As I sort of promised almost a decade ago, I finally got to write this essay on Tarzan the Terrible that I had always planned to do, but never found time for it. The social slump due to this health crisis has its advantagesÖ This is going to be my most complex essay so far.
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Tarzan in Pal-ul-Don:
a symbolist analysis
By Cristian Sildan
Part II is continued in ERBzine 7478
Iíve already done an analysis of Pal-ul-Don as a world and Iím pretty content of it, but itís by no means all that can be said about this story. As I said in other essays, and as other fans have felt, this novel has a wealth of symbolism that deserves a separate essay just for it.
I had semi-realized ERB is a symbolist while reading him but that didnít excite too much my radar, until I read Tarzan and the City of Gold. It was a story so obviously symbolist that I just had to analyze it archetypally, and since then it opened my desire to do so with other stories.
I wonít repeat what Iíve already said when I did my analysis of Tarzan and the City of Gold. Iíll do just a bit of reminding: there are big authors who know how to write a brilliant story, or to analyze very profoundly the characters, their motivations, their thoughts, etc. And to form really refined phrases with poetic expressions. Proust is a good example as I already said in that older essay. I keep bringing him up because he seems to be the best example for cultivated Americans of what it means to be a great master of words and psychological analysis. Such as him or say, Tolstoy, are great authors. But then there are the REAL authors, the ones who are not necessarily masters of the word and of the profundity of character, but know how to conjure Archetypes. Of course, the ideal would be to be able to do both, like Coleridge for example Ė another favorite example of mine. But anyway, itís rare to be able to conjure archetypes. Well, ERB is one of these rare authors, and Iíve already proved it with TCG. But itís not enough, the world of the archetypes is unlimited so I want to go on doing this, and Iíll do it with the adventures of Tarzan and Jane in Pal-ul-Don.
First of all, what Burroughs does is creating a modern myth. A myth for this age, and he succeeds. This is why Tarzan is such a strong character in the collective imaginary to this day. Itís a contemporary myth but which, thanks to the "ape-man" aspect of it, keeps us in touch with the past and the primeval, the savagery. Genius!
Yes but there canít be any pure myth nowadays. Very few people would believe this sort of tales today like a religion or even like a legend. We live strange times, when compared to all the other eras of the world. Never have there been such myth-rejecting generations as in the 20th and the 21st centuries. Nietzsche tried to do "pure myth" in his Zarathustra, and he partially succeeded, but only for the type of people that are his readers. Tolkien did it and he succeeded. But about him too, I dare say none of his characters is as famous as Tarzan. Tarzan is much more popular than Zarathustra, or than Aragorn. The Ethos of our age is the reason, though, why ERBís mythology canít be of the sort we find in the sacred books, but like a myth in its decayed form.
And this is the reason why ERBís stories are generally in a form of updated fairytales. Iíve shown it to you when I analyzed Tarzan and the City of Gold. Iíll show you the proof here as well. Because this is what a fairy tale is: a decayed myth. The fairytales we read to kids are generally old myths, that have turned into little stories for kids. Well, ERB is writing directly the "decayed myth" version of the story for us, since itís the only way the archetypes can be passed on in an age like ours. This is what real authors do.
And the fairytales, although quite similar across the world as far as archetypes go -- for archetypes are universal and eternal -- still have their differences. And one of the most important differences today is that in some regions their structure is deeper and more complex, because they pack and treat more archetypes in their storyline, or they show them in a more poetic form. This is why, when I treat the story and compare it to the older fairytales, I will refer mostly to eastern European fairytales, because they are among the most archaic and the most complete -- says the Master Symbolist Rene Guenon himself.
And what type of fairytale would Tarzan the Terrible be? Well, since itís about Tarzan going to a fantasy country to find and save Jane, it would be the "white knight rescues damsel in distress" type.
Therefore, letís resume it before doing the work of analyzing.
