Gothic Literature Personified by Melancholy/ Malady in Literature

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Gothic Literature Personified by Melancholy/ Malady in Literature (2005, The Netherlands) by Blerina Berberi

1. Introduction                                                                                  

2. On Melancholy                                                                             

2.1 Origins of Melancholy                                                 

            2.2 Renaissance and Melancholy                                    

            2.3 Melancholy and Intellect abilities                           

            2.4. Melancholy and the Sublime                                     

3. Renaissance’s Melancholy and Shakespeare                      

4. The Castle of Otranto, Hamlet and Melancholy                

5. Conclusion: Melancholy, Gothic and Modernism            

6. Bibliography                                                                                    


            The literature on melancholy began during antiquity with a study on melancholy as a human disease and further references to melancholy can be traced in literature. This research explores the subject of melancholy and its importance and suggests that this subject is widely borrowed, analyzed and transformed by Gothic literature. Therefore the research is organized basically in a chronological order of ideas and literary works. A clear understanding of the melancholic element in Gothic brings the necessity of creating a vocabulary on the symptoms and causes of melancholy. Since for melancholy has been a long ‘trip’ in literature, different periods might add or subtract some elements within it, but still the general conception of this disease, melancholy, is suggested of being strongly cemented in Gothic literature.

The following text gives an account on melancholy during different periods, through out the text melancholy is referred as being adust on the basis of the context where it is placed, and then is followed by an analysis on melancholy in Shakespeare’s works, especially Hamlet. Some selected comments of Walpole on the Castle of Otranto and his citing on Shakespeare will exhibit a clear indication of the melancholy relationship.

In the conclusion, as the title suggests and this is central to the paper, there is an explanation of how Gothic literature is embodied in it self by the melancholic humour, the characters and how the melancholic elements define Gothic literature as a genre and process.

2. Melancholy

2.1. Origins of Melancholy

Melancholy as a subject can be traced back in antiquity, in both Eastern and Western countries. The majority of texts on this subject suggest that melancholy is a disease of the body and/or soul. In general melancholy is considered, according to some authors, as a disease of the body that gives rise to the malady of the soul. Early studies suggest that melancholy is an:

“ …affection of the body caused by an excess of the humor known as a black bile”  (Mas, p. 26)

The black bile, which is a digestive juice secreted by the liver, is stored in the gallbladder and aids in digesting fats. It is also regarded of being responsible for creating humoral imbalance. During antiquity, the concern of the black bile rose upon the issues of humanistic science and was studied by both intellectuals and physicians, either it was studied as a disease of the soul or as a disease of the body. The link between melancholy and temperament is to be found in Aristotle’s texts, which consider melancholy as a feature of subject’s character where the humour black bile is predominant.

In a more detailed way, some other studies define melancholy on the basis of its symptoms. According to Hippocrates (c. 460-377 BC), melancholy is defined on the basis of two symptoms that this disease has:

“ When sadness and fear last for a long time, then it is melancholy” (Mas, p.27)

Thus the melancholy’s symptoms are fear and sadness but other authors state that there also some other symptoms regarding this disease. For example, Areteus (c. 150) states that melancholy is associated with sadness and grief. So far, sadness, fear and grief seem to resemble its symptoms.

Moreover, since melancholy is related to the subject’s character, the imbalance of the humours is also seen to cause disorders. The Pythagorean school states that different humans might manifest different behaviors and while some can be peaceful, others:

“…who are unbalanced because of excess of black bile scream, bother or hurt others, and are dangerous” (Mas, p.27)

Therefore the disease becomes of a more social concern since the melancholic character can be a danger to society. Also, melancholy results also in madness, dreamlike visions and other mental disorders such as also an absence of consciousness. Again, melancholic humours have abnormal thoughts and behavior and it can affect people in love when it becomes impossible.

Moreover, Chrisostomos (c. 380) writes about a monk affected by melancholy during his monastic life and describes the monk as:

“…suffering such as terrifying nightmares, speech disorders, fits, faints, unjustified feelings of hopelessness about his salvation and being tormented by a prompting to commit suicide” (Mas, p. 31)

Therefore, melancholy was seen as a mental confusion, madness, illusions, fear, anguish, disorders of consciousness that would be considered in nowadays as deep depression.

Also in East, where the Aristotle’s and other Hellenistic texts were available before were displayed in West, Muslim physicians dealt with the issue of melancholy. Ali Ibn Abbas (925- 982) in his Treatise on Melancholy considered melancholy as a disease affecting three faculties, imagination, reason and memory. In more details he states:

“Its psychic symptoms are anguish and sadness, worst disease of the soul. Sadness is the state of a subject who has lost and esteemed object, no matter what it is. Anguish is the state of one who fears misfortune” (Mas, p. 32)


2.2 Renaissance and Melancholy 

Around 1240, Aristotelian thoughts and comments on natural sciences became available to the Western Latin Christian world. These texts were the basic studies of the Renaissance. All the texts were translated mainly in the southern Italy, such as Sicily, where the concept of melancholy on personality and temperament were analyzed. Therefore, Aristotle’s ideas began to renew.

Renaissance is thus a period of revival. Among other concerns the problem of Evil and evil things in the world was of a peculiar interest in Renaissance. An exhausted literature on moral philosophy became the basis of characters for many authors, including even Shakespeare. The ideas of microcosmos in which man was considered of having certain elements that corresponded with the universe were widely spread and taken into consideration, most importantly the melancholy man and the balance of the four humours (blood, choler, phlegm, melancholy) who were vital for the melancholy humour. Two basic melancholic humours were accepted, the natural and the unnatural one. The causes of the natural humor can sometimes be traced, while as some believe, the unnatural humour is of no reason that can be found. A new element in the Renaissance related to the unnatural melancholy (adust) was the inordinate passion. Thomas Wright relates melancholy with inordinate passions and states:

“ …melancholy that is not retained in the spleen that it causes a “splentick fogge” to rise to the brain and destroy discretion, so that the brain passes on goblins to the heart, which acts in passion. This fog may work in various ways: it may cause apparitions to be wrought by apprehension of common sense, or it may cause fancy to forge disguised shapes, or it may cause memory to neglect other records and regard only the dark and sympathetic ones” (Campbell, p. 74).

Still, the most famous book during those times was the one by Robert Burton on the Anatomy of Melancholy in 1621. Briefly, Burton defines melancholy as bad disease that transforms man into a beast. As it is already mentioned above, the idea of melancholy of being associated with fear and sadness (grief, sorrow) without any apparent reason was also generally accepted in Renaissance. Again, reason is easily corrupted by imagination of the melancholic people. Burton also refers to some other authors that consider melancholy residing in different organs, such as liver, heart, brain, etc., and the melancholy humour is located in the person till the melancholy blood is cleansed. Furthermore, Burton accepts the Pythagorean’s school ideas that the symptoms are:

 “…either universal or particular…to persons, to species” (Burton, p.325).

The symptoms of this malady, disease depend on the humour complexion of hot/cold and dry, thus more or less adust.  Here is a distinction between natural and non-natural melancholy (adust) where the second produces madness due to hot complexions of the character, while the first is cold and creates a gentled dotage that is a mental infirmity as a consequence of old age and sometimes shown by foolish infatuations. In natural melancholy memory is considered to be in good conditions and these people might have very good apprehensions and are characterized by dullness, laziness, laugh, etc. But in melancholy adust, there is no clear reason of its cause, where the brain is hot and dry people do not sleep, and if the person’s organs are affected by this disease then there are prisoners of Incubus, Apoplexy, Epilepsy, Vertigo and have terrible dreams, sweat a lot, and their senses deceive them. Also, the passions of these characters are stronger and violent compared to those of the natural melancholy. Moreover, through the work of Devil they do imagine things and communicate with ghosts and apparitions.

Other types of melancholy, such as the one proceeded from phlegm produces asinine melancholy and the character is dull, stupid, wanderous, sleepy, and meditative. If it proceeds from blood adust then these characters are pleasant, fanciful, and always laughing. Some refer to this type of melancholy as the one that Aristotle mentioned that is of a certain magnitude to be found in philosophers, poets, prophets, etc. Also, when it proceeds from choler/melancholy adust these characters are:

“…furious, impatient in discourse, stiff, irrefragabile, and prodigious in their tenents;…most violent, outrageous, ready to disgrace, provoke any, to kill themselves and others…” (Burton, p. 341)

These symptoms are sometimes considered as being inflicted by the Devil. Most importantly, the role of passions in melancholy is also of a significant one. Therefore, Renaissance thoughts on melancholy do resemble the opinions of previous authors but another factor, in this case inordinate passion became the cause of melancholy and all its consequent symptoms. Furthermore, this disease became focused on the study of passions, which engender melancholy, and passions themselves began to be regarded as a new disease of interest to be studied.

Another issue was that of the intellect abilities being related to Devil’s work, and which are thought in general to lead man into madness. This led a new study area.


2.3 Melancholy and Intellect

A new problem, which was based on Aristotle’s texts, evolved studies around the issue of melancholy and intellectual abilities of the melancholic characters. On the issue of Intelligence, Burton states that not always melancholy is demoniacal but usually people are sad and fearful but still, not always.

In Renaissance, a lot of physicians and intellectuals, including Leonardo da Vinci, dealt with the issue of melancholy. It was widely spread that melancholy is a disease that ‘gives birth’ to bad thoughts and sadness for no apparent reason.  But still, a new line of studying melancholy fell under the heading of Problem XXX and it was related to an analysis of melancholic characters that had certain abilities in philosophy, divination, and rare languages without actually having any kind of previous knowledge about these faculties.

Moreover, the melancholy that was related to intellectual abilities in general was considered as a disease caused by devil and Renaissance also referred to Saint Jerome (342- 420) who wrote in loyalty to the monks, that the melancholic humour is a consequence of people possessed by the devil. Also Greek and Arab physicians shared the same view about devil’s interference in those people who would make prophecies and interpret dreams. Thus, melancholy was mostly accepted as opening the door to the devil, since they thought that the black bile was an interference of the devil in the body and soul. As some accepted the idea that melancholy may influence and alter the intellect, others rejected this theory by stating that melancholy leads to degradation of the intellect. 

To sum up, the declaration of melancholy as a disease appears to have been studied many centuries back in antiquity. The main discussions until the Renaissance evolved around the symptoms of the disease and some of its causes. Throughout Renaissance the basic assumptions of melancholy were still prominent but a further association of melancholy with passions became more apparent. Thus apart from considering melancholy as a malady affecting body and/or soul, passions were also weighted in infusing melancholy. The distinction between melancholy and melancholy adust, can be seen as a classification and ordering of previous medical or philosophical studies on melancholy. Therefore, the ‘two types’ of melancholy built up the following features:

1.Natural Melancholy: characterized by excess of the humour by the black bile. Melancholy is related to sadness, grief, sorrow, anguish, and disorder of the reason, imagination and memory at some extent. Memory is possible to be in good condition, and people can have still a good apprehension of things, but are dull, lazy, fancy, but is also regarded sometimes as being of an artistic talent for poets, philosophers, etc. 

2.Unnatural Melancholy (Melancholy adust): A clear reason cannot be easily defined, the extreme type of the natural melancholy whose symptoms are screaming, bothering, becoming a danger to others and own self, madness, dreamlike visions, lost of consciousness, nightmares, speech disorders, fits, faints, suicide tendencies, feeling of hopelessness, apparitions, loss of memory, remembrance of dark memories, disguised shapes, turns men to a beast, galvanizes into Incubus, Apoplexy, Epilepsy, Vertigo, deception of senses, violent, outrages, prodigious, still, irrefragabile, its an open door to the devil. Also inordinate passion is believed in Renaissance as engendering this type of melancholy.

3.Intellectual Melancholy: it is accepted that a certain amount of a melancholic humour, Aristotle and Burton, is possible to generate certain artistic/ intellectual skills but in most cases intellectual abilities are possible “virtues” offered by the Devil.  


2.4. Melancholy and the Sublime  

            After establishing a ‘vocabulary’ on melancholy it is important to analyze some gothic elements with that of melancholy. Melancholy and the role of passions were very much discussed during Renaissance, Elizabethan times, in the 16th century, England and later on. Also, Edmund Burke in his work in 1757, A Philosophical Enquiry into the origin of our ideas of the sublime and beautiful, resembles some gothic elements. Furthermore, it is stated that:

“The presentation of ideas in Part II has sometimes encouraged a ‘checklist’ approach in relating Burke’s theory to works of Gothic fiction” (Clery & Miles, p. 112).

Part II of his work is centered by the sublime and rounded by self-preservation, terror, fear, imagination, etc. Burke makes a distinction between the sublime and beauty, where the later is opposed to the former. On one side, beauty is related to pleasure, untroubled society and reproduction while on the other side the sublime is associated with pain and delight, terror, danger, self- preservation, etc. Furthermore, Burke goes on with the definition of the sublime and he states:

“Whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain, and danger, that is to say, whatever is in any sort terrible, or is conversant about terrible objects, or operates in a manner analogous to terror, is a source of the sublime…it is productive of the strongest emotion which the mind is capable” (Clery & Miles, p.113)

First of all the idea of beauty seems to be the opposing side of melancholy. Melancholy was considered as a ‘bad seed’ in a society and it can be stated that since the ideas against the sublime were those of beauty, which also in the case of Renaissance and Elizabethan times consisted on order and harmony, then melancholy seems to be comparable with the sublime.  It can also be seen that by replacing the word ‘sublime’ in the above quote, with the word melancholy still the quote would make sense. That is because the melancholic humour is prey of terror, danger, mental disorders, anguish, imagination, disguised shapes, dreamlike visions, etc. But for a closer relation between melancholy and the sublime let’s see some other features of the sublime.

Burke goes on stating that the sublime foreruns our reasoning and makes us act impatiently while being driven by a tempting force. This is the case also with melancholy, where the melancholic humour is believed of loosing consciousness, reason, and can be driven by the supernatural, which in this case this would be the tempting force. Also the passion of fear, Burke believes, diminishes the mind and reasoning and it causes wonder, astonishment and a feeling of sublime. He refers to goblins and ghosts as affecting our minds due to the passion of fear and relates the darkness of occurring events, such as temples, with the feeling of worship and sublime. Apart from these, Burke also defines the sublime as an uncertainty of describing certain things that can be caused by our imagination. The sublime is somehow similar to melancholy. The melancholic humour and especially at melancholy adust (unnatural) can be fearful to, and astonished by the supernatural, and thus be accompanied by a feeling of sublime. For example, witchcraft was believed during Renaissance (also by Shakespeare) as being practiced by melancholic people, who believed in the supernatural and their worship included violence and terror at different levels, and was mostly placed in dark places either in nature at night or in closed and dark ambiances. Again focusing on the uncertainty that these are exposed, indicates the similarity between the sublime and melancholy. The melancholic humor either being caused by the excess of the black bile, or inordinate passion, fear, sorrow, grief, etc., is still characterized of being in loss of consciousness and believing in apparitions, ghosts, goblins, etc. 

Burke, also relates power with the sublime, terror, strength, harm and states:

“That power derives all its sublimity from the terror with which it is generally accompanied, will appear evidently from its effect in the very few cases, in which it may be possible to strip a considerable degree of strength of its ability to hurt” (Clery & Miles, p. 116-117)

Therefore, as power is considered of being sublime while it is accompanied by terror its effect is that of causing harm. Also the melancholic character, as earlier mentioned, is considered to be a danger to him/her self and the society. The power of the melancholic humour is that of causing harm to themselves or others and it sublimity can be derived from the acquisition of the supernatural phenomena that can be troublesome, cause terror and astonishment due to madness, frenzy, inordinate passion, etc. Burke also refers to melancholy as an evil thing but relates its causes with a restful physical state and says:

“Melancholy, dejection, despair, and often self-murder, is the consequence of the gloomy view we take of things in this relaxed state of the body” (Clery & Miles, p.120).

Burke, like others including Burton, is concerned about these ‘diseases’ and suggests that the healing of these evil things, in this case also melancholy, is labour because labour and the work of muscles is a mode of pain. Contrary to this, Burton suggested that a better acquaintance, friendship, family, school and society would be helpful for curing the melancholic humour.

In summary, Burke’s theory on the sublime, which refers to gothic fiction, seems to be similar to that of melancholy. Both, the sublime and melancholy are exposed to violence, disorders or reason and passions, such as fear, and danger. Therefore since Burke’s theory is used as a ‘checklist’ for gothic fiction, also melancholy would fit in the same position.  Now, let’s continue with a chronological study of melancholy.


3. Renaissance’s Melancholy and Shakespeare 

Renaissance as a period was a rebirth of classic literature and architectural order. The availability of Aristotle’s and other philosopher’s texts around 1240 in Italy brought the revival and the reconsideration of many social, political, economical and above all human characters’ matters. The dichotomy of reason and passion, led to an extensive classification and order for a secured peace and prosperous advance. Also, the Elizabethan age (around 1558- 1603), according to Tillyard, was characterized by an obsession with order and ordinate passion. The categorization of human character was based on the Renaissance humours, and were deeply analyzed for their affects. Thus, the melancholy character was seen as a disease of a man of inordinate passion, whose imbalance of characters would threaten a pre-established order.  Sins and virtues were highly discussed while trying to establish a human law, which they considered to be harmonious. The fear of chaos is resembled in the study of the melancholic character, which is thought of endangering the order.

Shakespeare’s works and especially his tragedies are most of the times analyzed for his geniality sometimes in a symbolical or semantic context, which relates social, political, sexual, etc., concerns of his times. Nevertheless, Shakespeare’s knowledge and the variety of characters nourish a new study path of the characters and their character or temperament. Thus, it is important to notice that since a heated discussion on the melancholy man (specifically melancholy adust character) was of concern in moral philosophy and science, Shakespeare exhausts the human character in different circumstances by raising not an immediate objection to the character, and this should be the first and main element of his works where all the supernatural issues in the later literature (early Gothic) refer to. More explicitly, as it is known the melancholy adust is considered to be a disease, is put into question in Shakespeare’s works. The melancholic characters in his works are acquainted with ghosts, do have problems of memory, passion, reason, and will but the supernatural appears to offer truth at certain situations in his plays. Lets take a look at Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet.

Hamlet, the prince of Denmark, is of the melancholy humour. He is acquainted in the beginning of the story with the ghost of his dead father, the former King, and the ghost tells him about the cause of his father’s death. Hamlet is considered a lunatic by Claudius and Hamlet’s behavior is not of a normal person that is why his uncle, the new King and the new husband of his mother, states after seeing the failure of Hamlet’s admittance to Ophelia’s love:

King Claudius: Love! His affections do not that way tend;

Nor what he spake, though it lack’d form a little,

Was not like madness. There’s something in his soul,

O’er which his melancholy sits on brood;

And I do doubt that hatch and the disclose

Will be some danger: which for to prevent,

I have in quick determination

Thus set it down: he shall with speed to England…

Act 3, Scene 1. 175-180

As the King acknowledges, Hamlet is pray of melancholy (adust) and he is considered to be of a danger for the others. And this states as in this case that a negative attitude toward the melancholic character was taken during Shakespeare’s times. But apart from that some other parts of Hamlet’s character should be taken into account. First, the story of the ghost challenges Hamlet’s mood and belief. Still, he is not sure of believing in it. Thus he states:

    But I am pigeon- liver’d and lack gall

To make oppression bitter, or ere this…

I know my course. The spirit I have seen

May be the devil: and the devil hath power

To assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps

Out of my weakness and my melancholy,

As he is very potent with such spirits,

Abuses me to damn me: I’ll have grounds

More relative than this: the play’s the thing

Wherein I’ll  catch the conscience of the king.

