism’s hidden influence. Toomer states, “black-skinned, they dance and shout above the tick and trill of white walled-buildings (Toomer, 67).” Even while the African American individuals are together in an area where racism’s hold appears to be absent, Toomer subtly alludes to it with “white-walled buildings.” This is significant because it shows how strong the hold of racism is on African Americans. Even though the group of African Americans is present in a welcoming area, the white walls are a reminder of the racist social structure that still influences their lives. The white walls are and always will be present over them, …show more content…
Neglecting to acknowledge powerful societal structures allows them to negatively influence particular groups of people, ultimately becoming god-like. Despite racism heavily influencing African American’s in Cane, this is not the only societal structure that can act as a god. Feeding into racism, classism, sexism, etc. through actions, words, and spreading uninformed opinions leads particular groups towards inequality, discrimination, or marginalization. By doing so, these intangible social concepts develop a god-like force. The difference between physical entities that are god-like, or literally gods, and god-like social concepts lies in how to break their influence. Dealing with a physical being is more difficult to handle, especially if the being is actually a god, like Dionysus. Regarding social concepts, it is still difficult to break their influence, but it can be done. Being informed while not feeding in to societal stereotypes helps to break the influence. Seeing every citizen as an equally capable, functioning member of society is the goal; god-like social structures are the barriers that must be overcome through understanding and

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