So the typical "white knight rescues damsel in distress" goes like this:
A beautiful girl, usually a princess, is kidnapped by a Big Bad Guy who can be a dragon, an ogre, a troll, a giant, a wizard, an evil king and such. Since the bad guy is quite diverse in nature, weíll call him BG for short. Sometimes it is three BGs who kidnap three princesses, or other variations like this. Sometimes the bad guys also have a mother who rules over them, usually a big ogress or sorceress or so.
He/they take her to their domain which is usually an enchanted realm far-far-away. The story itself doesnít generally take place in the usual world, but in some parallel one and in a fantastic time period, "in a land over nine countries and nine seas, back in the time when bears were fighting each-other with their tails and the fleas were wearing horseshoes of 99 pounds" as we say in most of the Romanian introductions to fairytales. That being said, BGís place is even more magical, like an enchanted forest, a fairyland, an enchanted island or cave, etc.
A hero, usually a prince, goes to rescue the girl(s). Sometimes they are three brothers or three friends or so, one for each girl. But the most common is the lonely hero who rescues the lonely girl, or who can help several of them but focuses on one.
On his road, the hero usually makes friends or allies with various magical beings or objects that can help him in his quest. They are usually three.
He usually has to pass various ordeals, usually three of them or a multiple of three, to win the way to defeat Evil Ė whether he fights BG three times, or the three BG bros, or he has three things to do to obtain the magic necessary to defeat them, well, letís not tarry too much, you probably remember the stories too.
Meanwhile, the Heroine is usually not defiled by the BG, but not always. Also, usually she bears no relation to the Hero before being rescued, but that also can be different: sometimes they are fiancés or even married. Sometimes they are bro and sis and he also finds another girl, besides her, to save and wed by the same move. Usually sheís pretty passive but not always: sometimes she seduces BG and makes him tell her what his weakness is. In the story of the troll with no heart, we are clearly told they are in bed when she questions himÖ In a Romanian story, the stolen wife dances seductively and makes BG tell her his secret. But in other stories, we are told the Heroine has no body, being a figment that haunts the imagination of the heroes good and bad. I wonít delve on that since itísÖ immaterial to our discussion here, he-he.
Where did the trope of the damsel in distress and the saving hero come from? Well we have several old legends and myths that, if they are not the origin, they surely must play a lot in the creation of the concept: the story of Perseus and Andromeda of course, we all know it. But thereís also the Biblical story of Tobit, or the para-biblical one of St.George. In Asia we have the tale of Orochi. Weíll see that the story of Tobit might be very important in the genesis of this trope.
Since the two main characters are most of the time a prince and a princess weíll call them just so: the Prince and the Princess or the Hero and the Heroine. Also, being archetypes, the princely status suits them well, for what are princes and princesses if not future kings and queens? Archetypes signify eternal truths, and since they mostly deal with initiation, what is initiation if not an evolution? And what better image of evolution, than a prince who becomes a king?
The helpers that the Prince gets, magical beings and objects, weíll call them the Allies. If the Prince has brothers/companions, weíll call them that, Companions.
Now, first of all, what are all these fairytale characters?
The Prince is the Ego/the Volition. The Princess is the Soul. This is why sheís generally a virgin, to symbolize her untouchability by the Matter. The BG is the sinful temptations and the fairyland is the world of illusions. The magical helpers/acolytes Ė the magic horse, weapon, friends etc. Ė are the divine inspiration. The enchanted horse especially, not very frequent in the tales of the West but very present in Eastern Europe, and very present in the old myths, see Pegasus, Sleipnir, or the Hindu Ashvins, clearly send the reader to the concept of divine inspiration that takes one to heaven. Then there are the minor characters, these are the instincts and impulses, good or bad.
Therefore, itís all about the ego that saves his soul from the illusions and the sins, with the help of divine inspiration. Itís therefore very improper to do big changes in this structure and come up with things like a warrior princess who saves the hero and such. Why deconstruct and invert the Archetypes? Itís not only confusing and wrong, but from the point of view of the eternal truths, itís satanic.