Act 2, Scene 2, 580-2 & 603-610

Hamlet says to himself that it is not possible that he might be of a melancholy adust humour since he declares that he lacks the gall running through his liver that causes melancholy. Still he acknowledges that the devil can have an easy access in human’s humour through melancholy and considers it as a possibility, therefore he wants to prove the story by preparing a play for the King.

Thus melancholy seems to be of a positive aspect on Hamlet side most of the times. For example, his love letter’s to Ophelia are of a powerful imagination and sensation, his knowledge in literature and plays is a high level, his preparations for the play that was shown to the King defines his talent, and his conversations with the grave diggers and other characters represent Hamlet as an intellectual man. Thus Hamlet in ‘possession’ of the melancholy adust humour appears to have certain intellectual abilities, which actually aren’t part of a devil’s work. Furthermore, the belief in the ghost’s story, which is a true one, as Claudius states in his monologue while praying one night, contradicts the Renaissance ideas on the discussion of ghosts as deceiving people about truth. Some other features of Hamlet that do correspond with the wide spread notions of melancholy adust is his forgetfulness of Ophelia and his rough attitude toward his mother, king, friends, etc. Also, others regard Hamlet in the play, including his mother, of no cause of melancholy and as being ruled by madness and lunacy. Again the appearance of the ghost in his Gertrude’s room, whom she doesn’t see, can be seen as a sign of Hamlet’s frenzy and madness.

Another reference in Shakespeare’s work, clearly indicates his knowledge and concern about melancholy, its symptoms, and origins. Contrary to what might have been considered throughout Elizabethan times, melancholy in the following passage seems to emphasize the wide range of melancholy types and the distinction of a personal melancholy, which is stated to be a recollection of bits of experience accompanied with an attitude of sad feelings.

            William Shakespeare: “As You Like It”, act 4, scene 1, line 4.

Jaq. I have neither the scholar’s melancholy, which is emulation,

Nor the musician’s, which is fantastical,

Nor the courtier’s, which is proud,

Nor the soldier’s, which is ambitious,

Nor the lawyer’s, which is politic,

Nor the lady’s, which is nice,

Nor the lover’s, which is all these:

But it is a melancholy of mine own,

Compounded of many simples,

Extracted from many objects

And indeed the sundry’s contemplation of my travels,

In which my often rumination wraps me in a most humorous sadness.

In summary, Shakespeare in his works seem to challenge to some extent the definition of melancholy as a disease, by indicating the supernatural as important in the deriving of truth and knowledge. By looking at Hamlet in another perspective, the play shows the attitude of the characters of the play around Hamlet, considering him as a melancholic, dangerous, not virtuous in love, lunatic, and of an abnormal behavior. But what Hamlet appears to be later in the play, is his intelligent side even though at some degree melancholic and forgetful to his Ophelia, but decided to follow the path that led to the finding of the truth, which in the play is the cause of death of his father. Still, through out the play Hamlet’s humour and passions are sometimes unbalanced, and that’s where his melancholy adust humour makes other wonder about the cause of the disease. The variety of characters, also refers to the role of passions in melancholy, where different characters being under the melancholic humour, can be intelligent, sad, grief, mad, screaming (Hamlet at Gertrude and Ophelia), sluggish sometimes, such as Gertrude, can commit suicide due to impossible love, as Ophelia, can kill others due to their ambition, as King Claudius, or can have disordered the faculties of reason, as Hamlet refers to Gertrude, etc.

Finally, the role of melancholy adust and its relation to passions can be traced in Shakespeare’s works, not only in Hamlet but also in Macbeth, King Lear, Othello, etc., and the consideration of melancholy and supernatural as not always of being a bad disease. That is why it is suggested that this turn in the notion of melancholy by Shakespeare might have influenced a lot of works in the early Gothic literature.  


4. The Castle of Otranto, Hamlet and Melancholy

            The Castle of Otranto, published in 1764, in its prefaces written by Walpole refers to the novel as being penetrated by the supernatural phenomena, and defines it as a gothic novel. Furthermore in his Preface to the First Edition, he states:

“Miracles, visions, necromancy, dreams, and other preternatural events, are exploded now even from romances” (Walpole, p.7)

The supernatural events occurring in the novel, refer to the appearance of the ghost in the castle such as that of Alfonso the Good, Manfred’s grandfather coming out of a painting, the gigantic helmet, the skeleton praying in the church, the sound of the plumes of the helmet, the blood coming out of Alfonso’s sculpture, etc. Apart from referring to the supernatural character of this novel, Walpole also refers to the geniality of the novel, and he states: 

“…conduct of the passions is masterly” (Walpole, p.8) and “…never lose sight of their human character” (Walpole, p. 11)

The admiration of Walpole on this novel falls under the headlines of supernatural, passion and human character. During this period the classicist movement in literature favored rationality, restraint and strict forms. Walpole, also an antiquarian, opposes classicism and refers to the human character as being unbalanced by passions and the supernatural. Moreover, the connection between the Castle of Otranto and Shakespeare seem to be found in the revival and the deep analysis on melancholy and issues concerning authors about this type of humor whose symptoms are adequately mentioned by Walpole, the supernatural and reality. Apart from this, Walpole advocates of being a follower of Shakespeare’s works, not only of their supernatural element but also of the humour attached at certain character’s in the play whose features being posted on heroic figures, Walpole believes, would have loosened the magnificence of Shakespeare’s plays.

Melancholy is even introduced by Walpole in his Sonnet to Lady Mary Cook, and he writes:

 “THE gentle maid, whose hapless tale

These melancholy pages speak”(Walpole, p. 16)

Here, Walpole already defines the character of the novel as being melancholic. This hint would have given people with some knowledge on the melancholic humour, already an apprehension of how the following story will be like. In the novel, the first element of being encountered is the fall of the gigantic helmet. As also in Hamlet, in the beginning of the play a supernatural event happens, such as the appearance of the ghost in Hamlet’s case. But while Hamlet is more explicit in his monologue the character of Manfred is seen more in interaction with other characters in the play. Thus Hamlet can be understood more clearly than Manfred since Manfred can also be thought of faking in his relations to other characters in the novel. Manfred’s behavior is described as being quickly agitated and frantic. In the beginning, after his son died by the fall of the gigantic helmet, he accused Theodore, who thought that the helmet was the one of Alfonso the Good, of being a necromancer, magician, and sorcerer. This is the first time in the novel where people found Manfred of insulting Theodore and believed that his decision on revenging him was “ill-grounded”. Therefore, at this stage the attitude and behavior of Manfred is seen as being abnormal, and without a reason by the rest of the other characters in the text. This is a sign of melancholy adust, and Manfred can be compared to Hamlet so far, about whom everybody thought that madness and fury had usurped them without a reason, apart from taking into consideration Hamlet’s death of his father and Manfred’s death of his son. Furthermore, Manfred is seen as being guided by the highly dangerous passions:

“ Pride, ambition, and his reliance on ancient prophecies, which had pointed out a possibility of his preserving them to his posterity, combated that thought”         (Walpole, p. 70)

According to King James, as Campbell states, pride and ambition are considered to be the characteristics of devil. Therefore as soon as a character is presented of aiming at pride and ambition, the future is already written, and that is destruction of ones’ or others’ selves. Also, since Hamlet dies in the end of tragedy, if he is considered of being driven by ambition and pride, since he thought he was the son of an unfair mother and of a treated father by his brother, then Hamlet’s death can be related to these two passions and walk aside with Manfred’s character.

Manfred’s believes on ancient prophecies is kind of comparable to Hamlet. Hamlet also believes immediately to the ghost’s story, but his friend Horatio tells him to be careful. But latter Hamlet makes an effort of analyzing the reaction of King Claudius to his written play, whose plot was similar to his father’s death circumstances. But Manfred, who believes to the ancient prophecies about the continuance of his future generations in the castle, is still shaken by the moving portrait painting of his grandfather and he questions himself if that’s a sign of devil against him. Furthermore, in the novel the portrait is formed of characteristics, which Manfred related to devils’ work:

“He saw it quit its panel and descended on the floor with a grave and melancholy air”(Walpole, p. 23)

This is similar to Hamlet’s doubt as it is cited earlier in this paper. Both admit that the devil is related to melancholy and reanalyze them selves if there is any possibility of being at melancholy, thus opening the door to the devil.

Another feature of melancholy in Manfred is his attitude toward his wife Hippolita. Persistent of having a new son through marrying Isabella, who was supposed to marry his son, Manfred calls Isabella to meet him in his chamber, and asks her to marry him. Isabella is paranoid and remembers him of his wife Hippolita. Manfred says: “Curse on Hippolita!” (Walpole, p.22). So, Manfred at melancholy adust, at certain moments when his passions are unbalanced, can be seen as suffering a loss of memory and reason when he tells Isabella to forget about his wife since he has already divorced her.

Love and jealousy are also to be found in the novel but they are, as Renaissance holds, imprisoned by a passion unguided by virtue and thus it engenders melancholy adust. Burton also stated that when a passionate love is not guided by virtue then jealousy derives and it can lead to murder of the others’ or one’s self. So, Manfred being at a melancholy humour at a certain moment produced by the jealousy of the ‘relationship’ between Theodore and Isabella kills his daughter Matilda accidentally. Thus his melancholy character, passing through an unbalanced humour of being inflicted by an inordinate passion led to the murder of his daughter. Hamlet as of not being interested in another woman apart from Ophelia is of no relation to Manfred at this point. But the attitude toward the closest friends and family, in Hamlet as in Manfred seems to be at some points comparable. Hamlet after his acquaintance with the ghost turns his back to Ophelia, and denies his love to her. Also, Manfred at a very touchy part of the novel is described not bearing the moment when Matilda before dying took her parents hands and clasped them to her heart:

“ Manfred could not support this act of pathetic piety” (Walpole, p.77)

As Hamlet, did ridiculed Ophelia’s love in one act, Manfred shows the same character as though both expressing that there are in no need of any help or affection.

In general, Hamlet is described as being at times intelligent, lovely, passionate, reasonable, etc also Manfred is stated to be:

“…his virtues were always ready to operate, when his passions did not obscure his reason” (Walple, 27)

Hamlet and Manfred are both placed in castles and confronted with ghosts and supernatural phenomena. Their character is of melancholy and it affects the whole atmosphere and people. From one perspective, Hamlet is a virtuous man who seeks truth and in his trip to knowledge he is confronted with ghosts, and his melancholy character affects the people around him and brings their death. Manfred is also of some virtues but his passions, ambition and pride, are so inordinate that the whole story of terror is caused by his humour. Both characters seem to be similar at melancholy, but on different levels of adust, and their passions and acquaintance with supernatural phenomena cause an unbalanced humour that causes terror and death of their relatives.

            Melancholy can be traced in most of Shakespeare’s plays, such as Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, etc., and also in the  Castle of Otranto. Shakespeare aware of melancholy as a disease caused by biological, supernatural intervention or passions, gives and with his works challenged the supernatural effect on humans. As in Hamlet the ghost is a ‘good’ ghosts who spoke the truth so that the supernatural element becomes of a positive connotation. Still, concerns about passions as engendering melancholy, in rough lines led to the Truth by the intervention of the unrealistic, are not as much objected to the aim of Truth but to the consequences in humans. Also, Botting in his comments on the Castle of Otranto states:

“…The Castle of Otranto…the novel appears as a text that examines the limitations of reason, virtue and honor in the regulation of passions, ambitions and violence…” (Botting, p.53)

Therefore, there is a clear similarity of the elements worked through by both, Shakespeare and Walpole. Furthermore, as justice in Hamlet is done by the melancholic character of taking into consideration the supernatural, also in the Castle of Otranto, supernatural events are responsible of setting justice among the living:

“…evocations of terror and superstition can be seen to advocate a sense of awe at supernatural power and its restitution to justice,” (Botting, p.52)

Moreover, as Shakespeare is characterized by a study of the melancholy humour, which was revived in Renaissance from antiquity, also the Castle of Otranto has the same origins or the same references. Walpole has followed the same path by publishing in 1764, a literary text regarding melancholy, its disorders, symptoms, passions, etc. And as Botting states:

“The pleasures of horror and terror came from the reappearance of figures long gone” (Botting, p.3)

Finally, the elements of melancholy including its affects and effects can be traced at different magnitudes in Shakespeare and Walpole. Both do refer to certain classes of society and certain humours and analyze melancholy as part of the human character where the supernatural is an important element.


5. Conclusion: Melancholy, Gothic and Modernism

            The study of the disease, known as melancholy, has followed a chronological long analysis on the subject and its becoming of most importance is explicitly to be found in Gothic literature. Shakespeare was supported for the supernatural element, and this is the element that Walpole, with his Castle of Otranto, thought of referring to. Actually, the supernatural during Shakespeare’s times was considered of being associated with melancholy. Melancholy adust humour was responsible for the appearance of such supernatural elements, and most of the times it was thought that melancholic people were connected to Devil, or that melancholy was an open door to the Devil. Most importantly, the relation between melancholy and intellect as Aristotle and Burton advocate is of un undefined causes, but it is accepted as existing in poets and other artists.

According to Lancelot Whyte, during the 18th century there was an increased interest in dreams and he states:

“[f]rom the eighteenth century onward growing interest was shown not only in the normal rhythms of consciousness (sleep, dreams, reveries, etc.) but also in unusual pathological states (fainting, ecstasy, hypnosis, hallucinations, dissociations, drugged conditions, epilepsy, forgetfulness, etc.) and in processes underlying ordinary thought (imagination, judgment, selection, diagnosis, interest, sympathy, etc.)”  (Clemens, p. 25)

Again, the whole concern stated in the paragraph above has to do with the symptoms of melancholy, but the turn in Gothic of this character, by somehow referring to Shakespeare, reconciled the bad connotation of melancholy into as most often to be found in Gothic literature, with the necessity and reliability of the supernatural, thus the melancholic humour.

According to Foucault, (ref. Miles, R.) the literature of the 18th century was characterized by ‘nostalgia’. Foucault states that during this period of crisis the revival of some texts, belonging to a revival of an earlier vanished period, was done on the purpose for a recognition of difference in the past and would really present the human character which was ignored or better saying objected during Renaissance. He also states about this period:

“Madness was no longer of the order of nature or of the Fall, but of a new order, in which men began to have a presentiment of history, and where there formed, in an obscure originating relationship, the ‘alienation’ of the physicians and the ‘alienation’ of the philosophers” (Foucault, p.220)

Foucault states that the fate of history and madness are linked. And the modern attitude toward madness has its origins in Renaissance. Thus modernity as Renaissance and Elizabethan age do oppose madness, which implies melancholy. But during its development Gothic literature did absorb ‘madness’ which in other terms would mean melancholy.

Foucault, famous of his discourse theory, defines the relationship between knowledge and power and is interested in the study of how knowledge, truth and power are dependent on the discourse. And Gothic, presenting the voice of the repressed and rejected melancholy character, was rejected by modernity due to its negation of dissolving into modernity. Thus Gothic is opposed to the power and knowledge of modernity but also, according to Foucault, it forms its own power and knowledge throughout its discourse.

Furthermore, the change in the narrative shows that melancholy in Gothic became of one perspective, and it had to be analyzed as detached from pre-established rules regarding passion, rationality, order, etc. According to Botting:

“…Gothic fiction can be said to blur rather than distinguish the boundaries that regulated social life, and inrrogate, rather than restore, any imagined continuity between the past and present, nature and culture, reason and passion, individuality and family and society” (Botting, p. 47)

The blurring of the boundaries of Gothic fiction is a characteristic of the melancholic humour. As melancholy is the door to supernatural, terror, sadness, grief, unreason, madness, unconsciousness, even power of intellect, it challenges the boundaries of truth and reality.

In conclusion, the concern of this disease called melancholy appeared through many centuries and is still discussed even in nowadays and sometimes even referring to business corporations and strategies. Since Gothic is considered of representing the voice of the repressed and is also referred to the ‘destructive element’ of itself or society, still literature on economy and businesses can be found where the term melancholy is used to describe certain attitudes and inclinations of businesses similar to that of melancholy explained here. Also Marx ideas on the class struggle and alienation seem to resemble those views of Gothic, in relation to the opposition of technological, capitalist and social changes in the 18th century. But still, early studies such as those of Aristotle and then Burton, were concerned about the disease since they thought it can affect the whole society and bring chaos in the established orders of reality and truth and the same ideas were also shared in the emerging of the Gothic literature and may hold in our contemporary times.  Later Shakespeare, who considered melancholy as a key to the truth, heightened the disease, whose symptoms were feared for many centuries. Thereafter Gothic literature embodied the nature of melancholy by a nostalgic attitude toward the old texts whose elements were of supernatural character and switched the power of literature on the melancholic side. Most interesting, all types of melancholy are to be found in every Gothic text, where the characteristics of both Gothic literature and characters are those of different types of melancholy and that is the explanation of finding the same elements in both contexts. Walpole took another step forward and made explicit the fruitfulness of melancholy on the trip to the Truth:

“The dead have exhausted the power of deceiving” (Watt, p.38)



– Botting, Fred, Gothic, The New Critical Idiom, Taylor and Francis, New York, 1996

– Burton, Robert, Anatomy of Melancholy, New York: Tudor 1927

– Campbell, Lily B., Shakespeare’s Tragic Heroes, Slaves of Passion, Gloucester, Mass, Peter           Smith, 1973

– Clemens, Valdine, The Return of the Repressed, State University of New York, 1999.

– Clery, E. J. and Miles, Robert, Gothic document,  A source book 1700-1820, Manchester University Press, New York, 2000

– Mas, Antonio Contreras, Libro de la Melancholia by Andres Velazques (1585),  Part 1 & 2. The intellectual origins of the book & Its context and importance,, History of Psychiatry, 14/1&2, 025-040, 179-193, SAGE Publications.

– Miles, Robert, Gothic Writing, 1750-1820, A Genealogy, Manchester University Press, New York, sec.ed., 2002

– Staunton, Howard, The Globe. Illustrated Shakespeare, The Complete Works Annotated, Gramercy Books, 1979.

– Tillyard, E.M.W, The Elizabethan World Picture, Pimlico, 1998

– Foucault, M., Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason, trans. Richard Howard, Rpt. London,1967

– Walpole, Horace, The Castle of Otranto in Four Gothic Novels, Oxford University Press New York, 1994

– Watt, James, Contesting The Gothic, Fiction, Genre and Cultural Conflict, 1764- 1832, Cambridge University Press, 1999


Street “Auras” in a City’s Museum

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Street “Auras” in a City’s Museum (October, 2005 The Netherlands) by Blerina Berberi

Based on the recent issue in Florence regarding the damage of public sculptures, this research discusses the importance of preserving art and culture, conservation, the context of the museum, authenticity of artworks and deliberates some controversies in the discipline. Our beloved world has many places of attraction. Among them, cities, museums, galleries and other arts centers are the main tourists’ contemplation sites. Yet, as everything made in time ceases to exist in the future, a special attention is displayed toward the conservation and preservation of our culture, arts and any other tangible or intangible upbringings of our heritage.
All these “goods” are either publicly or privately exhibited in various locations. However, artists through out their times, commissioned by whoever, have considered public spaces where parts of our daily life mingle, as suitable settings for their artworks. Thus, cities, like Florence, are more than just nice to visit for their artworks in museums, galleries and other places, but also offer the freedom of having a coffee at the piazza and looking at sculptures of great masters, where some authentic or others not. Nevertheless, time, forces of humans and nature deteriorate the quality of artworks in public streets. But what has to be done to preserve this heritage, or first, why should we?

