Melissa A. Jackson

in Comedy and Feminist Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199656776
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191742170 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Theological Monographs


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The violent conclusion to the book of Esther has regularly resulted in interpretations in a ‘funny’/‘un‐funny’ bisection of the book. However, reading the book of Esther as farce and as a literary carnival, a form called carnivalesque, offers readings that hold the book together. The comedy of farce, with its over‐the‐top violence, and of carnivalesque, in its reliance on the grotesque, are ideal lenses through which to read the violent, grotesque, hilarious story of Esther. Esther is a story of survival, and the comedy of Esther aids that survival. As Esther does her saving work within the ‘system’, a system that ultimately replaces her with Mordecai, and, furthermore, as Esther herself replaces the system‐resistant Vashti, feminist critique has often preferred the latter over the former. Esther does much for her own people; feminist critique wishes she could have done more for her own gender as well.

Keywords: carnival; carnivalesque; comedy; Esther; farce; Mordecai; Vashti; violence

Chapter.  8733 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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