Why wouldnít it be ok if the Ego/Volition is male and the Soul is female?
Donít get me wrong, Iím not saying there shouldnít be female heroes. There are stories with female princesses who fight and win. Heck, we even have a story where a warrior princess becomes a man through magic, and weds another princess. BUT, it HAS to respect the archetypal frame, not to ignore/distort/invert/mock it, like it happens in most postmodern creations.
Another thing some people probably ask themselves is, why does the Prince always win, in the old tales? Today, we have all sorts of stories where itís the BG who wins and proves to be good and the prince proves to be bad, see "Shrek" for exampleÖ Iím not saying itís not a good cartoon but it plays with inversion. Some will say I donít know how to appreciate irony or originality. Well, irony and even some form of inversion can exist in the archetypal frame, Iíll explain later, but that too, it has to obey the rules. Which is not the case with most of the creations that weíve seen lately. You see, you can have "good demons", evil kids, changed genders and other such things in the myths, but when it happens it is not inversion, but a "change of polarity". Same with Irony, one thing is to be a "trickster", another to be a mocker/destroyer. In the old creations itís well handled and itís totally different from the mess that we generally see today.
Well, since all these irregularities above are generally not the case with ERBís Opus, and since this theme would constitute a very long discussion by itself, I wonít insist on that, but I just had to make these precisions. Now, back to our work.
You see, the Prince incarnates not only the Volition but also Destiny, whose objective is to stop the soul from being assimilated into a demonic sacrality. This is why heís usually so lucky and also why the heroes of ERB are so damn lucky. This is why the Hero always knows how to attract to him everyone and everything that can help him in his quest. You see, the more BG appears strong and ancient and imposing, and the more he belongs to some fantasy race, the more he incarnates and conveys the "ancient god/demonic" meaning.
What is the Woman/the Soul, other than the source of Alterity? Sheís the one who brings forth, by definition. So the Old God/the demon/the Vice wants to consume her, to close her in a self-destructive bubble.
The return home of the heroes is the return to the normal state of the reconciled being, where the Ego and the Soul are in harmony and purified from evil.
This is why the story of Tobit might be very important for the trope: we have there a literal demon who keeps a girl prisoner of his obsession and a literal angel who helps a good guy to save and wed her. Also, the word for the quintessential BG in Eastern Europe is "zmeul". And we know from the old manuscripts that the first time the word appears is in the 6th century, under the form Ďísmaulíí. Which is Samael, the rabbinical demon. Of course, the demon in Tobit is not Samael but Asmodeus, and the reason why one demon got more preferred in later myths than the other is a story in itself, but this matter is not important here. What is important is, the trope very likely owes much to Tobit and to other biblical and para-biblical texts, which weíll see is very important for much of the symbolistic luggage of the said trope.
Now, to enter the context of our story, letís start our analysis with Pal-ul-Don itself. It can be "scanned" from several positions.
So, Pal-ul-Don is, just like Athne and Cathne in my other essay, the magic place that is really in the Heroís interior world, where the said heroís soul passes through temptations, searching for itself, gaining harmony and subduing its wild parts symbolized by the magical creatures of this inner land. The secret garden where the Ego broods on itself like the Xanadu of Kubla Khan so well described by Coleridge.
But itís also the "triple enclosure" dear to the initiatic literature, since there are three stages of initiation. For initiates, the soul is the "interior holy country", and in this type of literature it is often described like a strange city, a labyrinth or a garden. Rings any bells? We find all three in our novel! And the approach of Tarzan towards his goal must overcome three obstacles, the thorns, the marsh and the mountains. He has many obstacles, true, but these three surround concentrically the place where Jane is found. The thorny steppe signifies the thirst and the dryness of the one who lost his soul. The marsh is the place of uncleanness, chaos and disorder that the one without soul goes through. The mountains are the duty and the effort to elevate oneself that is the lot of the one who searches for his soul. Yes, itís difficult to get into oneís self deeply and meaningfully! The access therein is not easy, especially if we want to do renovation works!