1. The Value of Arts and Culture
Cultural goods are associated with our human beliefs, attitude, values, etc., and other reasons which render these artistic products, not just merely as decorations but as something more. Nevertheless, states, societies, human history, etc., are made distinguishable or narrated in such cultural and artistic products. Apart from being inspired by these goods, it can also be the case that some classes claim a status by possessing any of them. The reason is that cultural goods are part of the economy and market, thus are often converted in financially profitable assets and not
to forget most of them aren’t cheap to buy.
Some economists, like Throsby, state that values of cultural goods, such as aesthetics, spirituality, history etc, can be seen in economic terms as primarily profitable. Throsby states that artworks are the cultural capital of a nation or the world so they do have public-good characteristics. But they can be also seen as financial assets, such as a store of wealth, etc. He also claims that future consumption of cultural goods is dependent on the present satisfaction and the accumulation of knowledge and experience in arts and culture. Also culturalists, like Klamer, acknowledge that cultural goods provide not just pleasure but also income. Klamer states that investments in culture are always supported by the argument of the increase of tourism thus generate profit. However, he explicitly claims that cultural goods function best in spheres, unlike market, where the valuation is primarily social and cultural.
Therefore, cultural values, which are distinct from economic ones, stand higher than any monetary value being flogged at Christie’s. Furthermore, even though the interpretations of many cultural goods may change, we still want to preserve some of these goods, as consisting part of our human identity. What about Florence?

Florence is the city of admiration of great works of art, both outdoors and indoors. Recent stories tell that a man who climbed the 16th century Neptune, by Bartolomeo Ammanati, just to have a picture, broke the hand of the sculpture standing at Piazza della Signora. Also other works by Bernini and Sansovino have been deteriorated by human actions. Yet the protection of artworks in public locations is not always possible, as costless. Public sculptures in Florence, were intended to stay out in the streets. But the modern theories of conservation and pacts signed for the protection of the past heritage require the preservation of such artworks in different settings. Why? Because there are of great importance, they give the identity to the city, country, society and its past. From the cultural aspect they are also part of humanity’s creation, by which internationals are delighted and ready to visit these places, eventually generating financial profit for everyone involved in arts with such assumptions. So how do we conserve, slow the deterioration process of the public art in Florence? A 24/7 surveillance is highly expensive, thus some artworks have to be displayed indoors, such as in public museum, while in the mean time replicas will be standing in the place of the authentic works.

2. Conservation as Displacement
Documentaries of mummies being preserved in museums present the same case as in Florence. The displacement of artworks for preservation is important because they hold our cultural values and as the Venice Charter, 1964, Article 3, states monuments should be restored and conserved in order to keep them safe not just for aesthetic purpose but also for historical evidence4. Thus great masters’ sculptures in Florence are not just beautiful and attractive but they also indicate certain individuals, movements, beliefs and more specifically the history of the Renaissance period that we all want to remind and contemplate on. However, Article 7 states: “A monument is inseparable… from the setting in which it occurs. The moving of all or part of a monument cannot be allowed except where the safeguarding of that monument demands it or where it is justified by national or international interest of paramount importance.”
So far, according to the International Charter for Conservation, Florence’s art that remains unprotected in the streets would be legally allowed to move in public museums. But what about artists’, and commissioners’, intention? Their works were primarily displayed in the streets so their artworks would publicly be admired in the streets of Florence. But, as mentioned also earlier on, the artists during Renaissance have had not a great concern for the deterioration of the sculptures apart from choosing the best everlasting material for the work, since the theories on conservation are quite modern. Also, Wetering, states that being aware of artists’ wishes and intention, does not mean that conservation has a not certain autonomy which is independent from artists’ intention. He states that we’ll never understand completely the truth about the artist’s intentions, therefore in this case in order to protect the authentic works, which are being damaged, looted, decreasing in number, some sculptures would have to move indoors. But what are the consequences or litigations related to such a displacement from the context?

3. Streets and Museum Space
Like the streets of Florence, art museums preserve our historical and cultural memory, values and truths. Apart from that, museums have also different departments in conservation, preservation techniques, ethics, etc. Nevertheless, changing the context of an artwork is also considered as changing the meaning and/ or perception of the work. Shifting from the streets to the museums, there is a difference. Both locations represent our cultural values, yet in different ways. Therefore, the placements of Florence’s sculptures in the museum in not just a storage where things behind glass are exhibited. So will Florence’s 16th century street sculptures be perceived differently in the public museum? Carol Duncan considers the act of visiting a museum as a ritual, and the museum itself the place where the individual enacts the ritual. She states that art museums resemble places like temples, and some of them even have the façade of Greek temples. Furthermore, she claims that even the interior, such as niches, of museums the interior is designed with more space and exclusivity to artworks in order to emphasize contemplation on each work. Nevertheless, different rules are set in museums where some behaviors, as speaking out loud, are not tolerated. According to Victor Turner, what we experience in a museum is liminiality, which is a “betwixt-and-between the normal, day-to-day cultural and social states and processes of getting and spending”. Therefore, we head for different feelings to artworks in a museum due to the mental state that is formed in this space. Also others have referred to the museum as the place where “time is suspended”. Moreover, Edmond Leach stated “…every culture mounts some symbolic effort to contradict the irreversibility of time and its end result of death”. So Duncan concludes that Leach is right, since our ritual in visiting museums reflects the same concern by way of contemplation of the cultural goods in a suspended time.
The role of the museum and its impact on the observer has produced different theories, and among them it is frequently stated that museums are places where we all have a sense of enlightenment. Be it historical data or just some beautiful sculptures, observers are always enlightened not just by the information but also form the emotional experience inside the museum. Consequently, if Florence’s sculptures are placed in public museums, the public will perceive these artworks differently, or better say as more valuable. The reason is that we all have the assumption that the finest and rawest “memories” of our humanity are mainly collected in such places. So here, is a good perspective in changing the location of the sculptures from the streets of Florence to the public museums where a different attention will be given to the artworks. Still, this might have not been the artists’ intention but at least more future generations will the able to see the original works of the masters. However, Florence still does not want to loose its image of the city full of streets of sculpture. Accordingly replicas will stand in the original places of the authentic works. Yet, Why should we place replicas in streets and authentic ones in museums?

4. Preserving the Aura
Placing replicas in the streets of Florence means that reproduction of the originals will take place. The act of placing the authentic works indoors, while their replicas in the streets, already suggests the authentic works are worthy of being preserved, since no one would put the replicas in the museum while the originals in the street. Why? The most attacked and referred writer on the authenticity of artworks and their special “aura” is Walter Benjamin. He stated that reproductions, which are the plurality of something unique, do not have the aura of the original artwork. This means, the replicas placed in the streets of Florence, are of a different value compared to the authentic ones. Furthermore, the distinctive values of an “authentic” artwork are uniqueness and permanence 10. Thus it seams that something authentic definitely needs conservation due to its permanent state, so that it can be longer appreciated as such by the coming generations. Furthermore, Walter states that as an image is produced the aura of the original work diminishes with the increasing number of copies made. But can other sculptures be placed instead of 16th century replicas?
Florence, has distinguished itself by the great developments of Renaissance and every artwork that belongs to that period defines the identity of the city. Thus Florence, in order to preserve its image that has echoed around the world, instead of starting to form a new identity, needs to place replicas in the streets. But according, to the Charter of Venice, replicas should be recognizable as such in comparison to authentic works. Nevertheless, an exact copy of the original replaced Michelangelo’s David, and it can be expected that the same will apply to the other endangered sculptures in the streets of Florence. Would Florence of the future become like another Las Vegas Italian city, just with “hidden” authentic works in the museums? I guess this is a somehow far-fetched, by Florence would look the same while experienced differently based on personal request for authenticity.

Cultural goods determine our identities societies and differences beliefs, and do always get our special attention, no matter where they are. But as masses of tourists visit cities with many outdoor artworks, the conservation of such objects is difficult. Thus due to their authenticity, and aura, the originals should be placed in public museums most of the times. However, as Duncan considers visiting museums as civilized rituals, where a different state of mind exists, the placing of street sculptures in museum will change the way they are perceived by the audience. The results can be both positive and negative; therefore, Florence has directed another issue to resolve such cases of irresponsibility. Finally, Paolucci, Florence’s arts and heritage chief, states that the existing form of tourism, which is not respectful to cultural and artistic places, is harmful to the city. However, the solution is not penalties…

“Education”  will establish the future conservation of our human treasures.

– McMahon, B., Italy’s streets of art at risk from vandals, September 25, 2005. In Observer:,3858,5293778-102275,00.html
– ICOMOS, The Venice Charter, International Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of
Monuments and Sites, 1964. Retrieved from:
– Duncan, C., Civilizing Rituals, Inside Public Art Museums, 1995
– Throsby, D. The Production and Consumption of the Arts: A View of Cultural Economics. Journal of
Economic Literature, March 1994, 1-29
– Klamer, A., Social, Cultural and Economic Values of Cultural Goods, September 2001.
– Benjamin, W., The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction (1936), Transcribed by Blunden,
A., February, 2005
– Wetering, van de E., The Autonomy of Restoration: Ethical Considerations in Relation to Artistic
Concepts (1989), in Historical and Philosophical Issues in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage,
Readings in Conservation, The Getty, 1996.

Nova Scotia – Cultural Renaissance or Re-creating Culture for Profit

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Cultural Renaissance or Re-creating Culture for Profit in Nova Scotia

December 23, 2005, The Netherlands (follow-up December 11, 2009-April 2010)

Kevin Tummers








Nova Scotian




Update 2009


The aim of this paper is to try and take a closer look at the relationship and the differences between a cultural renaissance and a re-creation of culture for profit.  I will look at examples from the groups that have had the most impact on the culture of Nova Scotia from the beginning to the present.  The groups I will be discussing are the Scottish, the Mi’kmaq, the Acadians, the Germans, the Blacks (for lack of a better word), as the major minority cultures, and of course the British, who after all where “in charge” of Nova Scotia.

So who in fact are Nova Scotians, and what is their heritage?  To begin with, one must look at how a Nova Scotian sees themself.   From the 2001 Nova Scotia census, we can gain some valuable insight.  The census shows that 95.4 % of the population was born in Canada, while 50.7%  reported to be Canadian as well as another origin.  The census had 30.8 % claiming to have origins in the British Isles (Scottish 12.3%; Irish  4.7%);  7.2 % European (German 3.3%; Dutch 1.2%);  5.5 % French;  2.0% Aboriginal;  1.1% Arab and  0.8% African origins among the most notable.  So roughly 50% of the population consider their origins to be non-Canadian, while only 4.6% can truly make this claim[1].

This shows us quite nicely the makeup of the province, and in particular the way the people view themselves.  What is interesting, is the level of pride and awareness that the European-Canadian groups tend to show.  In contrast, only 0.8% of respondents claimed African origins, yet Blacks make up 3.8% of the population, that is to say (assuming that the majority claiming African origins are Black) that roughly three quarters of all Nova Scotia Blacks consider themselves simply Canadian, with no hyphen, i.e. African-Canadian.  Aboriginals claiming Aboriginal origin on the other hand, make up the same total number as they have total population at 2.0% respectively.  These facts suggest that those of European descent tend to hold on to their origins and may even exaggerate them.

Why is it then, that the Europeans-Canadians tend to be extra proud?   Is this a sort of cultural renaissance with a romantic idea of ties to the homeland that most have only seen in pictures or heard grandparents speak of, or is it simply a re-construction of culture for profit?  I will look at several examples throughout this paper to examine these questions.


To begin with, I would like to look at Nova Scotia in the mid-20th century.  For the last 200 years, the province has been largely populated by those of Scottish descent.  Today, ceilidh is a household word and fiddle music and bagpipes are as normal to Nova Scotians as no shopping on Sundays.

The Scottish settlers who arrived in Nova Scotia came in two distinct periods, and the first group that came before 1815 left Scotland for the most part willingly.

“…early Highland emigration to British North America was based upon pride and choice, and that the transplanted Highlander recognized full well that only by departing his native land could he hope to maintain his traditional way of life.”[2]

It is true that many of the traditions and customs have survived and evolved since they arrived in Nova Scotia, but what of it is authentic?  Many people simply enjoy the Scottish festivals, such as the Highland games in Antigonish – the oldest in the world outside of Scotland.   Others feel their association by name to an ancient clan as a rite, and consider themselves direct descendants of the original Highlanders to the Province.  Highland Pipers can be seen virtually anywhere, but especially at the tourist office.

One does not have to look far to find out that commercialism has entered the mix, just look at the back of any typical Nova Scotian souvenir and there’s a good chance you’ll see “made in China.”  But that is too easy, let’s go further.

Me-tooism is a good starting point.  Possibly the event that set all of this off, was a visit to Glasgow in 1938, when Premier Macdonald and his delegation saw an exhibition that re-created an 18th century Highland village.  It consisted of re-constructed cottages from around Scotland, painted backgrounds and a future Highland cottage of the architects own design.  Many critics at the time felt the exhibit was inaccurate and not authentic, yet it drew over 1.5 million visitors[3], including Royalty.

Macdonald had a vision for Nova Scotia.  A term that comes to mind is today is Tartanization, meaning to fit the Scottish perspective.  During his time in office from 1933-1954, a Gaelic College was founded in Cape Breton (1939) and an official Nova Scotia Tartan was created (1953).  It was also during this time that a new luxury hotel on a cliff in the Highlands was built, and it was called the Keltic Lodge.  The province’s official welcome is in Gaelic as well.

In his recent book, Ian McKay uses the term “reconstructed ethnicity[4]“  to describe the changing of ethnic identities to fulfill the pressures of tourism.   This is exactly what happened during the mid 20th century in the province.  It was a time of growth and development, and new roads were connecting small towns called Caledonia, Barra, Lochabar, Iona and Inverness, and people began to travel.  So this cultural renaissance was born out of the goal to collect profits, and it left Nova Scotians with a reputation as generous, simple and tough Celts.  In some ways it cheapened the culture, in others it strengthened it.  Regardless, it drew attention to it.

(Note: in August 2010, the Nova Scotia archives added a number of clips from its collection to the website  Archived film from the clip “Citadel City (1957)” and “The Highland Heart in Nova Scotia (1962)” show a few of the points mentioned above.

“Citadel City” – time 3:16

“The Highland Heart in Nova Scotia”  – time 0:45 ; time 9:45)


The next example I shall look at starts with the immigration of the “Foreign Protestants” in 1750.  They were a group of about 2000 mostly German Lutherans, but also Swiss and French settlers that were brought to the colony by the British to counter the French Catholic presence.  They founded Lunenburg in 1753, and several other communities along the South Shore of the province.  However as a ship building area, and having strong ties to Halifax and the British it quickly became unfashionable to speak German and many traditions simply died out with the language.  What remained was mostly in place names, and surnames.

Interestingly enough, many of these traditions are being re-created by the new German immigrants to the area today, and the German Canadian Association of Nova Scotia.  The goals of the Association are to promote the understanding and appreciation of the German language and cultures; to preserve the cultural heritage of German-speaking immigrants and their descendants in Nova Scotia; and to support and participate in multiculturalism.

Oktoberfest celebrations have now become an annual tradition, as well as the Christmas service in Lunenburg which is conducted in German.   Fasching celebrations can even be found in some locales.  This, in contrast to the Scottish renaissance in the middle of the last century, is very localized and is rather small scale, mostly through the efforts of the newly arrived German-Canadians,  but happily embraced by the Canadians with a German surname as well by those with no ties to Germany at all.

The province has currently put a major emphasis on attracting German speaking Europeans as the target tourists, however the goal is strictly for tourism, and not to re-create Nova Scotia as New Germany.


I will give one last example of a recent European-Canadian cultural revival in Nova Scotia, and it will be the French, specifically the Acadians.

The struggle of the Acadians, is another negative chapter in the story of British North America, and one that had profound effects on the culture of the province.

The Acadians were the first European settlers to establish a permanent settlement in North America, north of Florida, in 1604.  They cultivated the earth and thrived on the land they called Acadie.  It is worth noting that the early Acadians had extremely strong ties to the Mi’kmaq First Nation, and the communities were very closely knit.  Acadians adopted many words and aspects of Mi’kmaq life, and it has been said that in many cases the second language of both communities was that of the other[5].

The British put an end to this in 1755.  Though the Acadians wished to be neutral in the battle for North America, they were still seen as a threat in the eyes of the British.  They were French Catholics after all, and it was assumed that they would support the French cause.   By expelling the Acadians in 1755, the population plummeted from 13,000 in 1749 down to 1,200 after the

deportation[6].    The Acadians were scattered along the Atlantic coasts from Louisiana to England and France.

As a result of their expulsion, Planters from New England were invited to the Province and settled on Acadian lands.   After the Seven Years War in 1763 the Acadians were allowed to return, but found their lands occupied.  They settled new communities such as Clare, Chéticamp and Pomquet, which are in more or less isolated pockets along the coast of the present day Atlantic Provinces, and survive with varying degrees of Acadian identity.

It could be said that it was a Lieux de Memoire that truly saved the Acadians.  Pierre Nora states a lieux de memoire as:

“Any significant entity, whether material or non-material in nature, which by dint of human will or the work of time has become a symbolic element of the memorial heritage of any community.[7]

The deportation itself can be considered as the first symbolic element that has united these people.  The second, was the epic poem Evangeline, written by the American poet Longfellow nearly a century after the deportation.  The poem told the tale of two Acadian lovers, Gabriel and Evangeline, who were torn apart on their wedding day, only to reunite again years later, as Gabriel lay on his deathbed.   The story brought the attention of Acadie to the world, eventually in 130 languages, and began a legacy of pilgrimage to the former marshlands of the Acadians.

The third element began in 1907, when John Herbin, a descendant of the Acadians, bought the land thought to be the former site of Grand Pre, home of Evangeline.  From a stone marker he placed where he believed to be the old church cemetery, a replica church and museum was opened in 1930, and the site would continue grow to become a National Heritage site, and Canada’s first Rural Historic District, complete with a multi-million dollar visitors center and a reconstructed Acadian Village, and a bronze statue of Evangeline.

Since 1881, there have been Acadian conventions that were for the most part discussions about the rights and education of Acadian people.  There were also small festival type events at some of the conventions, most notably in 1955, when after 18 years of inactivity, a festival was organized as the 11th convention, to mark the 200th year since the start of the deportation, and took place in several Acadian locales.  These conventions all occurred on a small scale in Atlantic Canada.

It wasn’t until 1994 that they began to stage the great festival of the World Acadian Congress, not until 1999 that the annual Grou Tyme Acadian Festival began in Halifax, and not until 2004 that the third World Acadian Congress was held in Nova Scotia.  The year marked the 400th year since the arrival of the first settlers, and the 249th year since the first expulsion.  Over 500,000 spectators participated in the two weeks of festivities.  The following year marked the 250th year since the first expulsion, and the festivities carried on.

