Free «Setne Khamwas: The Son of Pharaoh» Essay Sample
According to the book The Norton Anthology of World Literature, Setne was the son of Pharahoh. He is the main character in the book and, therefore, the poet used him to bring out several themes. When he had borrowed a book and come back to his father, the latter reminded him that he needed to return the book. The choice of words in his father’s message is indicative of the theme of punishment. He told his son that if he failed to return the book, the one would kill him. The statement was a strong one to disclose the main message of the text. Different people are used to bring out this theme of punishment. One of such characters is Ahwere, a secondary character. She informed Setne that it was because of their great god that he had returned safely. However, as the reader continues reading, one realizes Ahwere is not in a tomb but in a far place. Setne’s punishment is to bring her back. Therefore, although Ahwere appears calm and considerate to Setne, she symbolizes his punishment.
For bringing out the theme of punishment, the writer has used some key words that appear to relate to each other, for example, the words “tomb” and “scribe”. When Setne went to the tomb, Ahwere who was located in another place was in that particular tomb through a scribe. Additionally, when he went to Coptos, he searched from one tomb to another for three days, and in each one, he found scribes. Additionally, the terms “resting place” and “tomb” can be almost confused in this text. The place where Setne took the book that he had borrowed is referred to as a tomb, but where he went to look for Ahwere is named a resting place. The words ‘priestly rank,’ ‘daughter of prophet’ and ‘the son of pharaoh’ were used in the text to show that Tabubu and Setne were highly ranked people. Some of the words that are used in the text are related, for example, Pharaoh referred to the act that would befall Setne as death when he said “they will kill you if you…” (Pucher 90). When Ahwere refereed to the same, she called it “safety.” Both words are related because they are used by different people to mean death, bringing out the theme of punishment. If Setne failed to return the book, he would die. Therefore, the word “death” is repeated, but brought out through the context of related words. Mentioning this word or relating terms represents the theme of punishment. Moreover, the author uses the expression “Noble Persons” to mean Ahwere and her son (Pucher 91). The two words are used repeatedly to indicate that they were noble. In the context of the theme of punishment, the expression “noble persons” is important. It represents the reason why Setne went all the way to Coptos. Because of the importance of Ahwere and her son, Setne had to demolish a house and construct it later after recovering them. Due to the importance of punishment, Setne led these two noble persons to Pharaoh’s sheep after he had recovered them and then went back to reconstruct the house he had damaged. It means that the punishment was given great weight, and that is why, it is compared to death. Additionally, the words “there was no clothes on him” show how Tabubu stripped Setne of his respect and dignity (Pucher 89).
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In this text, three different kinds of opposition occur. The first one happened when Pharaoh, the father of Setne, warned his son about the consequences of failing to return the borrowed book. Setne did not listen to that, and that was the reason he had lost touch with his family and was even thought to be affected by drunkenness. His father had warned him that he would be killed by the owners of that book. He said, “You have not listened to me until now” (Pucher 90). This opposition plays a big role in the theme of punishment, since because of this the punishment through Ahwere came about. The second opposition is when Naneferkaptah informed Setne that he would need to demolish the house of the chief of police for him to access what he was looking for. Setne replied by saying, “Perhaps there is something wrong that the Chief of Police did to you, on the account that you are trying to have his house torn down?” (Pucher 91). Setne opposed the information that Ahwere and her son were resting in the house of the chief of police. This opposition brings out the magnitude of the theme of punishment; it meant demolishing the house to obtain the two noble persons and then rebuild it. The third opposition was Tabubu to Setne. When the former sent his servant, she refused to heed the words saying she was not a servant.
In the text, two things are contrasted, namely, a tomb and the house of life. The author talks about the tomb with scribes. Then in another section, he represented the issue that the scribes in tombs found in Coptos were the ones of the house of life. The scribes had messages inscribed in them, and Setne read them through. A tomb and the house of life are contrasted with the presence of scribes in them.
Furthermore, some things appear to be out of place in the text; the reader does not expect that to happen. The two noble persons were resting in the house of the chief of police. One can ask himself or herself why that house and not anywhere else. When Setne went to Coptos, he was received by priests; he offered burnt offerings and was accompanied from one place to another by priests. It is not normal for any foreigner to be accorded such concern. Finally, it is not normal to cause death to a person because the one fails to return a book.
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