Pal-ul-Don is also the "Round Table". I explain myself: the Round Table is also a very archetypal concept, itís not for nothing that it still fascinates. Now, we donít know how many knights were seated at it, there are several versions, but 12+1 is the most common symbol for it, and since itís an archetype itís all that counts (counts and knights, ha-ha, sorry, I just had to say thisÖ). Itís not just a table where legendary warriors gather. Itís a symbol of the Zodiac and of Destiny. Itís twelve constellations, twelve months, twelve hours of day and twelve of night, twelve apostles, etc. Plus one. Full circle plus one, perfection. The twelve plus the Grail.
What do we know of Pal-ul-Don? It has 12 tribes of Blacks. And one of mixed people. 12+1. Rigorously exact from a symbolic point of view. Now, the Blacks are on the rim of the third circle of the Sacred Land. And what is the rim of mountains defining? The Valley of God! The Sacred Land. And what is in its center? A-Lur. The city of Light. Again, rigorously exact in the symbolic language. God is Light. But Evil also can seem as light. Itís also Attraction. Allure. That Allure has a sexual connotation must not deter us to go on with the analysis. Divine Love is also named Eros Kosmogonos, Logos Spermatikos etc. Which is not necessary a manifesto for Divine Sex, thatís New Age tripe, but the symbolists do play with the notions. We wonít go into the erotic dimension of mysticism. But I had to make this precision for the sake of the explanation of the notions, since they are here. The idea is, many go towards evil while searching for the good. This is why, when you realize your confusion, you must convert the false light into true light. If the initial intention is good, itís not that difficult.
Now, the interior of the Valley is inhabited by tribes of Whites. How many are they? We only know of three of their cities but they are clearly more. Itís not specified but they are more. And as I said in an older essay, they MUST be seven. If the Blacks are 12, the Whites must be 7. You know why? Well, the 12 constellations of the Zodiac turn around the Pole. Which is the Pole Star, which is among the 7 main stars of the Ursa Minor. Itís also the 7 days of the week, the 7 days of Creation, the 7 Metals of AlchemyÖ The planets and crystal spheres of the old Zodiac are also 7Ö so are the Chakras in the body.
To arrive among the Whites you must pass through the Blacks, which is again true symbolically: from the Black which is the color of the Beginning, of the Matrix, of the "Undefined full of Potential", and also the color of the non-manifestation, the Dark Night of the Soul, just before Revelation, whereas White is the color of Light, of Revelation, of Radiation. Since all the creatures of Pal-ul-Don are part of the Inner world of the soul, we must remember the Whites and Blacks are also the solar and the lunar elements in everyoneís soul.
To be more precise, the Blacks are the basic instincts and the impulses Ė good and bad. The whites are the Concepts, good and bad. Altogether they are the Elementals, the parts that compose the Ego. The Waz-ho are the ones that make us remember that instincts and concepts are many times tangled and difficult to separate. This is why we must count them among both Whites and Blacks.
But since weíve commented the Ho and the Waz, and even the Waz-Ho, what about the Tor-o-dons? They have their own place in the symbolic world: they are the cannibalistic larva who wants to devour/violate the natural feminine energy, embodied so well by Pan-at-lee. But like all manifestations of the negative that are true to symbolism, they also can teach the Hero something, and so they teach Tarzan to use the Gryf. The Hero steals from the BG in many stories, whether itís knowledge, magic items etc. Here. The Evil teaches the Good to ride the dragon! Heavy stuff!