In many ways this is quite similar to the tartanization of the Nova Scotia Celt. It is difficult to say if Acadianism reached its peak in 2004-2005, and the Grou Tyme parties will continue to flourish, and the Acadian flags will fly higher still.  It is no secret however, that just as very few “Gaelic Nova Scotians” speak gaelic, many Acadians do not speak Acadian (or French) and have lost many ties to Acadie.  In fact, today Acadie is an entirely different concept than it was in the times before the deportation.  Modern Acadian music today is actually a mix of Rock, Celtic and World music.  It is certain though, that the Acadians are among the most proud and fervent of all Nova Scotians.   The situation is interesting, as it is quite possible to imagine that without the deportation the Acadians may have been assimilated entirely into the local population, yet the terrible circumstances may have instilled in them such a sense of pride and honour, that their culture as well as their language can still be seen all over the region.   The group Le Grand Derangement is one such example of this pride and resilience and can be heard in their music (Y a jamais eu de grand dérangement – the term used to describe the deportations) and seen at their shows. 


Another wave of immigrants that have a place in Nova Scotia culture is the Blacks.  Between 1783 and 1785 some 3000 Black Loyalists arrived in the province, many of whom had escaped slavery and fought for the British during the American Revolutionary War, with the promise of freedom afterwards.  With a population of 2,500, Birchtown, Nova Scotia became the largest settlement of Free Blacks outside of Africa[8], yet due to the influx of new citizens, freedom did not come with the land and rations that were promised.  By 1792, one third of them left Nova Scotia for Africa, where they founded the city of Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Sadly, the history of the people that stayed is relatively unknown.   Some accounts were recorded in bibles and personal diaries, but for the most part survival was the primary objective for these displaced people.  Interest of their history increased in the 1970s and ‘80s, and several organizations were founded to try and recover the story of the Black Loyalists, among the other Black immigrants.  More and more people are beginning to hear stories of the Black Loyalists not only for the first, but for the second and third times, as more is discovered about their history in the province, though it is rarely mentioned in detail in the school curriculum.  The Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia in Dartmouth is a website that specializes in the protection and preservation of Black culture in Nova Scotia and provides information and oral history, as well as organizing events.

As early as the Acadians, there are records of Blacks in Nova Scotian society.  More still arrived with the New England Planters upon the expulsion of the Acadians.  Many slaves escaped the United States and came to Nova Scotia while others still, were deported from Jamaica to Nova Scotia.  Others from the Caribbean were recruited to work in the mines of Cape Breton during the 1920s.  Villages were settled, such as North Preston, Cherrybrook, Yankeetown and Africville.  Africville was a community settled in 1812, by about 80 Black families from different origins, and became a town in 1840[9].

It was located adjacent to Halifax, beside the city dump and was split down the middle by a railway built in the 1850s.   The population was about 400 people, who were denied water, sewage, sidewalks and street lights, among other things.  Although economically and physically deprived the community was very strong and cohesive.  However it was ultimately destroyed during the mid 1960s, in order to build a new bridge.  The relocation of the Africville residents was similar to that of the Mi’kmaq to the reservations in the early 1800’s, as it saw people displaced from family and friends, and put into settings they were un-familiar with.  The site, which is now a city park has been declared a National Historic Site and efforts are being made to see that the displaced people receive some sort of retroactive compensation and to try to restore historical evidence.

Jazz musician Joe Sealy composed a suite, in 1996 entitled Africville Suite.  His father was born in Africville and wrote it as a tribute, upon his fathers death.  In an interview, he discusses the suite:

“Yes, and it goes on for close to fifty minutes, and it opens with the title tune “Africville”, where I try to convey musically the development of the community from its humble beginnings, through its period of growth and awareness and finally to its eventual destruction.[10]

Through the course of the suite, he re-creates life in Africville musically, and songs like “This Trains Comin’ ”, and “Sometimes I Dream”, are meant to pay homage to the simple aspects of life in the community, as well as the song “Dukes in Town”, referring to Duke Ellington, who often visited the parents of his second wife Mildred Dixon, who was from Africville.

So much of the culture of the Nova Scotia Blacks has been taken away, and taken away again.  Many of them arrived in the province, not knowing where they came from, and still have trouble creating a place to start over.  A cultural recovery is still needed in order to see a major cultural renaissance, although this is indeed happening.


If the Acadians were the first Europeans to settle the land, they were by no means the first inhabitants.  The history of people in Nova Scotia can be traced as far back as 11,000 years.  The Mi’kmaw are likely the descendants of these people, and a First Nation that traditionally occupied most of Atlantic Canada and parts of the state of Maine.  Their territory however has since been politically divided into separate Provinces and Nations, and further into reserves.

The very earliest reports from European explorers have described them as monsters and non-humans living in a far off land.  The reality is that the Mi’kmaw were great craftsmen, highly skilled and advanced in environmental and human relations.  Concepts such as greed, poverty and biases whether political, financial or professional would likely have been non existent.

Ironically, these beliefs and their sense of equality is a factor in their decimation by the Europeans.   The first European contacts with Native Americans were with friendly, mainly pacifist tribes such Cabot’s encounter with the Beothuk in 1497, and Columbus’ with the Taino in 1492.  Dr. Daniel Paul writes of Columbus:

“The blind luck that led him to land on this small defenseless island instead of somewhere else along the thousands of miles of North and South American coastline, where people wouldn’t have been so complacent, is akin to finding a needle in a haystack. In retrospect, if he had instead landed in a non-pacifist country, such as that of the Iroquois or Maya, history would have turned out differently. Their Warriors would have fought back ferociously, very probably ending his voyage on the American side of the Atlantic…However, history turned out the way it did and no amount of fantasizing can change that[11].”

The Mi’kmaw interacted with the fisherman from Portugal, Spain, France and England, and continued to trade together and were mostly eager and helpful.   This led to continued and prolonged stays in the region by the Europeans, and eventually settlements, which also led to the introduction of foreign diseases.   This also led to a rapid deterioration of their culture and a change in lifestyle.

They would adopt Christianity, they would learn new European skills, and they would speak new European languages.   This was not a time of cultural exchanges however, this was a time of cultural supremacy and cultural genocide, and the British were always on the dominating side.  One aspect that remains is in place names, many of which come from or are derived from Mi’kmaq such as Antigonish, Canso, Malagash and Muquodoboit, to name a few.

As you have read so far, every account of the Mi’kmaw I have mentioned has been in relation to the Europeans.  The explanation for this is simple: the accounts were written by the Europeans.  Their history hardly “exists” before the arrival of the Europeans, and in the past their history was not seen as important before the Europeans.  Further, the views recorded of the Mi’kmaq experience would be those as seen though the eyes of an outsider, translating customs, as well as words and thoughts.

This is not to say that nothing is known of Mi’kmaw culture.  On the contrary, there is a plethora known and available, however it is not promoted and embraced the same way the typical European-Canadian events tend to be.   And maybe to a certain degree that is for the better for the time being, as to avoid exploiting the culture for a quick profit.

Recently, the area of southwestern Nova Scotia has been proposed to host a multitude of protected natural sites to create a cluster-biosphere.  The proposed area includes five provincial counties, the Acadia First Nation (Mi’kmaq) and Wildcat reserve, as well as Kejimkujik National Park and the Canadian Heritage Shelburne River.  Many other important protected areas and partners are also included in the area.

The aim is to receive support from the UNESCO/MAB (man and biosphere) which would encompass terrestrial, coastal and marine zones in the area, in turn create a focal point for research in the main economic sources of the region, being forestry, fishing and tourism.  These such biospheres are designed to facilitate conservation, research, education and sustainable development through agreements between governments, universities, industries and communities.  Globally, there were 337 UNESCO/MAB biosphere reserves in 85 countries, in 1997[12].   The goal of UNESCO/MAB is to establish biosphere reserves in all 193 of the earth’s terrestrial bio-geographical provinces, in order to protect sizable examples of unmodified natural ecosystems.  Also, some biospheres are designed to intermingle undisturbed areas with human altered areas, to measure different levels of impact that can be made by humans, such as monitoring acid rain and human-wildlife interaction to name a few.

Nova Scotia’s leading private land conservation organization and non-governmental natural protection group is the Nova Scotia Nature Trust.  They target cottage owners, which many Nova Scotians are, and look for funds to protect natural areas.  They seek to protect many “coastal plain flora”, which are found in Southwest Nova Scotia, and nowhere else in Canada, and consist of some 60 plants, eleven of which are nationally at risk, and five which are globally at risk[13].

This area is not only cottage country, but also Mi’kmaq country.   The list of potential cooperating groups for the Biosphere include government, fishing, forestry, recreation, research, environment, tourism and also First Nations.

This could be a perfect opportunity for a large-scale renaissance of Mi’kmaw culture, through activities involving the natural environment and outdoor setting.  Such a setting could be ideal as to not compromise the integrity of the culture, yet offering maximum authenticity to the cultural experience.  Furthermore, it is within this region that hundreds of arrowheads and tools dating as far back as 8,000 years ago have recently been discovered, along with V shaped stone fishing weirs on the bottom of the Mersey River, estimated to be 4,000 years old.

(Note: In August, 2010 the Nova Scotia Archives added a number of clips to the website  One video, entitled Gloosecap Country (1958) tells the story of Gloosecap, the Mi’kmaq god of creation.  While the clip does tell the Mi’kmaq story, it no doubt does so from a Western perspective, through non-native sound effects, music and narrative.)


That being said, there is still according to the census, another 50% of Nova Scotians who feel absolutely no affinity to any specific origin other than Canadian.  The question for them would be then, is theirs genuine cultural growth, or simply creating a profitable “gimic” culture?  To answer this question, one need only take a quick look at any Nova Scotian festival and events guide.              Eco-related activities are very much a part of Nova Scotian culture and are alive and well, from tidal bore rafting along the Shubenacadie River, to exploring the thousands of kilometers of coastline, or paddling one of the province’s lakes, to hiking in the Highland mountains, not to mention bird watching all the while.  And one must certainly not forget the town of Windsor’s claim to having invented Ice Hockey.

As a coastal people, virtually every village community center will have a lobster supper at some point in the summer time.  They are times of gathering and feasting mainly for the locals, but for tourists who happen to find them as well.  As the Province holds the claim to “Blueberry Capital of Canada”, blueberry suppers are also commonplace.

Other typically Nova Scotian cultural happenings may not make that much sense, but can be found all over from the Mahone Bay Scarecrow festival, to the Pumpkin People of Kentville.  To celebrate the harvest, the people of Kentville create an entire village of “pumpkin people” throughout the town, and for the larger pumpkins there is a regatta where large pumpkins are hollowed out and raced.  Some are motorized with steering mechanisms, while others are more primitive having only paddles.

Nova Scotians typically are people drawn to the water, and will be found in anything that floats, from a pumpkin to a round bottom lobster boat to a sailboat and everything in between.  The Nova Scotia automobile license plates sum it up nicely in calling it “Canada’s Ocean Playground”. In fact, several festivals and events actually take place at sea, such as the Eastern Passage Sharkarama shark-fishing derby, where all sharks caught are displayed afterwards on the wharf for scientific study and public awareness.

On land, Nova Scotians are drawn to music.  Possibly the truest and original form of  Nova Scotia music could be the “Mi’kmaq fiddle” which was a merger of the Scottish, Irish and French Fiddles but  played the Mi’kmaq, who had never before seen a fiddle.  Legends like Lee Cremo – the best bow arm in the world[14] – and Wilfred Prosper, who truly created a Nova Scotian sound.    The jazz musician Joe Sealy made an interesting comment about the effect of the landscape the province has.

“There is something very magical about musicians who come from certain parts of the country, especially the East Coast area. There is an aura about them and their playing; it is indicative of their surroundings.  Right, you get a feeling for the music that only comes from the ocean, the Canadian ocean, not California, not Florida.  It is very raw and there is a certain honesty in the playing too.”[15]

This indicates that though there are many spin offs and money making “gimics” to go along with Nova Scotia culture, it is truly a culture shaped by the land, and by the sea.  Events and traditions do not need to be invented, as they often just “happen” as a result of the geographical circumstances.

(Note: As of August 2010, nsarchives on features a clip entitled “Identity (1956)” which elaborates on the notion that Nova Scotians are water-people with great boat building traditions.)


Since people first lived on what is now Canada, the land has been multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-lingual.  Even the First Nations were many distinct groups with their own traditions, languages and ways of life – a concept that has often been misunderstood.

In 1971, Prime Minister Trudeau made a formal commitment to multi-culturalism by introducing the world’s first Multi-Cultural policy.   The aim was to nurture and preserve diverse racial, ethnic and religious tradition, while at the same time creating self-worth with a sense of attachment and responsibility to Canada as a whole.   The essence was integration based on the celebration and respect for the differences.

Therefore, your heritage will partly determine what and how you celebrate.  It also opens up the doors to add creativity to events, and to modify traditional practices, and even add new traditions to your family repertoire.  This is not a bad thing, but the aim should then become one of creating an authentically new Canadian custom, or Nova Scotian custom, based on the old but with new local elements.

Elements like hockey.  In 2004 CBC television ran a series called The Greatest Canadian,[16] where 1.2 million votes determined who was in fact the greatest Canadian.  It came as no surprise that two of the top 10 greatest were involved with hockey.  Whether you like the sport or not, if you have anything to do with Canada you will without a doubt be following the National Team at the Olympics.  Where you watch the games, and how you watch them would be an interesting study in itself, but every Canadian will most likely be in the know, when it comes to hockey.

Sharing culture, while maintaining personal traditions can be educational and inspirational, and can of course lead to profit.  In an article called “Growing Up Canadian, while living abroad” by Geraldine Mac Donald-Moran, as an illustration she relates Canadian traditions to Heinz 57 Steak Sauce, in saying there’s “A little bit of everything in there, just to spice things up a bit[17].”

By “spicing up” our culture, we will see signs of a cultural re-birth, however in many ways it will be simply a continuous cultural birth.  And this culture that develops and matures and continues to develop will certainly have marketing potential, but only time will reveal the outcome.


Historically, I think the world was largely governed by “The Golden Rule”, meaning those who have the gold, make the rules.  This was indeed the case in Nova Scotia’s history, and it is reflected in the cultures that are prominent in our society today.   MacDonald and other leaders like him used political sway to promote their Scottish interests, and the surge in Acadian culture can be seen as a sign of their increasing power and influence in society, after years of oppression and lack of self-worth.  The German example is one of a comfortable minority that has seen relatively little hostility since their arrival in Nova Scotia is quietly and proudly doing their thing, and re-introducing their customs and practices for the sake of a good time.

In the future of globalized trade and increasing international relationships, culture will without a doubt be included in linking nations, as showcases of both uniqueness and similarities.  We have witnessed the successful link between Nova Scotia with Scotland and Ireland, and the profits it has led to.  In the modern world it seems difficult to see anything without a dollar amount, and culture has become entangled in this.  It is likely that as the Nova Scotian Mi’kmaq gain cultural status and prestige and not to forget marketability, the idea of Me-tooism will hit New England and they will likely emulate the strategies used in Atlantic Canada to gain awareness and profit of “their” Mi’kmaq.  One can be left to wonder what will be the future of the link between the Nova Scotia Blacks and Sierra Leone.

The Black and Mi’kmaq examples represent visible minorities, and show that although this is a land of cultural diversity and togetherness, there is still not total equality.  This will likely change, as more leaders of visible minorities come forward and gain influence, which is certainly easier said than done.   I think that the table is set for a renaissance in these two visible minority cultures in the near future, but will not see close to what the Scottish or Acadians have done.  For their sake, I hope they can develop a confident and sustainable modern culture, full of integrity and with close links to previous generations, and with some marketability.


[1]Stats shown were gathered from Government of Nova Scotia 2001 Census

[2]J. M. Bumsted.  The People’s Clearance: Highland Emigration to British North America, 1770 – 1815, (Edinburgh, 1982)

[3]Empire Exhibition Glasgow


[4]McKay, Ian. The Quest of the Folk: Antimodernism and Cultural Selection in Twentieth-Century Nova Scotia.  McGill Queens Univ Pr 2003

[5]Paul, Daniel.  We Were Not the Savages:  NEW: TWENTY-FIRST-CENTURY VERSION: A Mi’kmaq Perspective on the Collision between European and Native American Civilizations – Fernwood Publishing, Halifax, NS, 2000.

[6]Statistics Canada.  Census of Canada 1665-1871 – Acadians


[7]Nora, Pierre.  Realms of Memory: Rethinking the Past. New York, Columbia University Press.  1996

[8]Elizabeth Cromwell.  Black Loyalist Heritage Society. Shelburne, Nova Scotia


[9]Dorrington, J., Milligan, P. et al.  The Spirit of Africville.  Maritext Limited.  Halifax. 1993

[10]Performing Arts and Entertainment in Canada – Hal Hill Interview with Joe Sealy 1996


[11]Paul, Daniel.  We Were Not the Savages:  NEW: TWENTY-FIRST-CENTURY VERSION: A Mi’kmaq Perspective on the Collision between European and Native American Civilizations – Fernwood Publishing, Halifax, NS, 2000.

[12]Lasserre, P., and Hadley, M. 1997. Biosphere reserves: a network for biodiversity. Ecodecision 23(winter)


[13]Nova Scotia Nature Trust.  Halifax, Nova Scotia


[14]Smith, E., Nygaard-King, B. Encyclopedia of Music in Canada – Lee Cremo.

[15]Performing Arts and Entertainment in Canada – Hal Hill Interview with Joe Sealy 1996


[16]CBC Television.  The Greatest Canadian


[17]Mac Donald Morin, G.  Growing Up Canadian, While Living Abroad


(update follows after references)


Stats shown were gathered from Government of Nova Scotia 2001 Census

Bercson, D. Et al. Colonies: Canada to 1867.  Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson 1992

Bumsted, J.M.  The People’s Clearance: Highland Emigration to British North America, 1770 – 1815, (Edinburgh, 1982)

Empire Exhibition Glasgow


McKay, I. The Quest of the Folk: Antimodernism and Cultural Selection in Twentieth-Century Nova Scotia.  McGill Queens Univ Pr 2003

Statistics Canada.  Census of Canada 1665-1871 – Acadians


Nora. P.  Realms of Memory: Rethinking the Past. New York, Columbia University Press.  1996

Lise Fillmore.  German Canadian Society of Nova Scotia.  Halifax, Nova Scotia


Elizabeth Cromwell.  Black Loyalist Heritage Society. Shelburne, Nova Scotia


Dorrington, J., Milligan, P. et al.  The Spirit of Africville.  Maritext Limited.  Halifax. 1993

Gilmour, D.  Canada: A Peoples History – Vol. 2. McClelland & Stewart Ltd. The Canadian Publishers.  Toronto 2001

Acker, S., Jackson, L. Historic Shelburne: 1870-1950. Nimbus Publishing.  Halifax 2001

Performing Arts and Entertainment in Canada – Hal Hill Interview with Joe Sealy 1996


Nova Scotia Nature Trust.  Halifax, Nova Scotia


Paul. D.  We Were Not the Savages:  NEW: TWENTY-FIRST-CENTURY VERSION: A Mi’kmaq Perspective on the Collision between European and Native American Civilizations – Fernwood Publishing, Halifax, NS, 2000.

