Discuss a theme or issue that is explored in Requiem by Anna Akhmatova and City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende. Some examples include: death, spirituality, challenges, suffering, religion and persecution (or any combination of these). Both Anna Akhmatova and Isabelle Allende create texts that draw their readers in through the use of interesting themes and relatable messages. The two texts City of the Beasts (2002) by Isabelle Allende and “Requiem” (1940-1957) by Anna Akhamatova explore the issue of religion through the use of several writing techniques, such as imagery, sound devices and symbolism. Strong imagery used by Allende and Akhmatova forces the reader to notice the messages they have created. In the text City of the Beasts by Allende uses imagery to catch attention of the readers, the strong gustatory imagery used in the line “They did not dare refuse, although the taste of the potion was nauseating,” (p.224) helps give depth to the line by relating to the reader’s senses; this enables the author to capture the attention of their audience.
The words ‘They did not dare refuse,” suggest that they children were scared of what would happen if they refused the drink but also that they were respectful of the customs and religion of the People of the Mist. In this line Allende displays her feeling towards religion, she believes that religion is created based on your surrounding and place in the world. The second text ‘Requiem’ by Akhmatova demonstrates visual imagery through the line ‘His dear disciple, stone-faced, stared,’ (p.113). The alliteration stoned-faced stared and dear disciple helps draw reader’s attention to the image of a hard face. This contributes to the overall mood of the poem which is sombre and bleak. The disciple in the poem can be interpreted as being Akhmatova. By comparing herself to a religious figure Akhmatova suggests there is a fine line between religion and reality and indicates her belief that the two are closely related.
Through the use of these two types of imagery the authors are able to convey their personal opinions about the issue of religion. Sound devices allow an author to capture a reader’s attention. In the first text City of the Beasts by Allende, sound devices are conveyed through the line “The sound that burst from his throat was the same he had roared before,” (p.234). The onomatopoeia burst grabs the reader’s attention and indicates a breakdown of strength. The onomatopoeia roared also gains attention by allowing them to imagine the sound of a jaguar roaring. Allende seems to agree with the opinion of Akhmatova in the line “He remembered his totemic animal, he did not have to do anything, the transformation happened quickly and easily” (p.234) by again showing that she believes there is only a fine line between the spiritual and living world. In the second text ‘Requiem’ by Akhmatova, sound devices are conveyed through the line “Mary Magdalene beat her breast and sobbed.” (p.113) the alliteration of ‘b’ in this line draws attention to the words beat and breast.
This allows the author to emphasise her vivid image of Mary Magdalene beating her breast, therefore grabbing their attention and forcing readers to notice how Akhmatova uses Mary Magdalene to represent herself and portray the way she feels about the fine line between religion and reality. Both the authors have used symbolism; this allows them to give meaning to their writing beyond what they are describing. In the first text City of the Beasts by Allende, symbolism is conveyed through the talisman worn by Nadia “to sacrifice it meant giving up the prodigious powers of protection she attributed to the carved bone, the shamans gift,” (p.298). The alliteration of ‘p’ in this line draws attention to the importance of the talisman to the Nadia and shows that to Nadia the talisman meant the difference between being protected and unprotected by religion and that being protected was priceless to her.
This line also conveys the importance of religion to the People of the Mist and the spiritual belief that one must be protected from danger in order to live a happy life. In the second text “Requiem”, Akhmatova uses the religious character Mary Magdalene to symbolise herself. This is shown in the line “Do not weep for me mother, when I am in my grave,” (p.113) Akhmatova uses the words of Jesus to give meaning to the feelings of her son Lev trapped in a prison in Leningrad. In this line Lev, symbolised by Jesus is talking to his mother, Akhmatova who is symbolised by Mary Magdalene. This gives the reader the ability to quickly relate to how Akhmatova is feeling by drawing emotion from a feeling they already know.
The use of symbolism in these two text aids the reader in understanding the feeling of the authors towards religion. Through the use of imagery Akhmatova is able to convey that she believes there is only a fine line between religion and reality to the reader. Allende is able to convey her opinion that religion is based on your place in the world. Sound devices used by these two authors further prove Akhmatova’s belief of a close relationship between the physical and spiritual world and finally symbolism is used in the text to allow the reader to gain other meaning from their writing. Through the use of these three techniques Isabelle Allende and Anna Akhmatova explore the idea of religion through their writing.