But what about the road taken by Tarzan in the story? Now, in many traditions, the Cycle starts from the North and goes to the East then the South then the West and then returns to the North. We see in the story that the trajectory of Tarzan in the Valley is quite similar to this pattern of the Sacred Path. Not completely, for ERB seems to me heís not always willing to work with his inspiration completely, but quite. Tarzan comes from the North, as does Wisdom in Symbolistic Geography, or the new Revelation he brings to the Don. Then he goes East to Pastar-ul-Ved and ascends on the highest peak of this spiritual country. Then goes a bit West to A-Lur (still remaining in the Eastern side of the Valley), but then South to Bu-Lur, then, to the West where he finds Jane, then to the East, then to the North to Ja-Lur, then South-East again back to A-Lur, then North finally and out. Itís a bit tortuous but on the whole it fits the Circle pattern. Now, symbolically he should have found some Priests in the North, but here itís a bit changed but not inexact: he finds warriors, but who convert to the new faith he brings. In a way they are beginners of a new creed in the Valley. Whereas the priests of the Old Way fight for earthly power. Itís an inversion but itís not subversive, itís one of the changes of polarity I mentioned above. The Old Center is compromised, a new one is required, or one which purifies the old.
Now, A-Lur is the center of it all, and itís where Jane is imprisoned. We must not forget that at the archetypal level all is a symbol for the adventure of the soul, so what seems bad could be good. A-Lur might be a place of dread for Jane as a person, but for the Soul that she really is, itís the Athanor, the alchemic vessel in which the Magnum Opus matures. The heart where the true light is. And indeed, itís the City of Light.
I spoke above a bit about solar and lunar aspects. Well, I already said in the City of Gold essay that Tarzan is John and Jane is Jane, so in the spiritual sense they are Janus-Jana, together they are the Egg, the Unity, the seed of plenitude.
Now, what about the religion of Pal-ul-don? Well, I will surprise the readers by affirming the place is dominated by a MATRIARCHAL cult. I know, it sounds wrong at the first glance, for the god Jad-ben-Otho is a male, his spirit is the Sun and the high priest is a male too. Yet, the temples are CARVED in hillocks, they are OVAL in shape and half of the sacrifices consist in DROWNING newborns, which is plunging and dissolving the new life back in the Matrix from where it came. Also, the sacrifice of an adult in the evening also has to do with the concept of growth. Also, all the priests with the exception of their boss are EUNUCHS. All this is very feminine, as symbols go. Methinks that even if the surface of the cult is male, in fact itís a cult of the Mother-Nature, but a tyrant mother that eats her children. And Jad-ben-Otho seems pretty impotent to me symbolically, for the Sun is his spirit that seems to be separated from him and in need of the help of the sacrifices to follow his road. Also, at one moment the high priest says that the Sun is born by the earth, so the spirit of Otho comes from the earth! Which fact totally subsumes him to the Earth-Mother. The Sun here is just the expression of the Absolute, not the Absolute itself. Methinks Jad-ben-Otho is just a kid devoured by his mother. Who is a mad Nature Goddess who needs to devour all life and especially masculine energy. This is why the priests are eunuchs. The cult is solar only on the surface. In depth, it is a chthonian/earth cult, that worships the mad forces of nature that terrify the people. These forces are probably best incarnated by the Gryf, and this is why the priests wear masks evoking it, and why Tarzan makes such a good impression by riding one. Anyway, itís a cycle of death that closes Pal-ul-Don in a loop of blood.
So, in many tales, especially in Eastern Europe but also in other places, the BG steals the Princess to wed her, but in fact the deeper scope is to replenish the force of chaos that he incarnates, meaning mad Mother Nature. As I said, fairytales are old myths retold for more recent tastes and religions. The BG can very well be the old priest that was sacrificing the virgins or the kids to the old gods. In this story, the BG can be very well identified to the shape shifting dragon who can become a negative prince charming (which happens in many fairy tales): Lu-don is chief of the priestsÖ who incarnate the Gryf! That he wants to assimilate Jane is pretty obvious: he imprisons her in a Gryf of stone! He puts her in the very emblem of his cult before really making her his completely. He wants the Goddess in her, which means he needs her presence, her energy and charisma, to revitalize his cult! He probably sensed the crisis before it effectively appeared.