Lasserre, P., and Hadley, M. 1997. Biosphere reserves: a network for biodiversity. Ecodecision 23(winter)


CBC Television.  The Greatest Canadian


Mac Donald Morin, G.  Growing Up Canadian, While Living Abroad



Thefollowing up-date is provided to note a few of the groups discussed in this article, five years later.  It is by no means complete, however offers some insight into their efforts.  I have added the titles of several clips belonging to the Nova Scotia Archives, which can be viewed on  They are a nice compliment to this subject, as they offer a first hand glimpse into the identity they were trying to create in the ’30s, ’50s and ’60s and how it has evolved over time to the present.


In 2009, there were over 3,000 partygoers attending the Tatamagouche Annual North Shore Bavarian Society Oktoberfest, including a dance Friday evening, Beer Gardens Saturday afternoon and a dance Saturday evening; concession booths featuring Canadian and German cuisine, such as sausages, schnitzel, lobster rolls and cheesecakes; as well as  variety of souvenirs including, beer steins, T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, pins and other novelty items; along with beverages from Domestic and German beers to local wines and Imported spirits, and the infamous Schnapps Bar, soft drinks and coffees are also available.

German language schools are also on the rise.


Grand Pré and environs (rural and spiritual) are listed as a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage Status.

Events held at Grand Pré include: Artist Workshops, archaeological digs, Celtic music concerts, swearing in of new Canadians, historical recreations, picnics, day camps, art gallery, art shows and sales, etc.

In 2009, Société Promotion Grand-Pré created the André-D. Cormier Certificate to recognize individuals for their exceptional contribution to the outreach and sustainability of the Grand-Pré National Historic Site of Canada.

In November, 2009, an hour long rally took place before the Olympic Torch Bearers (Vancouver 2010) arrived which featured free hot chocolate and fun activities for the whole family at the National Historic Interpretative centre at Grand Pré. There was also a UNESCO table set up with giveaways; an Art display; volunteers dressed in period costumes; and a showing of the Deportation movie.

Acadian cultural activities are thriving in Nova Scotia, and are a major player in the Nova Scotia Tourism Industry.


A message from Dr. Henry V. Bishop, chief curator of the Black Cultural Centre,  on the website:

“Jambo/Greetings brothers and sisters of the Global Village. Many times we require an awakening of the mind, body and spirit and that is just what we offer here at the one and only place of its kind in the world: The Black Cultural Centre for N.S., an African-Nova Scotia Museum/Library Resource Centre.

An old African proverb states: “Any river that forgets its source… will eventually dry up!” Therefore in respect to these wise words, the Black Cultural Centre is a source of knowledge, pride and African heritage; so crucial in developing healthy self-esteem for life’s journey.”

Wise words and a noble mission.  Dedicated work from centres such as the Black Cultural Centre, and other figures including Eddie Carvery and Irvine Carvery and Nelson and Victor Carvery, four among many who have made it a life’s work to return some dignity and truth to the site of Africville.  “If we do nothing now, nothing will get done, period.”  Says Nelson Carvery.

A 2007 feature film starring Danny Glover was made in Halifax, telling the story of racial tensions and the deep rooted history of boxing in Halifax, particularly among the Blacks.

Other recent activities have included  a talk about Eliza Ruggles Raymond, Sarah Margru Kinson and the work of Nova Scotians who helped freed slaves return to their homes in West Africa. Before she returned to Canada, Eliza received a gift of woven cloth of traditional West African design made by Sarah. Join Historian Nancy O’Brien of the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia for a look an amazing story linking two continents and two women of great strength and determination.

In February of 2010 Canada post will issue a stamp in honour of William Hall, the first black man as well as the first Nova Scotian to have been awarded the Victoria Cross, the British Empire’s highest honour.   The stamp features an artist’s rendering of Mr. Hall, wearing a coat with war medals attached, in the foreground while a 19th-century ship sails away in the distance. Mr. Hall “left a rich historical legend but he died a poor man,” writes Bridglal Pachai, an author, a historian and human rights advocate. Next month’s stamp unveiling is one of a host of events planned for this year’s version of African Heritage Month. The celebration kicks off Jan. 27, in Halifax, with a ceremony at Province House and with additional events at the Nova Scotia Black Cultural Centre and elsewhere.

Also in February 2010, the Mayor of Halifax made a formal apology to the former community of Africville.  “I’m here today on behalf of Halifax regional council to deliver a formal apology to all those whose lives have been altered by the loss of Africville in the 1960s,” Mayor Peter Kelly said at a ceremony held at the YMCA in north-end Halifax.

“We realize words cannot undo what has been done. But we are profoundly sorry and apologize to each and every one of you. The repercussions of what happened to Africville linger to this day. They haunt us in the form of lost opportunities for the young people who never were nurtured in the rich traditions, culture and heritage of Africville.”

The apology came along with nearly $5 million from three levels of government for the black community — $3 million from the city, $1.5 million from the province and $250,000 from the federal government. One hectare of land is also included in the agreement, along with a commitment to rebuild the Seaview United Baptist Church on the site. It will be used as an historical interpretative centre. Seaview Park will be renamed Africville, and will still be owned by HRM.  Also a new department at city hall will be created to deal with issues that affect African Nova Scotians.

The agreement was made between the Halifax Regional Municipality and the Africville Genealogy Society.  Rev. Rhonda Britten, a leader in the African Nova Scotian community, welcomed the settlement and said it was time to put the past behind them. “I know that there are some among us who are wounded, and some among us who bear those scars. But, in spite of all of that, the victory has been won,” she said.  “We cannot continue to feed our children the bitter pills, we must give them the pills of love. We must plant in them the seeds of unity and victory. That is the only way.”

A Globe and Mail article from May 2010, discussing the provinces history of racism indicates that the unemployment rate among Nova Scotia blacks in the 1980s was around 50 per cent, to 20 per cent in 1996 and 11.8 per cent in 2006 – within one percentage point of the black employment rate in the rest of Canada.

There is still, however, a lot to correct.


On June 21, 2006, The Glooscap Heritage Centre was officially opened.  The centre has a modern visitor information desk and a gift shop with an aboriginal focus.  It has received the support of the Millbrook First Nation community, and became a reality through the cooperation of many levels of government, organizational and community support. The centre is managed by the Glooscap Heritage Society the facility offers exposure into the legend of Glooscap and the cultural significance for the Mi’Kmaw people. The center is home to many artifacts, aboriginal gifts and crafts and a multi-media presentation.  Language training is offered, It also features meeting and convention space.  A business park has been set up on adjacent land.

A 40 foot statute of Glooscap can be seen from miles away and has become one of Nova Scotia’s landmarks.

National Aboriginal Day (June 21) is celebrated at the Glooscap Heritage Centre in Millbrook annually, and features Mi’kmaq culture and heritage through events such as traditional drumming, dancing, storytelling and art and craft.

In November 2009, the Olympic torch (Vancouver 2010) entered the Glooscap Heritage Centre and a brief, well attended Ceremony was held where Elder Madeline Martin blessed the flame.  Less than an hour before arriving at the Glooscap Centre, Chief Lawrence Paul ran the torch through Truro.

The Mi’kmaq are making major advances not only in the promotion of the culture, but specifically the preservation and understanding of many aspects.

Bruce Stewart (CRM Group Ltd.) speaking on Mi’kmaq artifacts: “As a Mi’kmaq archaeologist I feel I have a responsibility to make this understood and, once it is understood and pieced together, we’ll get a broader understanding of the Mi’kmaq and the land.”

The Confederacy of the Mainland Mi’kmaq consider the Debert area of Nova Scotia among the most significant archaeological sites in North America.  Plans have been ongoing to build a facility to accompany the existing trail and other outdoor learning experiences. The Centre will be a gathering place for healing and cultural activities including workshops and teaching, a community gallery, and will include meeting space  for Chiefs and Councils and other organizations and groups.

In December, 2009, a federal contribution of $420,000 was made to the proposed project, while the province is contributing $112,000.  The money go towards a site assessment, reforestation and planning for the 450-hectare site. The site must be studied before design and construction can begin in order to separate and protect it from public areas. It is expected to attract 50,000 visitors a year once complete.

For 5 days in June 2010, the province will be celebrating the 400th anniversary of the baptism of Grand Chief Henri Membertou.  Membertou was an important Mi’kmaq shaman and prophet, and became the first non-European to be baptised in New France (Canada). The festivities will include a re-enactment, a traditional Mi’kmaw village, dance and drum competitions, demonstrations by First Nation artisans, a free concert by Buffy Sainte Marie and an open-air mass.  It is expected to draw thousands of people  and will be one of the country’s largest powwows, known as Mawio’mi in Mi’kmaq.

“The Mi’kmaq people are grateful for the support we have received from all levels of government as we prepare to honour the life and legacy of a great Mi’kmaq leader and to celebrate our culture,” said Grand Keptin Andrew Denny. “The investment from Canadian Heritage will allow us to develop teaching tools that will be a lasting legacy of the Membertou 400 celebrations and to reach out to the broader community with a wonderful program of educational and entertaining events.”

Stil however, as Daniel Paul has said before regarding much of the province’s history, “Nova Scotia has diligently crafted an image that it is and has been for some time a racially equal society, which it wasn’t and to a large degree still isn’t.”


In 2006, the Atlantic Gaelic Academy was established.  It uses new teaching methods and technology to teach the Gaelic language. The Academy conducts in-person classes and distance learning throughout North America, at all levels using texts and materials with CDs and sound files by fluent Gaelic speakers. The Academy now has the largest number of Gaelic students of any organization in North America.

In 2007, The Office of Gaelic Affairs and the Highland Council recruited a fluent Gaelic-speaker from the Scottish  Gàidhealtachd to live and work in Cape Breton and assist with ongoing language learning activities.

Today more than a dozen public schools in the province offer Gaelic, as well as advanced programmes at Cape Breton, St Francis Xavier and Saint Mary’s Universities. The Nova Scotia Highland Village offers a bilingual interpretation site, presenting bi-lingual interpretation for visitors and offers programs for the local community members. The Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts in St. Ann’s program offering includes Gaelic summer classes.

The year 2009 marked the 146th Highland games in Antigonish and now features more than 50 activities. Close to 58% of the visitors were from out of Province, while more than 2,600 spectators and participants attended the event, with the resultant visitor expenditures totalling $781,000 in Antigonish County.

The annual Celtic Colours fall festival of 2009 in Cape Breton received international attention when it was presented on Celtic Music Radio, based in Glasgow, Scotland.

For 2010, Nova Scotia Tourism includes the following note on Celtic culture:

Nova Scotia is home to one of the few living Gaelic cultures outside of Scotland, setting us apart from other North American destinations. The old world has been shaped by the new on Cape Breton Island where Gaelic language, music, song, and dance are part of the cultural fabric and key to its identity, as well as an important niche for Nova Scotia’s tourism industry.

The plan notes that the Department has partnered with the Celtic Heart of North America Co-operative to play a key role in delivering this cultural experience. Currently, the Celtic Heart of North America is a cooperative representing the Highland Village, Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts, Celtic Colours International Festival, Celtic Music Interpretive Centre, Glenora Distillery, Féis an Eilein, and the municipalities of Inverness and Victoria counties.

The Tourism Plan also notes the following:

Value and experience are key – The focus on top-notch experiences is more important than ever.

The Celtic Heart of North America Co-operative is exactly that – industry members coming together – and we plan to creatively package our experience. We’ll have more to announce on that in the future, so please stay tuned!

Many Celtic festivals in the United States and abroad feature a Nova Scotian Kitchen party/ceilidh.


What is interesting and quite special to note is the way that these and other cultural groups have collaborated.  This is most visible in the musical performance of DRUM!

Beginning in 1999, and making its full-length debut in 2004, DRUM! takes the story of the rhythms of Nova Scotia and blends them on stage in a show that combines Aboriginal, Black, Acadian and Celtic music and culture.  “Possibly the most moving performance we’ve ever presented in our theatre,” said Darrell Bryan, Hall Manager, Greenville, Tennessee.

Along with DRUM!, many other events feature a blend of the local cultures, and have even combined Acadian and Jamaican cultures.

And finally, after 10 years of discussions and planning, the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve Association will be getting its first real funding.

In September 2009, an amount of $285,000 was given by the Government of Canada to the UNESCO endorsed biosphere reserve project and will receive $57,000 each year through 2013.

This investment will facilitate activities and projects within the Southwest Nova region related to conservation, sustainable development, and capacity building, as well as with co-ordination of projects such as community engagement, sustainable tourism, and promotion of other sustainable economic activities.

Nova Scotia writer, entertainer and folklorist Clary Croft continues to serve as the province (and region’s) un-official seanchaí (Gaelic for story-teller), Bruce Nunn serves as local know-it-all, and Nimbus Publishing in Halifax since 1978 has been publishing local content ranging from Nova Scotia cookbooks, folklore, history and so on.


Dangerous Liaisons

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Dangerous Liaisons (2004, The Netherlands) by Blerina Berberi 

“Princes, puffed up by false ideas of grandeur… Courts are the real centers of people’s corruption… real origin of moral evil” (Gellner, p. 290)

During the 18th century, according to Hygo, Sand and Schlegel, true love is confined to elite due to its ability to experience it in deep. But the elite was also the epicenter of moral decadence. Dangerous Liaisons is about true love, decadence and seduction.

The ideas in this period focused on the concepts of amour- propre, role-playing and self-esteem, which were considered to be quintessential to the One (one’s self) as for the whole society.

            In Crocker, Abbadie and other thinkers state that self-love is natural and equals happiness. Love of others is love of ourselves. In Dangerous Liaisons, happiness isn’t achieved by most characters, it’s a drama. Furthermore, the love for the others was defective, and we can suppose that since the characters didn’t love the others they didn’t love themselves. Thus this would explain the catastrophe. Spinoza states that self- love is associated with self-realization. Valmont achieves self-realization when he finds true love, Mme de Tourvel, thus realizes self- love, but still it didn’t  bear any happiness. Others characters realized themselves, as unable to love others (love themselves?), thus as evil due to the unhappy ending. But self- love leads Mme de Merteuil and Valmont at some extend to the assertion of their ego at the expense of others (seduction). But if self- love is natural none of the characters can be condemned.

Diderot focused on social forces and internal deficiencies. Role- playing determines personality and own reaction to oneself. According to Perkins, the role- playing of Mme de Merteuil and Valmont are masks worn to keep their position in society. The distinction between assumed and natural personality is complex. So it is possible that the ‘real’ Mme de Merteuil is hidden in her personality, due to the fact that she ‘studied’ arts of seduction, and presents to Valmont only some part of herself. She is jealous of Mme de Tourvel because she plays from heart, while herself she plays from the head. Mme de Tourvel is a threat to her self-concept, which she built up in years. So she doubts its utility. And she never steps out of her personality. Also Valmont said: “I often wonder how you manage to invent yourself”.

            Amour- propre was doubted as being worthy. Some thinkers believed that self- esteem determines the relations among people. The focus shifted in ego-assertion and projection. Thus Mme de Merteuil and Valmont were  motivated to dominate with their views by imposing them on others, even by risking personal pleasure by declaring still ‘WAR’. Specifically, Valmont said “It’s beyond my control”, thus he sacrificed his love and obeyed to Mme de Merteuil. They also used love for advancement in society and self-gratification (seduction). Mme de Merteuil knew the risk of asking Valmont to break up with Mme de Tourvel, but she wanted to prove her self as the dominant in the couple. Only (Romantic) passionate love of Valmont was strong versus ego-assertion and he got conversed by it.


Crocker, L.G., An Age of Crisis. Man and World in Eighteenth Century French Thought. Baltimore/ Londen: MacMillan & Co. p 256-278, (1970(1959))

Perkins, J.A., The concept of the Self in the French Enlightenment, Geneve, p. 69-83, 1969

Memorable Quotes from Dangerous Liaisons (1988) (

“The Brothers Karamazov”/ The Grand Inquisitor and Totalistic Classical Utilitarianism

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 Brothers Karamazov”/ The Grand Inquisitor and Totalistic Classical Utilitarianism (2005, The Netherlands) by Blerina Berberi

Ivan, the most complex character in The Brothers Karamazov tells to his brother Alyosha, who is a novice in the monastery, his unwritten “poem” of The Grand Inquisitor.

In this research the ideas of the Grand Inquisitor are compared to those of Classical Utilitarianism, in reference to Jeremy Bentham. Moreover, the “principles” of the Grand Inquisitor are regarded as resembling those of Utilitarianism and Totalitarianism. The criticism of the Grand Inquisitor’s utilitarian ideas shows similar shortcomings as the Classic Utilitarianism theory.

The story of the Grand Inquisitor starts with Jesus coming back in the 15th century, in Spain. The Grand Inquisitor immediately imprisons Him, and says that he will bury Him for the “universal happiness” of mankind. Before going into more details, Jeremy Bentham, one of the first philosophers who rejects references to God and abstract rules of the “heavens”, states that morality is not a matter to please God but is an attempt to bring happiness in this world (Rachels, p.92).

The Grand Inquisitor says to Jesus that for a long time man was “disturbed” by the notion of freedom which He gave to men, but the Grand Inquisitor says that, popes and church, have gotten rid of it, and “now we are rid of it for good” (Dostoevsky, p. 302). Thus they do not need Him. The Grand Inquisitor states that men are “rebel” and rebels cannot be happy, and they do not need His freedom since He rejected to make people happy. The pope says:

 “It is only now that it has become possible…to think of men’s happiness” (Dostoevsky, p.303).

Bentham advocated that religion would endorse the Utilitarian approach if its believers would take seriously their view of God as a benevolent creator (Rachels, p.95). More specifically he states:

“The dictates of religion would coincide …with those of utility, were the Being, who is the object of religion, universally supposed to be (as) benevolent…But among the votaries of religion there seem to be but few who are real believers in his benevolence. They call him benevolent in words, but they do not mean that he is so in reality” (Rachels, p.95).

The Grand Inquisitor, of whom Bentham seem to refer to, did once pursue the path of Jesus but he found it a mad cause, hence freedom, so then he turned to the “meek” for their happiness. Yet the Grand Inquisitor says to Jesus that he is not with him but with God (Dostoevsky, p.310). The Grand Inquisitor is thankful to God that let him the control over the church and he states that is only Jesus who is not benevolent while God has let his “benevolence” to the Grand Inquisitor. Thus the Grand Inquisitor considers himself more a benevolent men rather than a Christian one, since he deceives humanity in the name of God for the sole reason to establish human happiness. 

Happiness is crucial to Bentham and he states that morality should play a role in achieving happiness “down to earth”. The aim of Utilitarianism wasn’t just to have a different doctrine but also to make a change in practice. The Grand Inquisitor also aims for happiness on earth and he states that men will be happy under the church. But with the freedom that He gave to men, they will rise in rebellion and kill one another all over the world (Dostoevsky, p.311).

Is the Grand Inquisitor wrong in taking away freedom from men? The Principle of Utility holds that “every action whatsoever” which does not maximize the greatest happiness is morally wrong (Sweet, 2001). Furthermore, it is only the consequences that count. The Grand Inquisitor explains his actions in saying that Jesus did not provide bread to men but preferred freedom and the Grand Inquisitor says that it was wrong because men would say to him: “Feed us first, then ask for virtue” (Dostoevsky, p. 304). Furthermore, the Grand Inquisitor says to Jesus that he had the opportunity to give men happiness but he did not, such as did not show men that was son of God by plunging from the pinnacle when was crucified. The Grand Inquisitor tells to Him that he could have shortened the sufferings of all men, and there had been around a thousand years of torment. Yet it will be the church the only one who will feed men. The Grand Inquisitor states that peace is more attractive to man because the freedom of choice is very agonizing to men. Furthermore, the increase of freedom that Jesus gave men put a “torment on men’s soul”, which would bring confusion and misery. The Grand Inquisitor says to him that he “…leave them with so many anxieties and unsolved problems” (Dostoevsky, p.307).

          Also Bentham advocates that happiness is the good that all men deserve to have and that everyone should strive for. He defines happiness as being “determined by reference to presence of pleasure and the absence of pain” (Sweet, 2001). The Grand Inquisitor argues that if men would gain freedom they would rebel against the church, and men will then admit that:

“…He who created them rebels intended to mock them and no more. They will say it in despair and it will be blasphemy, and then they will be even more unhappy…” (Dostoevsky, p.309).

The Grand Inquisitor says to Jesus that He is prided among some chosen men, while the church “will bring peace of mind to all men” (Dostoevsky, p.311). 

Utilitarianism holds that every person’s happiness counts the same (Rachels, p.92). The Grand Inquisitor says that the church is also concerned about the weak. While He, according to Grand Inquisitor, considers the weak as the “material for the strong and mighty”. Later on, the Grand Inquisitor says that the great prophet had seen those men in the first resurrection, who were the children of freedom living in wilderness, and they were gods not men. But they were only around twelve thousands who bore Jesus cross. So the Grand Inquisitor says that He came just for the few and not about all the other men. Like Bentham, who states that “every man is worth as another”, the Grand Inquisitor wants to provide happiness to all humankind on earth.

According to Bentham, utility is also for legislators as for ordinary people. The purpose of law is same as that of morals to promote general welfare and that seems to be the case with the Grand Inquisitor, who considering himself as the legislator of humanity, wants to establish happiness, bread, and unity to mankind. But Bentham states, “if the law is to serve this purpose (general welfare), it should not restrict the freedom of citizens more than necessary” (Rachels, p. 96).

Thus Bentham states that a form of restriction of freedom might be necessary to promote general welfare, but “How much is it necessary?”. Bentham states that laws should not diminish but increase happiness. So the Grand Inquisitor promotes happiness among all men and increases happiness. The Grand Inquisitor states that all men will be happy apart from those who know the secret. He states:

“…everyone will be happy, all the millions of beings, with the exception of the hundred thousand men who are called upon to rule over them. For only we, the keepers of the secret will be unhappy.” (Dostoevsky, p.312).

The secret is that beyond death there is nothing. But the secret will be kept for their happiness. The Grand Inquisitor claims that those around Jesus have saved just themselves while the church “has saved all mankind”.

The Grand Inquisitor is a Utilitarian. He even sacrifices himself, and the others who know the truth about death, in order to maximize the happiness of all men on earth. The question of whether the Grand Inquisitor is wrong, would always be positive in the utilitarian perspective. Bentham claimed that whatsoever action that promotes happiness is morally right, thus the Grand Inquisitor cannot be wrong in his principles and doings. What about justice and men’s rights?

To conclude, the answer to this question also refers to the shortcomings of Bentham’s theory. As Rachels says, Utilitarianism is “incompatible with the ideal of justice (Rachels, p.106). Here the Grand Inquisitor does not treat people fairly and he consider human kind an “ant-heap” who just, according to him, have to be happy, after some of them will be buried at stake. What about men’s freedom to choose himself whether to believe in the church? The Grand Inquisitor states that burning heretics is for the happiness of all humanity, there will be some suffering but in the end people will be happy because they are not free, and freedom according to him “agonizes” and “confuses” men. Respecting human rights is also principle, which clashes with that of utility. It is not right not to have the freedom of speech, right to life itself, right to freedom of religion (Rachels, p.107).

Rachels claims that Utilitarianism is too demanding in stating that we have to concern for everyone. But even if we concern about everyone, would we still be right? The Grand Inquisitor wants to give happiness to men, but does he know what kind of happiness men want? The Grand Inquisitor states that bread, authority, mysticism, and unity are things that men need to be happy.

The main feature of the Grand Inquisitor is Totalitarianism because he considers himself and the church, as a form of government/state, which aims in absolute and centralized control over the society. His intentions are for good, utilitarian in principles but the actions in achieving “universal happiness” are not sound, as is the case also with Classical Utilitarianism. 


Dostoevsky F. (1981) The Brothers Karamazov, Trans. MacAndrew A. R., Bantam Classic Edition.

– Sweet W. (2001) Jeremy Bentham (1748- 1832), Moral Philosophy, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy,. Retrieved from:

– Rachels, J. (2003) The Elements of Moral Philosophy, 4th edition, New York: McGraw- Hill

Social Cohesion along the Durres-Kukes Highway – Connecting to or THROUGH

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Social Cohesion along the Durres-Kukes Highway – Connecting to or THROUGH

By: Ekphrasis Studio

June 29, 2009

TIRANA. Along Albania’s newest motorway, it now takes 1:40 minutes to drive from Durres to Kukes.  This is perfect for quick travel, trade, emergencies and is an amazing feat of engineering.  But what if I want to take it slower?  What if I want to learn about and celebrate this ‘newest’ part of Albania?  Is there any place – or reason to stop and visit?  Why was the celebration on June 25th only for the Democratic Party?  And was it just me, or was the crowd all men and mainly female singers on stage?! Interesting way of involving women in politics!

This article is based on a concept known as community cohesion, combined with the ever popular theme of tourism.  Cohesion in this sense refers to social interaction, the bond and togetherness a community has towards other members, including a common belonging and sense of cultural similarity.  A sense of cooperation to tell the collective story.  Tourism on the other hand is now one of the hottest words in the Albanian language, but it is still not well defined.  I will bluntly define tourism as “drawing in money from outside the community to improve the quality of life within the community, in exchange for worthwhile experiences and goods”.

Is there any incentive for us to visit these places along the new highway, or any worthwhile experiences awaiting?  Are there any attractions?  Reasons to live and work within that region?  Or is it just a motorway connecting point A with point B for a better Albanian economy? It sounds very easy to compete with the European market just by building a road. What about the Albanian market, what does it offer?

In rural settings – no matter how big the road going past is – you will get very few accidental visitors, therefore they must be drawn there for some reason, be it a market, museum, gallery, festival, park, or even just for a great snack!  In order to sustain these communities on more than just a possible gas station, we must also use the road to bring people to these places and not just bypass them.  We cannot simply expect the villagers to come Tirana, or Kukes bearing the fruits of their labour.

When a road does not connect the communities along its reach, it leads to decreased cohesion, resulting in lower property values and decreased housing quality over time, essentially a lower quality of life to the local inhabitants – and quality of life must always be at the forefront of any community.  Thus, a road that does not effectively connect people in a reciprocal way, can actually serve as little more than an exit or escape for villagers to move to the cities or hubs.

Elsewhere, to promote interest, community involvement with project managers and government officials led to the creation of grand gateway signs on the new Sea to Sky Highway in Western Canada, consisting of 2.5 meter high, illuminated faux-rock boulders at the North and South entrances of community regions, with both the official English town name and the Salish First Nations name in recognition, thus promotion of their history in the region.  This has given a reason for travelers to take notice and perhaps stop in a particular community, which gives the community an opportunity to tell their story, create a job, and help keep a local working in the region. 

While it’s too late now for additional ‘inaugurations’, it is never too late to celebrate the road.  Supposing there were events along the length of the road for the entire summer, it could invite all Albanians to see a ‘new’ part of the country, immediately bringing additional money to the communities along the road, who are now introducing their story.  This also would serve to establish ‘memorable’ spots for travelers, as places where major, minor, family, cultural, educational, etc., events have taken place.  This in turn leads to traditional stopping places (for ice cream, coffee, museum, park) – economic growth, exchange of ideas, tourism, and finally, increased quality of life. 


As a way to tell the stories, bridges, tunnels, sections of road, rest-stops, view points, can be named after local and regional historical figures, ie. celebrating an ancient local road builder, a rancher, an administrator, veterans, a female hero, an herbal remedy, etc. to introduce and promote local history and customs.   

 How about the story of the former ‘Independent’ Republic of Mirdite, with its capital in Rreshen in 1921?  That Mirdite was the most distinctive region for the traditions of the Kanun. 


Or the 900 year old church in Rubik, that was once called ‘the most beautiful in the world’?  The ancient Ulti tree planted atop the ‘Mountain of Saint’ by the Benedictines?  The travels of Edith Durham?  The 1927 Bridge of Zog?  The mining history (and future) of Reps?  The abundance of gold, nickel, copper and chrome in the region?


Not every traveler knows the local or regional history, and certainly not every traveler cares, however there are more than enough who do have an interest to know these things, and would be willing to pay to know more.  Vignettes (in photographs, but also literature) of the stories of the people living along the road, not just the ones who built it.  An annual bike race, or a classic car rally, with stops in the villages now accessible thanks to the road could be an idea.  Or a new National Park?  These are just a few of countless creative ways to bring people of all demographics not just onto the road, but also to get OFF of the road, and into these newly accessible places.

Ekphrasis Studio is an Arts Management & Creative Industries Provider operating in Tirana. Co-directors Kevin Tummers and Blerina Berberi have Masters Degrees in Arts & Culture: Management, Policy & Education, Universitet Maastricht, The Netherlands, focused on tourism policy & development through inter-cultural dialogue and projects.

Rozafa: A Psychoanalytic and Symbolic Interpretation

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Rozafa: A Psychoanalytic and Symbolic Interpretation (2005, The Netherlands) by Blerina Berberi



Introduction p. 4

1. Rozafa p. 5 – 6

2. Analysis p. 6

2.1. Interpretation of some Symbols in Rozafa p. 7 – 19

2.2. The depth psychological contents of Rozafa p. 19- 24

3. Conclusion p. 24 – 25

Reference bibliography p. 26



I am most grateful for the encouragement and advice for exploring this beautiful story to Dr. Maria Kardaun.

Special thanks to my family and relatives in Shkodra.



In contrast to many Western countries, Albanians call their country, motherland. The woman is a very respectful character throughout Albanian history. The female character has always been shown as amiable toward their family, and especially toward their husbands in times of war after they returned safely back home. Nevertheless, during war times women have fought too, side-by-side with other men.

The Albanian Collection of Old Stories presents ballads and folk rhapsodies, which have their origin in the Illyrian times.

As Kuteli advocates, the legendary and historic songs aim in presenting the highest values of the country, which are bravery and the invincible resistance against the enemy to protect the country and honor.

Some of the stories are about war and heroes, who really fought against enemies to protect their honor and the honor of their family, friends, and that of the country. The character of the heroes shows their good and bad characteristics. But what now has remained is just the ‘skeleton’ of the songs, the story, while poetry is lost (Kuteli, 1987, p. 6).

Rozafa is the story of a castle and that of a mother and bride. As many other castles in Albania, the one in Shkodra, which holds the name of Rozafa, has an

interesting and perplexing story. Throughout this paper, Rozafa is interpreted firstly on the symbolic meaning of different elements in the story, which is basically a complex net of different systems of beliefs. Since the symbolic meaning does not presently bear too much meaning because of the different beliefs at the present,thus different questions raised by the story are difficult to answer. Therefore, the interpretation is followed by a more accurate understanding of Rozafa by the application of Carl Gustav Jung depth psychology theory, with an emphasis in the mother complex and anima, which provides a clearer meaning and explanation of the story. The following quote by Jung is crucial to the interpretation of the story and will be explained in the coming pages:

“How else could it have occurred to man to divide the cosmos, on the analogy of day and night, summer and winter, into a bright day-world and a dark night-world peopled with fabulous monsters, unless he had the prototype of such a division in himself, in the polarity between the conscious and the invisible and unknowable unconscious? (Jung, 1968, p.101)

National History Museum, Tirana


1. Rozafa

Rozafa is the story of a woman, mother, wife and that of a castle, a city, country and its people. This story is believed to have been created before the foundation of the city of Shkodra, which was founded in the 4th century B.C. Nowadays, the castle of Rozafa is to be found in one of the mountains of this city, northern Albania, close to the river of Buna which ends in the shores of the Adriatic sea.

Briefly, the story is about three brothers who wanted to build a castle but it was ruined during the night. Only the sacrifice of the youngest bride, called Rozafa,

made the walls stand even until the present times. Moreover, this story is orally passed through generations, and is believed to have been a rhapsody since there is a lot of repetitive elements and the “o” element, which increases emotional chanting.

However, what remains today is the following story (Kuteli, 1987, p. 7-11):

The mist covered the Buna river for three days and three nights. After three days and three nights the wind blew the mist up to the hill of Valdanuz. On the top of that hill there were three brothers building up a castle. The wall they built during the day collapsed during the night, so they could not built it higher.

There passes an old wise man and says: Good job, o three brothers!

The brothers, reply: Thank you. But where do you see our good job? We work during the day and at night the wall collapses. Can you tell us any good and wise word; what can we do to build up these walls? The old man replies: I know but it’s a sin for me to tell it to you.

The brothers: Put that sin unto us (our heads) because we want to make this castle stand up.

The old man thinks and then asks: Are you married, o brave men? Do you have your three brides?

The brothers: We are married and we have our three brides. Just tell us what do we have to do in order to built this castle.

The old man: If you want to build the castle and make the walls stand, you have to give your oath: Don’t tell your brides, don’t talk at your house about what I will tell you. The one of the three brides who will come to bring you the food (lunch) tomorrow, you have to immure (wall up) her alive in the wall of the castle. Then you will see that the wall will rise and continue to exist forever.

The old man said this and left. The older brother didn’t keep the promise (besa: oath) and he told his bride about the story so she would not come the next day. The middle brother did the same, he told everything to his bride. Only the younger brother kept his promise, he did not tell anything to his wife.

In the morning the brothers wake up early and go to work. The hammers hit, the rocks break, the hearts beat, the walls get higher…

At home, the mother of the sons doesn’t know anything.

She says to the oldest son’s bride: The masters want bread, water and wine.

The older son’s bride replies: Dear mother, I cannot go today because I am ill.

She asks the middle brother’s bride: The masters want bread, water and wine.


She replies: Dear mother, I cannot go today because I have to go and visit my family and relatives.

The mother asks the younger son’s bride: You, young bride…

She stands up immediately and says: Yes, mother!

The mother says: The masters want bread, water and wine.

The young bride replies: Dear mother, I would go but I have to take care of my young son. I’m afraid he will need me and cry.

The other brides say: You can go, we will take care of him.

The young bride, Rozafa, takes the bread, water and wine, kisses her son in the chicks and goes at the brothers. She salutes them: Good job, o masters!

But the hammers don’t hit the rocks and the hearts beat strong. Their faces get pale.

When the young brother sees his bride, he puts away his hammer and curses the rock and the wall. His bride says: What is it my dear? Why do you curse the rock

and the wall?

The older brother says: You were born on a bad (black) day. We have agreed that we have to immure you alive in the wall of the castle.

She replies: I wish you health, my dears. But I have to leave you my will: when you will immure me, you have to leave outside the wall my right eye, right hand, right leg, and my right breast because my son is young and when he will cry I shall watch him with one eye, with one hand I shall pat my son, with one leg I shall wiggle his bed and with one breast I shall feed him. I will get immured, the castle will stand high, and my son will become a brave king.

They take the young bride and immure her at the wall. The walls rise higher and they do not collapse as they did before. Nowadays, the wall is wet because there continues to drop the tears of the mother for her son…Her son grew up, fought wars and reigned bravely.

And this is how the story of Rozafa ends. But Rozafa’s sacrifice contributed not only to the existence of the walls of the castle that protected Rozafa’s family (family member in Albania, is everyone who lives under the same roof) but it also secured the other people of the generations to come from the abominable enemies.

2. Analysis

The study of symbols is sometimes considered to be a weak interpretation in trying to understand the human character, events, culture and history. Maybe nowadays, such a type of interpretation is considered not a ‘scientific’ explanation. But centuries ago people did not know about science, and their culture was a grid of symbols in which they held their beliefs. Therefore, in order to understand Rozafa, the first tentative is its interpretation according to the ancient people’s beliefs in the symbols.

After that, by ‘exercising’ depth psychological theories we can understand their creation, meaning, and life. The most crucial theory to be applied is that of Jung, while Freud’s theory of the Oedipus complex is merely a small contribution to an alternative.


2.1. Interpretation of some

of the Symbols in Rozafa

As can be noticed from the story of Rozafa, there are a lot of symbols, which we have to believe to be pagan since Christian-ism was not yet founded at the time the story was created. These pagan symbols, however do correspond to a certain extent with the Christian ones, since Christianity evolved from pagan religions and similar elements are found in them. Nevertheless, other religions and beliefs do contribute to the following interpretation. This interpretation tends to dehumanize the story by focusing on the interpretation of the possible pagan and Christian symbols.

Some of the questions, which come up from, this story are: Where is the father of the brothers? Who was the man that confessed the secret of the castle to the

brothers? Why the younger brother kept his oath, and the other older brothers did not? And why was Rozafa, not any other person or object, sacrificed? This questions will be answered later on, but now let’s see the interpretation of the symbols.

Rozafa starts with a mist, which had covered the river for three days and three nights, being blown by the wind in a hill where the three brothers were working on the wall of the castle. The mist is thought of being vague but it still brings new shapes. In more details the mist is interpreted as such:

“Symbol of the indeterminate, of a phase in development when shapes have yet to be defined or when old shapes are vanishing and have yet to be replaced by definite new shapes. It is also a symbol of the mixture of Air, Water, and Fire which existed prior to the creation of solid matter…as it was before the six days’ Creation and before all things were given their shape…mists are regarded as preludes to important revelations, prologues to manifestation. … Also God when he met Moses said that he came with a thick Cloud in order for the people to hear while he speaks and believe for ever (Exodus 19:9)” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 661)

Therefore, the mist will bring new shapes and in Rozafa’s context it means that it will give a definite shape to the castle. The Christian interpretation suggests that there was mist for six days before the world was created. Since the mist had covered the river for three days and three nights, thus six days, it can be already acknowledged that in the seventh day the castle will be created. In the story it is also stated that the next morning Rozafa had to be sacrificed in order to keep the walls standing. Since in Exodus, God appears with a Cloud or mist, it can be also possible that the mist in Rozafa symbolizes God, or the father of the brothers, who is missing in the story.

Furthermore, the old wise men that appears after or with the mist, tells the secret to the brothers which will make the wall and the castle stand. It is possible to think of this old man as God or his Holy Spirit, shown in the form of man, since he is the only one who knows the secret.


But why did the mist stand on the river and not immediately appear on the hill, at the castle? The river is believed to have some features, which maybe were necessary for the ‘mist’ to have them in order to get blown up by the wind at the top of the hill.

The river is:

“The symbolism of rivers and running WATER is simultaneously that of ‘universal potentiality’ and that of ‘the fluidity of forms’, of fertility, death and renewal. The stream is that of life and death.” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 808-810)

The mist, which would bring the definite shape of the castle, was mixed with some predicting elements for the story, which would bring life and death. As we know, the brothers by walling up Rozafa secured the continuation of life for the coming generations and that of her child, husband and relatives.