Letís remember also the story of Theseus: he accompanies Ariadne in the labyrinth to kill the Minotaur! Here, the temple has not only a gryf and plenty of people wearing its likeness, but it also has a maze of tunnels. Pal-ul-Don has its own labyrinth and monster. Tarzan goes in and kills monster-priests.
OK, with that weíve sketched the basic frame for the story, but we will add to it in time. Now letís pass to the characters.
First of all we must talk about Jane because it all revolves around her. So as I said, she goes through a Cycle. As it is normal for a woman. Her adventure lasts several months, and I wouldnít be surprised if, from the beginning of the story when she decides to attempt the escape with Obergatz to the return home of the reunited family, the whole adventure lasts 9 months in all. It would be most fit symbolically as the gestation of a new reality, a new state of mind. Letís see: first they wander a bit randomly in the jungle, which is an image for the lost soul in the world of doubt and indecision; they arrive in Pal-ul-Don at the end of the dry season, which in Zambia where Pal-ul-Don is found is the second half of August. Meaning she wanders the wilderness under the sign of Cancer, which is the low ebb of the soul, and enters her place of capture under the sign of Leo which is exactly one of the Predator, also called "the month of the evil sun". Her ordeal could not begin under a more telling emblem. But it can also be a good thing on the long run, Leo also means redemption. Itís the beginning of her purification. She also kills a lion, she fights with her destiny.
She is captured by the Don at the beginning of September meaning in Virgo, now Jane is not a virgin but her alter egos O-lo-a and Pan-at-lee are (weíll talk about them too). We can surmise the beginning of the troubles for the girls start about then: the forced betrothal of one and the harassment by the bad Gund for the other. Yes, Ta-den said he fled A-lur 7 months before, but he must have fled before Janeís arrival, for he hasnít heard anything about her, not even rumors.
The remainder of the time passes in Libra when the things are in fragile equilibrium for all of them, but which can tip at any moment. The king and the priest dispute her.
Then most of the action we see in the story takes place in Scorpio, when all is movement, spectacular reversal, change and omnipresent danger, with finally things seeming to head towards total catastrophe for our favorite couple.
Korak logically saves them in Sagittarius of course, what better period for his fulgurant intervention, more precisely the 21 December, the day of the Solstice when the day grows again and is the dawn of a new cycle.
They quit Pal-ul-Don the 1st of January, when Janus-Jana/John-Jane is exactly where his place is, at the moment between past and future, when the new cycle officially starts. That means they leave Pal-ul-don in Capricorn, which is the high point of the soul.
What exactly happens between her and the BG Ė meaning Lu-don "the Priest" as well as with his alter-egos: Obergatz "the God" and the two successive kings who are in fact just one, "the King"? Well, itís not for nothing that she is called "American girl" (although sheís no longer a girl, sheís a mother and like 38 or soÖ) and "Diana". Nothing is random. Archetypally she IS "The Girl" sought by the bad predator. She is the "American girl" meaning the "New" sought by the "Old" to be used by him as a force of rejuvenation. She is Diana meaning the Virgin Goddess of the Hunt, meaning the pure and untamed sexual energy that fascinates the BG. In some fairytales she is a wife btw, sheís not always a maiden. Her wildness predisposes her to fascinate and to be kidnapped. Although pure, she must go through temptation and trial for her savagery to be cleansed of any bad tendency and so to be recovered by the "Prince" who kills the BG. In this story the female main character doesnít embody the wayward girl, she is a "gentle rebel". Sheís rebel when compared to the usual routine of most people, not in the sense of being against good things. After all sheís Tarzanís wife, who is no classical Prince either. In fact by his own savagery and sometimes animalic amorality, he resembles the BG in some aspectsÖ The structure of the main couple in this modern myth is very original, this is why it still fascinates. It embodies a very strong and ancient archetype, the Primeval Couple, but pure and triumphant, who really play and win with Nature and who bring novelty and a good type of change wherever they go. A bit like "progressive savages" they are. Whereas the Pal-ul-Donians are called "pithecanthropi", although they are not, they are very modern humans only mutated, but they are so called because they embody the old humans -- prisoners of the cycle of the devouring sacred mother nature.