Since the mist was blown up in the hill by wind, let us see the interpretation of the wind:

“…it is a symbol empty- headedness, fickleness and instability. … On the other hand wind is synonymous with BREATH and consequently with the Spirit, a heaven-sent spiritual influx…God’s messengers. Wind even gives its name to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God moving across the face of the primordial WATERS is called Ruah, ‘Wind’ … Winds were also the instruments of God’s power, bringing life, punishing and teaching.” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 1110-1112)

The empty- headedness, fickleness and instability are characteristics that can be attributed to the two older brothers who did not keep the oath. The other

interpretation holds that the Spirit of God, its messengers, brought up the mist to the hill. Since the mist, coming from the river, brought an old wise man then in Christian interpretation that would mean that wind, the Holy Spirit, has brought God or just God’s instruments which are bringing life, punishing and teaching. In this case it seems that the younger brother was punished and his bride Rozafa brought life to the next generations, while the other brothers were taught by this event. But why would God “punish” the younger brother since he was the only one who kept the promise? This interpretation would be more correct if we would consider the role of the female in Christian religion that is in general devalued. Thus the punishment might have been directed to Rozafa herself and not to any of the brothers.

Another symbol in the story are the three brothers. We can ask, why they were three? The three brothers can be related to the three lords in Classical mythology, which were lords of the Universe: Zeus, lord of Heaven; Poseidon, Lord of the Sea; and Hades lord of the Underworld. The Earth belongs to all of them.

It can be possible that the younger brother symbolizes Zeus since he through his Faith in the old man made possible the unification of the Heaven and Earth, through the sacrifice of Rozafa. While the other two lords who have kind of negative characteristics might be said to be the other two brothers, whose presence then might be thought as being the cause of the instability of the castle and the walling up of Rozafa. Still, the number three has other interpretations. According to Chevalier and Gheerbrant, three also symbolizes:


“…the culmination of manifestation, since Man, the son of Heaven and Earth, completes the Great Triad…Three theological virtues, Faith, Hope and Charity.”

(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p.993)

The three theological virtues, Faith, Hope and Charity do somehow correspond with each of the brothers’ character. The younger brother might be Faith, since he kept his oath while the other two brothers, each of them, might have Hoped that the other brothers will not tell to their brides but keep the oath, so the sacrifice will be done by another brother. It can also be said that the older brothers showed Charity toward their brides in order not to get immured, walled up. In the Christian context it can be believed that the creation of Man, which is the son of Heaven and Earth, would not be accomplished without the (half) female element, Rozafa. The creation of Man might even stand for the castle in this story, which had the masculine element from the work of the three brothers but missed the female aspect.

So far we know, that the mist had covered a river, was blown in the hill and there were the three brothers working on the wall of the castle. The hill is interpreted as:

“…the first manifestation of the creation of the world, standing high enough to be set apart from the primeval Chaos…” ( Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 506)

This means that the hill symbolizes the possibility of creation since it is set apart from the old and starting Chaos, but what was actually necessary in its creation was the ‘message’ of God sent by his messenger or the presence of God to reveal the secret to the brothers and of course the female element, thus Rozafa’s sacrifice. The presence of the old man might also, as stated before, symbolize the ‘ghost’ of their father, which they did not recognize maybe because they did not know him since he might have died or left home when they were really young.


The three brothers in the story are trying to build a castle. The castle is commonly perceived as a symbol of protection. In more details:

“The castle, fortress or stronghold is the near-universal symbol of humanity’s inner refuge, the CAVERN of the heart, that place of privileged intercourse between the soul and its God, or the Absolute. The Psalmist compares God himself with such a stronghold…. They are symbols of protection. … Thus castles are placed among the symbols of transcendence…Spiritual transcendence is the castle’s protection. …The ‘white castle’ is a symbol of achievement, of destiny perfectly fulfilled and of spiritual perfection.” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p.161-162)

This interpretation acknowledges that castles include mysteries as this one about Rozafa. By taking into account the interpretation of the castle as the intercourse between soul and its God, the question would be: Whose soul was to have intercourse with God? Apparently, was Rozafa’s (half?) soul. So did God in order to make that castle stand, needed the sacrifice of Rozafa and intercourse with (half?) her soul? Possibly, but not necessarily. In perspective the castle would protect and secure also the three brothers, the other two brides, the mother of the brothers, Rozafa’s son and the other generations to come. Thus Rozafa’s sacrifice aim was to establish the continuous God’s spiritual transcendence with the rest of humanity.

The castle of Rozafa is a white one. Even though it is considered to be a hill in relation to the high surrounding mountains, it is still formed of white rocks that the hill itself has. According to Chevalier and Gheerbrant, the achievement in building this castle would mean that a destiny is fulfilled and that there is a spiritual perfection. The creation of the castle and its destiny are explained by the white color but the spiritual perfection is an element, which required the (half?) soul, half body, or other elements of a female.

The main problem in the story that the three brothers had, is building the wall of the castle. The wall is:

“…the enclosure which guarded and shut in a world to avoid the invasion of evil influences originating at some lower level. Walls had the disadvantage of restricting the realms which they enclosed, but the advantage of ensuring their defense while leaving the way open for the reception of heavenly influences…. In Ancient Egypt the symbolic properties of a wall were based upon its height, since it bore the meaning of rising above ordinary levels. However, the building of fortresses means that the first sense was also present in the defense of frontiers” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p.1076).

According to Chevalier and Gheerbrant, the cracks in a wall mean that there are diabolic influences. These diabolic properties ‘forbidding’ the wall to stand up seem to have a ‘condition’, which is the sacrifice of Rozafa. Another interpretation can be that the mist that came up in the hill and the ‘confession’ of the old man about the secret of the castle could mean that it was the ‘will of God’ to let this castle be built,


since the creation of this castle would bring in the future the people living there closer to Heaven, and above ordinary levels as the Ancient Egyptians believed.

Still, walls are also interpreted as such:

“Walls are interruptions to intercommunication with their twofold psychological repercussions- security which stifles and protection which imprisons. In this context, wall symbolism may be related to the passive and female aspect of that of the womb”

(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p.1077)

Since walls, as the female aspect of the womb, are passive we can state that the sacrifice of Rozafa was necessary since her female side of the body, or just her female characteristics are the ones that the wall did not have so far but would be appropriated by her being walled up. Nevertheless, the wall is considered to be a defense, which of course would strengthen the self and existence of the coming generations.

The figure of the old man, which it seems to have appeared during the mist, up in the hill is apart from the previous interpretation that it can be the Holy Spirit, God himself, or the Father of the three brothers, is explained in relation to old age as such:

“Where old age is regarded as a sign of wisdom and righteousness- priests were originally old men, in the sense of wise men who gave guidance…old age has always been respected, this is because it is the image of longevity, of experience and wisdom acquired over the years, itself no more than a flawed image of immortality.”

(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 715)

The old age seems to give no real indication of who might have been the old man. But the attributes that this man has such as immortality, longevity, etc., can be regarded as those of God or Holy Spirit. So it can be possible that God disguised as human appeared to the brothers and told the secret. If this old man would be the ghost of the Father, it would have been possible that the brothers would have recognized him. In general, the ghosts of know persons do appear in the same image, as they were alive, thus not disguised, as is also the case in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Most interestingly the old man asked from the three brothers to keep the oath of the secret he told. The oath, which in Albanian is called Besa, in the Albanian tradition is believed to be a very important action or element of the culture among people. Even at the present, giving the word or keeping the oath, besa, is considered a valuable factor in relationship with friends and other people. However, as Kuteli states in the introduction, in all the stories people are described as having also bad characteristics.

Anyway, the oath’s symbolic interpretation is as follows:

“An oath may be seen as the symbol of an accord with whatever being, divine, cosmic or human, who has been invoked as surety.” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant,

1996, p.102)


As we know, only the youngest brother kept the oath. Earlier on, it is stated that the younger brother, who might represent Faith, did not tell his bride about what the old man said. If the old man is believed to be God or Holy Spirit, disguised as a human, it would be contradictory that they knew a secret and that was a sin if they told it. It is possible that this was just a test in order to have as a sacrifice something, which came by Faith in God, and consequently would be more pure, pristine and valuable, as Rozafa was by being willing to sacrifice under the condition of also serving to Heaven, God and Earth, her son and future generations. Furthermore, this interpretation can be sustained also by the interpretation of sacrifice, which is:

“The sacrifice is set apart, too, from the rest of the world which remains profane, separated from itself and given to God as a token of dependence, obedience, repentance or love. …Sacrifice is a symbol of the ‘renunciation of the ties of Earth through love of the spirit’ or of the godhead. …Sacrifice is linked to the notion of interchange on the level of spiritual or creative energy. The more valuable the material object, the more potent will be the spiritual energy given in return, whether the object of sacrifice be purification or propitiation. …In the Old Testament, the act or motion of sacrifice symbolizes human recognition of God’s supremacy”(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 818- 819).

Thus the younger brother, who might have not known what the old man represents, which might be God or the Holy Spirit, by keeping the oath ‘recognized God’s supremacy’. This kind of recognition did of course cause his bride, Rozafa, to be sacrificed as ‘the more valuable object’. So far it appears that Rozafa was the right sacrifice to be done, since her husband was the one who was faithful to God, Holy Spirit, and she was the most valuable bride, which would make the castle stand.

In the story, the father figure is missing, but the mother figure is very important since she is the one who ‘commands’ the brides at home. She also asks them to send water, wine and bread to the masters. These three elements, water, bread and wine are interpreted as such:

Bread- “…plainly the symbol of basic nourishment. …bread is the nourishment to his (man) spiritual nourishment, to Christ in the Eucharist, the ‘bread of life’. This is the ‘sacred bread of eternal life’ of which the Catholic liturgy speaks. … Traditionall BETHEL, the ‘House of God’, the STONE set up by Jacob, became ‘House of Bread’.

The House of Stone is changed into the House of Bread, that is to say, the symbolic presence of God is changed into the physical presence of God as spiritual food…”

(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 118)

This interpretation of the symbol of bread means that the bread brought to the masters by the bride would basically nourish them, and it will also give ‘eternal life’

to the brothers. It can be possible that the intention of the mother to send bread to her sons, masters, building the castle would make the castle the ‘House of God’ by changing the physical presence of God, which can be the old man, into a spiritual food. But of course that does not seem to suffice the walls of the castle to stand. Thus we can state that the exchange for the ‘spiritual food’ in this case is Rozafa being


immured in order to make the wall stand, but it can also be that the spiritual food would be the Faith that the older brothers would have in the future. The other element which was to be sent to the brothers, is water, which means:

“It is a source of life, a vehicle of cleansing (purification) and a center of regeneration (life). …In Jewish and Christian tradition, water in the first place symbolizes the beginnings of creation. …As the source of all things, water makes manifest the transcendent and from this very fact should be regarded as a revelation of holiness.

…Water is the source both of life and of death, is creator and destroyer.”

(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 1081- 1082)

Once again, as is also the symbol of the river interpreted, which holds the elements of death and life, the symbol of water stresses the idea of creation and destruction, life and death. Since water also symbolizes the beginning of creation, purification and life then it is possible to admit that these elements might have been sent to purify the spirit of the two older brothers who did not keep the oath. But it is also possible that water was not sent just for the masters working in the hill, but maybe as elements of a ritual. But before we jump to conclusions, let’s see what wine symbolizes. Chevalier and Gheerbrant state:

“…wine is the beverage of life or of immortality. Especially, but not exclusively, in Semitic tradition it is in addition the symbol of knowledge and of initiation, because of the INTOXICATION which it causes. …In Chinese secret societies, rice wine was mixed with blood for their member oath-taking and, as the communal drink, allowed members to reach ‘the age of one hundred and ninety’. Such, too, is the significance of the chalice with the ‘blood of Christ in the Eucharist and prefigured in the sacrifice of Melchizedek. This brings us back, too, to the idea of sacrifice which may at the same time be that of the abandonment of self-restraint associated with intoxication.

…Wine as the symbol of knowledge and initiation… To St Clement of Alexandria, wine was to bread what the contemplative life and gnosis were to the active life and faith…In Old Testament tradition, wine was first and foremost a symbol of joy and then, in more general terms, of all gifts which God lavishes upon mankind.”

(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 1113)

These three elements bread, water and wine might have been just nourishment for the brothers, or maybe were elements needed as an omen for the event to come, or possibly a sign of the ritual that is necessary in order for an event to occur. The mother did not know anything about the old man’s secret and her sons’ oath. It would also be possible to interpret these three elements as each of these corresponding to each of the three brothers characters.

Rozafa’s will as she herself states is to nourish and take care of her young child.

What is important here is not just the parts of her body that were left out of the wall, but also the idea of her right side of the body being left out. Since Rozafa is very old, and was created during the pagan beliefs in that region the first and best explanation would be according to the Celts:


“Whatever follows its (sun’s) path is ‘right’, whatever goes in the opposite direction is ‘left’ ” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p.802)

The Celts also believed that right was lucky and a good omen. But relating this belief in the Sun with the previous interpretation in the beginning of the story is difficult since it is basically more Christian. Anyway, according to the Christian tradition, right is considered to be:

“In the Old Testament, to look to one’s right hand is to look towards the side upon which one’s protector stands (Psalm 142: 4). …The left is the direction to Hell, the right that of Heaven. Some Rabbinical commentators explain that Adam, the first man, was hermaphrodite, his right side being male and his left female. When God created ‘male or female’ he split him down in the middle. This tradition affected medieval Christian thought, which held that the left side was the female side and the right, the male. …To the Ancient Greeks, the right was the side ‘of the arm which shakes the spear’ (Aeschylus, Agamemnon 115). …Good omens appeared on the right hand, which symbolizes strength, skill and success. …In Western Christian tradition, right has the connotation of the active and left of the passive.”

(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 801- 804)

Pagan God, Ancient Illyrian

The right side of Rozafa’s body would mean that it was left out of the wall, not in shadow, in order to have the property of looking at the protector, God or being in the direction of Heaven. Since the pagans believed that the ‘protector’ was the Sun, we can once again claim that Rozafa’s right side of the body would look to the Sun since it was not immured. By referring to the Rabbinical commentators, since Adam’s right side was male and the left female, it would be possible that Rozafa’s right side was the male part. If the old man was God or the Holy Ghost, then this sacrifice by Rozafa was meant to give to God back his male part that he had given to the female. But the Ancient Greeks’ interpretation would definitely fit with Rozafa’s will as nourishment and care of her son with her strongest side of the body, thus the right side that would make her son brave and successful. Since the right posses better qualities compared to the left, and the right is active and presents the future, we can infer that her will would be fulfilled.


Rozafa explains her will, by stating that her right eye would watch her son when he will cry, with her right hand she will patty her son, with one hand she will wiggle his bed, and with one breast she will feed him. This seems to be a very logical reasoning including all the functions of the parts of the body in relation to taking care of her son, but let’s take a look at what these elements symbolize:

Eye– “It is only natural that the eye, the organ of visual perception, should almost universally be takes as a symbol of intellectual perception.” (Chevalier/

Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 362 )

This intellectual perception would be one the ‘gifts’ that Rozafa would offer to her son. Furthermore, Chevalier and Gheerbrant advocate that the eye is also the divine knowledge, which unifies God with the soul and the First Cause with manifestation. That would mean that Rozafa would be the soul and the manifestation.

The other part of Rozafa’s body is the hand. The hand is interpreted as power, royalty, God’s right hand with mercy, etc. More specifically the hand is:

“The hand expresses ideas of action, as well as those of power and dominion. …The hand is an emblem of royalty, an instrument of command and a sign of dominion. …Traditionally, God’s left hand is concerned with justice and his right hand with mercy… The right hand is the hand which blesses. …In both Old Testament and Christian traditions the hand is the symbol of power and of supremacy. To be touched by the hand of God was to receive the manifestation of his spirit. When the hand of God laid hold of a man, the latter received into himself divine strength. (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 466- 470)

By following this interpretation, Rozafa’s right hand would command her son and give him power and dominion. In relation to the ‘emblem of royalty’, the right hand would define her son’s future as becoming a king. In the same time, Rozafa’s right hand would bless her son and if her right hand which was the right direction of the Sun, the male part, the more active, skilful one, etc., would be touched by the God, or maybe it would pass the divine strength to her son.

The other element is the leg. Chevalier and Gheerbrant advocate:

“The limb for walking, the leg is a symbol of social bonding. It allows individuals to approach one another, promotes contact and removes separation and therefore derives its importance from the social order. … By extension, the leg is to the body of society what the penis is to the human body. It is the instrument of maternal and social relationships…Like the penis, the leg is a symbol of life. …To bare one’s leg means to display one’s power and virility.” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 594)


The leg as the symbol of life and of social bounding clearly states the relationship of Rozafa with her son who wanted to be half alive to take care of her son and continue to live. The last interpretation which states that ‘baring one’s leg displays power and virility’, does supplement the idea, as mentioned before, that Rozafa’s right side is actually her male part. Virility and power would be the main elements that she shows to her son, which will influence his becoming in the future. But Rozafa has also a female symbol on her right side.

The last element that Rozafa wills not to be walled up is the breast. The breast is related as in contrast with the leg, more to the female characteristics. More specifically:

“The symbol of protection and of measure(ment). …The breast is connected with the female principle, that is to say with measure in its sense of restriction, since measurement is restricted to the object measured. This is in contradiction to the male principle, which is limitless and measureless. The right breast symbolizes the Sun, the left the Moon. But above all breasts are symbols of motherhood, comfort, security and plenty. They are connected with fertility and with MILK, the first nourishment, and associated with pictures of intimacy, giving and protection.” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996,p. 118)

Here, again, the right breast symbolizes the Sun. As Rozafa willed, with her right breast she would feed her son and give protection. The idea of measurement and restriction can be interpreted as an intensive caution to her son’s development, which might also have negative effects in the future. But since the story end with her son becoming a brave warrior, this interpretation would not fit in the story.

In the beginning of this section, it is stated that the old wise man who appeared and revealed the secret about the castle to the brothers, might also symbolize their father.

The symbol of father is interpreted as follows:

“…a symbol of procreation, ownership, domination and courage, the father is an inhibiting and, in psychoanalytic terms, a castrating figure. He stands for all figures of authority in education, employment, the armed forces, the law, and for God himself. …one which discourages attempts at independence and exercises an influence which impoverishes, constrains, undermines, renders impotent and makes submissive. …He is the fountain of social order…” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p.372- 373)

If the old wise man would be the father of the brothers then Rozafa can be explained in different ways. But since the symbol of father is interpreted as really dominant and castrating then it is impossible that the old man was the father of the brothers, who might have not recognized him since they might have never known him if he for example died in a war. The symbol of the father which is missing in this story, would then lead to the idea that the three brothers did not have any courage, education, and other skills which might have helped them in order to build the castle. So, apart from the interpretation that the castle was not standing up in the


beginning because of evil spirits we can add that the brothers lacked the proper skills in building the castle. Thus the castle would be built with the sacrifice of Rozafa in accordance with the ‘message’ of the Holy Spirit or God himself, who might have appeared as the old man. In this story, the father would symbolize more God rather than a human father figure.

In Rozafa the role of the mother of the three brothers seems at first not to be very important. As we can understand from the story, her activities as those of the brides had nothing to do with building the castle. But the mother was the one who ‘ordered’ the brides to go and send water, wine and bread to the masters. Still the interpretation of the mother, might be of more importance in explaining Rozafa’s character rather than that of the mother of the brothers. The Celts believed in the mother as:

“…in Celtic religious concepts, women played an important role either as messengers from the Otherworld or as sole possessors of the right of kingship and as war- goddesses. There was, however, one sole and unique female deity with varied aspects, in contrast with separate and distinct male deities. The female deity counterbalanced the ‘Almighty Father’ and since, although he was the father of mankind, he lacked virility, she was both virgin and mother of the gods.”