Well, in many Eastern European fairy tales, the BG makes his captive cook for him, often enormous, impossible quantities of food, and consumes everything. Sometimes they turn some of her friends/ relatives into stone. That symbolizes him eating the energy of her soul, or freezing her soul. In our story, the captors donít make Jane cook but they clothe her in their apparel and put her in the belly of the stone Gryf which means exactly the same thing.
Also in many stories, the BG has a big club which the Prince captures and uses against him. Hmm, even the less Freudian of you can see the meaning of that, I betÖ and Tarzan uses a lot of their dominant/ phallic things in the story to thwart the BG and his/their minions: clubs, tails, horned masksÖ
Speaking of big clubs and sexual fascinations, why doesnít the BG rape the Princess, in most stories Ė and in no ERB story? Well because the BG and the princess are both Archetypes, and therefore their joining could only be under sacred auspices, meaning according to sacred rituals, at a symbolically significant date etc. Especially here, itís not for nothing that Jane is considered a goddess. A goddess cannot be handled in just any way. In order for her assimilation to be efficient, she must be absorbed by the abyss to become negative yes, but according to very proper rituals! As I said, the BG has its roots in older, fallen gods, and still has this sacred routine in his structure, even without always realizing itÖ sheís objectified yes, but sheís a sacred object.
As I said before, the cyclicity in itself is not bad, itís even very feminine. But when a negative force captures it to turn the natural cycle into a loop of death, itís very different. Well, here is the real importance of Tarzan in this story: heís not only the Savior but heís the Bringer of the New Equilibrium. The Dragon Rider. The one who flew to the sky upon the dragon and saw the true Essences up-there. Which he literally is, for does he not ride the Gryf? OK, he doesnít fly, but the symbol is perfectly sound. Heís the one who, by his actions, brings the end of the old cycle and starts a new, more wholesome one. We can wonder if by the changes he makes in the cult, he doesnít turn the worship of the mad mother nature into the one of the Nurturing Nature.
OK, back to Jane. As I said, Pan-at-lee and O-lo-a are in fact her alter-egos. Each symbolizes the same female sexual energy under a different aspect. O-lo-a is white and "like a star" which is white as well, and white is the color of purity and of Manifestation. Pan-at-lee is black and has an animalic name, which are symbols of the non-manifestation, the potential, and the raw wildness. She is the lunar/ beastly side of Jane (in a good way). Jane is blonde and yellow is the color of the Sun which is also a symbol for the light of Wisdom. We see her tutoring the girls although they donít meet a lot. They interact in the garden of O-lo-a, and the garden is the secret abode of the Ego, of course, like the one of Kubla Khan as I said above. Each of the three girls has her own BG that wants to consume her. We can compare this with the Gnostic image of the chase of Sophiaís reflections by the Archons. At one moment Jane escapes one of the chasers by plunging in the lake, which is an image of the regression in the subconscious, or the original waters of the Uterus.
By the way, thereís another meaning for the imprisonment of the girls in the garden, (as is the case of Janeís presence in the Gryf or Pan-at-leeís in the abandoned cave) which is the sick fascination the BG has for his captive and his will to coerce her, whether this is suggested by the vegetative image or by the stone/animal one, both meaning the stifling of her soul by a type of hostile agency that neuters it.
The Woman is the Nature, that entices to passion by her very being; whoís not really active, sheís more like won through fight; but mobilizes both the Negative and the Positive Principles to fight to the death for her. In the meantime, even if the doesnít MAKE history/action, but she DOES influence the final outcome by choosing the good side and rejecting the bad one. Thatís even though the Principles dominate her, they donít have influence over her will, under any of her three incarnations.
Sheís also the disorganized Soul not yet fully grown (fragmented in her alter-egos), tempted by passions. The Prince/Volition who saves her will inhabit her and give her sense. The BG is the Chaos who is interested in the Sacred (Goddess) part of her but just wants to dissolve her into his routine.
So, we have Wisdom (solar light/blonde woman) and purity (star light) and raw sexuality (furry woman) prisoners of various BGs in A-lur, which is both light and temptation itself, as its name shows. A false light here, the light of sin. The BG is master of this allure/A-lur and has 3 faces which mirror the 3 Archons that want to devour Sophia and her emanations through Sin, in order to use her/them to revitalize their aging paradigm, symbolized by the rampant human sacrifice which is the self-destructiveness of false passions. Her imprisonment in the stone dragon is also very on point: the Woman is water/life. The Dragon is water/abyss. The BG wants to turn life into abyss. The Dragon is both the guardian and the receptacle of Sacrality and life energy: indeed, Jane is in him. Whereas Tarzan rides the dragon, meaning the Ego tames the call of the abyss as a prerequisite to save his Soul, and turns it into a way of elevating himself. Heavy stuff, and perfectly encoded in the scenario of our story, in the Symbolic language.
Now, one might be a bit lost since O-lo-a is the daughter of the King and therefore of one of the incarnations of the BG. Well, thatís nothing exceptional for the fairytales: in some of them, the daughter of the BG is nothing like her monster parent (meaning she is a fox, and not in the traditional Asian sense!;)) and she even helps the Hero defeat the BG and marries him!
And a bit more on the dragon too, since heís linked to the Woman. He has several incarnations too: we see him as a guardian/receptacle of her energy where she is about to dissolve (we see her losing all hope and about to be raped in it), but heís also a helper (when she rides him) and an incarnation of the Limit Ė as the monsters of the Marsh around the magical/spiritual dimension that really is Pal-ul-don. If anything, heís one of the proofs that we are talking about a magical/spiritual dimension here.
A bit about the symbolical relationship between the Hero and the Heroine: usually in fairytales, the Hero has a Solar symbolism whereas the Heroine has a Lunar one. Now, without entering into too much details, both Tarzan and Jane are pretty Solar, as symbols go. But in this particular story, which is probably the most symbolist of all the Tarzan cycle, the two alter egos of Jane (sheís Sophia and they are her shadows) both have nocturnal symbolism, O-lo-a by her "starry" name and Pan-at-lee by her blackness, by her being introduced to us at night, by being a cave-dweller etc.
OK, now that weíve set the main lines of the story, letís analyze it.
On to PART II in ERBzine 7478
CRISTIAN SILDAN ARTICLES IN ERBzine
MEET CRISTIAN SILDAN
Tarzan in Pal-ul-Don: A symbolist analysis I
Tarzan in Pal-ul-Don: A symbolist analysis II
Interpretation of ERB: Bold Barsoom Questions I
Interpretation of ERB: Bold Barsoom Questions II
Interpretation of ERB: Bold Barsoom Questions III
Interesting Survivability Rates
Tarzan and Nemone of the City of Gold
Barsoom Analysis Part I: Demography, Polity, Society and Economy
Barsoomian Analysis II: Sociology and Morality
Barsoomian Analysis III: Girl, Reconstructed
More Barsoomologist and Amtorianist Musings
The Religion of Manator: Cristian Sildan and Den Valdron
OTHER PAL-UL-DON REFERENCES IN ERBzine
ERB C.H.A.S.E.R: Tarzan the Terrible
Monkey Men of Pal-ul-Don by Den Valdron
Tarzan the Terrible Compendium
Jane in Pal-ul-Don: Russ Manning Series
Tarzan Returns fo Pal-ul-Don: Russ Manning Series
Tarzan's Pal-ul-Don Adventure Continues: Russ Manning Series
Maltheusian Decimation in Pal-ul-Don by Rick Johnson
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