(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p.678- 679)

This description of the mother in this interpretation fits much better with Rozafa, rather than the mother of the brothers. This sole and unique female deity is Rozafa, who with the her will really complies with the idea as a possessor of the right of kingship, which would pass to her son the right of kingship, and as a war- goddesses who wishes her future son to became a good and brave warrior by inheriting her skills. The other interpretation which states that ‘the female deity counterbalanced the ‘Almighty Father…’ would explain the story in a whole different way. The ‘Almighty Father’ or his messengers (if he had any) might have appeared as the old man to the brothers since on purpose they or he might have needed the ‘male element’ of Rozafa which she might have developed during her life, so he the ‘Almighty Father’ would put a sin on the brothers’ head in order to take away from Rozafa her dark side, which in this case would mean the right side that should have been the properties of a male, which in the end her son received. Thus we can state that Rozafa’s sacrifice would make the castle stand only if she gave away her maleness to a man, her son. This means that the ‘Almighty Father’ did justice on earth.

But the mother as a symbol is also interpreted in different ways:

“…related to that of EARTH and the SEA, in the sense that all three are WOMBS and wells of life. Earth and sea are themselves symbols of the mother’s body. …Life and death are interdependent. To be born is to emerge from the mother’s womb; to die is to return to Earth. Mothers are anchors of shelter, warmth, love and nourishment.

…Christianity mystically transposes the Mother into the Church, conceived as a community from which Christians can draw nourishment in the life of grace, but from which they may also suffer intolerable spiritual despotism, such is the human


capacity to corrupt. On the other hand, the Divine Mother symbolizes the most perfect sublimation of instinct and the most profound harmony of love.”

(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p.677- 679)

In the interpretation of the symbol number three, it is advocated that there have been three brothers in Classical mythology, who were lords of the Universe: Zeus, lord of Heaven and Earth; Poseidon, Lord of the Sea; and Hades lord of the Underworld. It is discussed each of the brothers would be each lord. If we would think of these lords as being ladies, then we can state that since mother is a symbol of Earth and Sea which including the mother would make three wombs, then there at the castle a young mother, Rozafa, was walled up in order to have the element of Earth and Sea which would later on would make possible the unification of the castle that could be the ‘street’ between the Underworld and Heaven. But her mother care would still be proper to her son by taking care of him with a lot of love. The Divine Mother in the Christian religion would still share the same emotions toward her son, but still there are no clues in the story of whether Rozafa’s son was born in the same way as Jesus.

Now, let us turn back to the questions posed in the beginning: Where is the father of the brothers? In Rozafa the father, might have also been presented to the brothers as the old man who told them the secret but they would have noticed him. It can be possible that the old man might have appeared with the mist so the brothers did not see clearly who was the man talking to them. Still, it can be that the old man was the father, because as suggested sometimes earlier, the father of the brothers might have been dead long ago and the brothers did not know or remember him anymore since they might have been too young when they saw him for the last time. The most interpretable part of the story is that done through Christian symbols, which leaves the real father out of the picture and substitutes him with God, Holy Spirit, etc.

The other question was: Who was the man that confessed the secret of the castle to the brothers? Well, as also stated above the Christian and Pagan interpretation would interpret him as a supernatural Father, who for the Christians could be God, Holy Spirit and for the Pagans just the ‘Almighty Father’.

Why the younger brother kept his oath, and the other older brothers did not? The most plausible interpretation would be that the younger brother was the one who showed faith first of all to his brothers. He might have believed that none of them would tell anything home, so that he did not tell to his wife or mother about the old man and the sacrifice. Other interpretation that can be attached to him is the one that sees him as being Zeus. Maybe the younger brother was just the better person who taught a lesson to his ‘bad’, selfish, etc., brothers.

And why was Rozafa sacrificed? The faith of the younger brother in keeping his oath, made Rozafa a more valuable ‘object’ of sacrifice. Also it can be that God wanted her sacrifice, in order to take away from her the male right side and better place it in her young son who would need it in his future. To sum up, this section offered an interpretation of the story by referring to different phenomena, events, objects, etc., as symbols standing for other meanings. The answers that are aforementioned do not really have a universal appeal since the


system of beliefs changes in the course of time. But what does not change is the mere existence of human beings. Therefore, this interpretation is interesting but it would still not give any meaning to the story in which we in nowadays can make any interference with reality and also our life. One common interpretation refers to this story just for the magnificence and sacrifice of Rozafa for the country, rather than it makes any reference to the family, individuals, etc. For a better understanding of Rozafa and our selves, let’s see Jung and Freud’s interpretation.

3.2. The Depth Psychological Content of the Story

The depth psychological content of Rozafa is mainly focused on Carl Gustav Jung’s (July 26, 1875- June 6, 1961) theory, who founded the neopsychoanalytic school of psychology. Jung himself preferred the term of analytic psychology. But let’s first start with a quick interpretation based on Freud’s, Oedipus complex theory.

If we would interpret the story by referring to Freud’s theory, there is no father complex as is the Oedipus complex. Since there is no indication in the story about the existence and death of the father it is in vain to make any claims about the sexual drive of the brothers. We can suppose that if there have ever been a father complex, then it has already been resolved before the building of the castle. Still, just the absence of the father might elude the fact that the story was created as such on purpose to show that three brothers with their brides would live just with the mother and not with a father. Those who did create and inherit the story might have left out the father in order to give the message that the three brothers were weak in building a castle since they were ‘weak’ and in ‘love’ with their mother and even to sacrifice the bride for a castle, which might represent sexuality. Still, if these interpretation would be considered, then it would be only the young brother who loved the mother so much as to believe an old man, which could have been an oracle, as to ‘kill’ his wife for a better sexual life, the castle, or for a better and closer relationship with the mother.

Furthermore, the symbol of the father which would kind of evoke some similar feelings as Freud’s theory, is also interpreted as such:

“…a symbol of procreation, ownership, domination and courage, the father is an inhibiting and, in psychoanalytic terms, a castrating figure. …Such a

development embodies the suppression of the ‘other’ father and the acquisition of ‘self’ fatherhood. Such identification with the father involves a

two way movement of (his) death and (my) rebirth.”

But since the figure of the father is missing in the story we can state that the ‘identification with the father’ might have been already occurred and in the story the ‘rebirth’ of the brothers is already achieved.

Freud’s interpretation which always comes down to sexuality is really far fetched, since in Albania parents, even at the present, do still live with their children and grandchildren and it a sign of respect and carefulness which was given first to


the children by the parents and then the children when they grow up would also take the same carefulness toward their parents. The absence of the father in the story can be explained in relation to the historical events of the country. As Albania (Illyria) has continually been in wars to protect the borders, in most of the families the fathers have either been dead or fighting somewhere. Therefore, in Rozafa the father might have died in a war. His sons in order to protect themselves, brides, children and mother, needed to built the castle.

However, most importantly it is better to take a look at Jung’s interpretation of the mother complex. According to Jung, the psyche supplies images and forms that make the knowledge of objects possible. These forms, which are traditionally transmitted through generations, have the origin in archetypal ideas. Jung states about the origin of the psyche in relation to archetypal ideas:

“…primordial images which were never reflections of physical events but are spontaneous products of the psychic factor” (Jung, 1968, p.57)

Furthermore, Jung states that the psyche is the one that translates physical processes into images that are not easily recognized in relation with objective processes. This in Rozafa might explain the existence of the story, where what is to be understood from it is different from the previous section. According to Jung, since the subjective psyche, where are the contents of the consciousness, can be considered to be Rozafa, then we have to understand the objective psyche in the story, that is the unconsciousness which in the same time is the a priori condition of consciousness,

therefore the meaning of Rozafa. Moreover, the archetypes are the unconscious determining influences that derive from unconsciousness, as Jung states:

“…the archetypal form of the divine syzygy first covers up and assimilates the image of the real parents until, with increasing consciousness, the real figures of the parents are perceived- often to the child’s disappointment” (Jung, 1968, p. 67)

Jung describes a case in which the man had a mother and castration complex and he had some drawings of the mother who in the first ones she looked as a superhuman and then as a figure of woe. Jung explains:

“…from the son’s earlier childhood, the mother was assimilated to the archetypal idea of the syzygy, or conjuction of male and female, and for this reason appeared perfect and superhuman” (Jung, 1968, p. 67-68)

The disappointment of the child causes the castration complex. The anima, that gives the mother superhuman image in the son later on becomes imperfect by reality and falls deep into the unconscious. One of the archetypes, Jung calls the anima which is the feminine part of the soul, psyche, that is encountered as a projection, which is an unconscious process, in all divine syzygies that are male-female pairs of deities. Jung stresses that this imagination of man is related to the motif to project it over time in all places. Therefore we can believe that the same mother complex concept is to be


found in Rozafa. The most projected is the parental imago, which is never conscious and needs to become conscious. Since there is a lot of “resistance” by people it is difficult to make conscious to people and patients, and we will evaluate if the purpose of Rozafa is to make conscious to people this resistance to the complex.

Moreover, since man has been under the influence of dominating ideas, according to Jung, he has the representations collectives which is repressed with resistance, which hide behind ideas and figures, as is definitely the case in Rozafa. Jung states explains the complex and the anima as such:

“…a masculine element is always paired with a feminine one…The feminine part, the mother, corresponds to the anima” (Jung, 1968, p.65)

Jung explains that these images have been once conscious and then “repressed”. The parental imago comes into existence between the first and fourth year of childhood, which is kind of a dream, twilight state. Since the psyche of a newborn holds a priori preformed patterns which give the child and the dreamer the humanlike stamp, there are archetypes that direct all the fantasy (images). These Jung calls, inherited possibilities of ideas. He furthermore, defines the anima as such:

“The anima is a factor of the utmost importance in the psychology of a man wherever emotions and affects are at work. She intensifies, exaggerates, falsifies, and mythologizes all emotional relations with his work and with other people of both sexes. The resultant fantasies and entanglements are all her doing. When the  anima is strongly constellated, she softens the man’s character and makes him touchy, irritable, moody, jealous, vain and unadjusted. He is then in a state of “discontent” and spreads discontent all around him. Sometimes the man’s relationship to the woman who has caught his anima accounts for the existence of this syndrome.”

(Jung, 1968, p. 70- 71)

As Jung states, the mother complex is very common. In Rozafa the mother complex can explain the meaning of the story. At first sight, it seems that the three brothers had a mother complex, since all three of them “mythologized” the presence of an old wise man, who told them a secret, and also the impossibility of building up the castle. The younger brother, when he saw his bride Rozafa spread “discontent” by cursing the rocks and the castle, thus the anima had become ‘strongly constellated’.

His discontent in this case was not really spread but his bride Rozafa, recognized it, eve though she was not affected by his discontent. The two older brothers in the story do not say much, but their actions are of most importance to be defined. First, Jung makes a distinction between different ages in the relation to the mother complex:

“Younger people, who have not yet reached the middle of life (around the age of 35), can bear even the total loss of the anima without injury. The important thing at this stage is for a man to be a man. The growing youth must be able to free himself from the anima fascination of his mother” (Jung, 1968, p. 71)


Jung’s expression “a man to be a man” is a very important characteristic that can also be found in the other old Albanian stories. Since the oath, besa, is an important action, which is mainly taken by man, under the circumstances of war, we can state that keeping the oath was an important action that the younger brother had to do.

Thus we state that Rozafa, does not just tell the story of Rozafa’s sacrifice, but also the ‘liberation’ of the younger brother from the mother complex. Of course, we do not know if the younger brother was at the age of 35, but it is very likely that he was a bit younger than 35, since he had one child and was married and had a young bride. The younger brother, was uncastrated from the mother complex, by giving away half of his bride since the other half of Rozafa’s body would still accomplish some family tasks such as nourishing the son. But the younger brother identity had to be set. What about the two older brothers? Were they already freed from the mother complex? According to Jung, the consequences of the loss of the anima are:

“…diminution of vitality, of flexibility, and of human kindness. The result, as a rule, is a premature rigidity, crustiness, stereotypy, fanatical one-sidedness, obstinacy, pedantry, or else resignation, weariness, sloppiness, irresponsibility, and finally a childish ramollissement with a tendency to alcohol” (Jung, 1968, p.71)

Well, we do not know if the brothers drank any alcohol, even though it is known from old texts that the Illyrians ha d produced in ancient times honey wine and that their mother sent them wine with Rozafa. We can argue that the older brothers did not have any human kindness since he did not keep their oath, and consequently their brother’s bride was sacrificed. But we can also argue that they showed human kindness toward their own brides, and maybe their children if they had any. Jung explains how the mother complex is formed. He states that during childhood the role of the mother is very important since the child lives in a state of unconscious identity while the mother is the psychic apart from being the physical precondition of the child. When the ego-consciousness awakens then living in ‘participation’ with the mother weakens, and the conscious enters in opposition with the unconscious. Thus there is a differentiation of the ego from the mother.

In Rozafa the three brothers were trying to build a castle. The castle can mean ‘the self’ while the wall that they could not built might stand for defense, a strengthening of the self. As the oath can be interpreted as a commitment of the ego, it would then explain that the one who kept the oath, the younger brother, did get committed to his ego. That would mean that the other two brothers who did not keep their oath, had either committed to their ego, thus formed their identity earlier on then this story starts, or they had not yet done that, and maybe will do it in the future after the lesson from the younger brother is given.

Rozafa’s right side might represent her husband’s consciousness, which had come into ‘light’ after appearance of his unconsciousness. Since Rozafa was a strong bride, who immediately obeyed to the brothers “command”, it furthermore sustains the idea that her husband had a mother complex. Her left side represents her husband’s unconsciousness, which was left into darkness while the right side consciousness and the feminine aspect, the anima. At this point, Rozafa tells the story of three brothers, where for sure the younger brother had a mother complex but he


was uncastrated from it after it became conscious to him, by keeping the oath, committing to his ego. Rozafa’s right side, the anima of her husband is made conscious, but it also presents her archetype of the mother, which had as a primary aim the nourishment of her son, and the future of coming generations.

According to Jung, at later stages in life, the fabulous and mysterious qualities of the mother image are transferred to the grandmother. This interpretation would lead us to believe in another meaning in history of the figure of Rozafa. The Great Mother according to Jung, is:

“As the mother of the mother, she is “greater” than the latter; she is in truth the “grand” or “Great Mother”. Not infrequently she assumes the attributes of wisdom as well as those of a witch. For the further the archetype recedes from consciousness and the clearer the latter becomes, the more distinctly does the archetype assume mythological features.” (Jung, 1968, p. 102)

The archetype is elevated to a higher rank when the transition is done. When there is

an increased difference between conscious and unconscious, the grandmother is placed in a higher rank that of a “Great Mother”, and in general the opposites in this image split apart. The character of the Great Mother is then either as a good fairy or a wicked fairy, etc. This holds true in Albania even at the present. Rozafa is not actually viewed as an old grandmother who everyone loves, but she is mainly displayed as a very good and young bride. Still the attributes of wisdom are attached to her, since her sacrifice made possible for the coming generations to be protected in the castle. Most interestingly, Jung states:

“In Western antiquity and especially in Eastern cultures the opposites often remain united in the same figure… The legends about the gods are as full of contradictions as are their moral characters.” (Jung, 1968, p. 102)

It is also stated earlier on, that in Kuteli’s collection of old Albanian stories, man and women are sometimes being presented with their good and bad characteristics. The moral characters of the two older brothers in Rozafa, are of contradictions since even though the oath is a very valuable action (and still today people are puzzled by the two older brothers since they believe that that is not at all the right thing to do), still they did not keep it. The two older brothers might be considered as bad in the ‘eyes of the beholders’ but it can also be possible that their ‘deviation’ from the common belief was done on purpose just to give free way to their younger brother’s mother complex. Still, the possibility exists that the two older brothers did not commit to their ego, thus still were castrated in the mother complex.

Now, according to Jung the mother-image in a woman’s psychology is different from a man’s. He clearly states:

“For a woman, the mother typifies her own conscious life as conditioned by her sex.”

(Jung, 1968p. 105)


For the woman, the mother becomes a symbol in course of psychological development. In a woman the mother image is a chthonic type, or Earth Mother.

Since Jung advocates that a woman can identify directly with the Earth Mother, while a man cannot, then Rozafa by expressing her will acknowledges and identifies her self with the Earth Mother. It can be possible that the mother of the brothers, even though she did not know anything about the sacrifice, would be a chthonic type. It is believed that she was old so she could not go up in the hill, but if she could do that but sent the bride, Rozafa at the brothers then she would be “blamed”too as causing Rozafa to ‘fade away half of her body’. Still, a further explanation about Rozafa would be that she is identified in the future generations, as Jung specifies the Great Mother:

“As mythology shows, one of the peculiarities of the Great Mother is that she frequently appears paired with her male counterpart. Accordingly the man identifies with the son-lover on whom the grace of Sophia has descended, with a puer aeternus…” (Jung, 1968, p.106)

Rozafa was a mother of a child and the bride of the younger brother. Here once again, it is stressed that her husband had a mother complex, puer aeternus, and his commitment of the ego, which made possible the standing of the castle, ‘relieved’ him from this only by taking away from him his bride’s left side, his unconscious, and making clear Rozafa’s consciousness of the Mother Earth and his consciousness of the mother complex, her husband’s puer aeternus. Jung would then state that the unconscious has become conscious and the younger brother’s mother complex has disappeared. Furthermore, Jung analyzes the sacrifice of the bull as such:

“Indeed sacrifice primarily celebrates an internal triumph and the Jungian school was to interpret the famous scene of Mithras sacrificing the bull, as they did other sacrifices and especially certain Dionysiac rites, ‘as a symbol of the victory of man’s spiritual nature over his animality- of which the bull is a common symbol”

(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 820)

In Rozafa, that would once again mean that the female sacrifice would then be interpreted as the victory of man’s masculinity over his femininity.

4. Conclusion

The interpretation of Rozafa, such a short story, is definitely complex if it has to be interpreted in relation to the (religious/ spiritual) symbols in the story. It is possible to have different supernatural and interpretation of the symbols on their meaning in relation to religious beliefs, since we cannot completely be sure of the ancient people’s belief. But that should not discourage us to take some action and try to understand them.

Moreover, the interpretation based on Jung’s theory is more comprehensible, appealing and important. The role of the mother complex, anima, and that of the


Grand Mother seem to be very important, and have always been as such, in our society.

As Jung also states, the repression of the unconsciousness has a very terrible effect on the soul. Therefore, the understanding and human’s recognition of these archetypes, and the relationship between consciousness and unconsciousness, are not just depth psychology theories for understanding as in this paper Rozafa but also ourselves, ancestors and future generations.

“Eagle-woman” symbol of the motherland, Albania



– Chevalier, J., Gheerbrant, A., The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols, (Buchanan-Brown,

J., Trans.), 2nd edition, Penguin Books, 1996

– Jung, C.G., The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, (Hull, R.F.C., Trans.), 1968,

2nd edition, Princeton NJ, Princeton University Press (Series: The Collected Works of

C.G. Jung; Vol. 9, part 1 Bollingen series; 20)

– Kuteli, M., Tregime te Moçme Shqiptare, (Berberi, B., Trans), 2005, (Original work

published 1987)