The play “J. B.” by MacLeish is almost like the story of Job in the bible. The keyword is almost. He changes the story in a lot of ways, but still keeps the same basic storyline. The problem of Job is that he is a man who is very religious and moral, but God takes everything away for seemingly no reason. The sinful people have seemed to escape God’s wraith, while Job is punished.
Job says that he doesn’t deserve God’s grace more then anyone else. In both the bible and the play, Job wonders why such a bad thing has happened to him. He wants to know why God has treated him so badly. The three comforters tell him that it is because we are human. No matter how hard we try to stay sinless, we cannot help it. But this argument is not satisfying for either Jobs.
They want to feel that punishment should only come to those deserving of it. The Bible version of Job’s story suggests a different answer. A young man speaks up after Job has convinced the three older men of his innocence, and he speaks of the magnificence and omnipotence of God. It implies that God has a system of justice, and that if a man finds himself in difficulties it must be through his own actions. But Job was good all of his life. The point of the Bible’s Job seems to be to learn to accept our circumstances, without turning against God because external conditions are the result of complex processes, most of which we do not understand, but we cannot let the external be the basis.
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MacLeish makes a similar point. In ‘J. B.’ he argues that we have to believe in a greater order than we can see or we would go mad and that suffering helps us learn, but he attributes the guilt men harbor for which they deserve punishment to the original Fall in the Garden of Eden and not to men’s own actions. MacLeish changes the ending of Job in ‘J.
B.’ when he adds a final scene in which he expresses his feeling that Job was humbled by accepting God’s wraith even though he did not understand God’s reasons for why he deserved his punishment. MacLeish is making the point that one should fight against fate rather than caving in beneath it. The Bible does say that God helps those who help themselves. MacLeish believes Job should be true to his own feelings of innocence and make the most of his own humanity.
Besides the meaning of the story, there are still other differences. MacLeish added a lot more symbolism in his work The play is set in modern times instead of Bible times. The circus setting is one example of this change. The significance of the circus is that it can be taken that all of life is a show. Satan and God are represented by a balloon vendor and a popcorn vendor.
The popcorn vendor can be taken as more nourishing and basic, which is sold by Satan. God is selling the balloons, which is basically hot air. During the play, there is more symbolism that is not in the Bible. The God mask having its eyes closed and the Satan mask with its eyes open with an unhappy grin are examples. MacLeish changing the story of the bible adds a modern touch on it and makes it easier for people to relate to. This change also adds a personal touch of what MacLeish believes in that is somewhat different from the bible.
He adds his own views basically in the end. The story in the play is the same, but with a little modern twist. The analyzing of why it happened is when MacLeish really changes the story. He believes that God sits back and does not affect people all that much. We must take control of our own life.
... encouraged Jacob to develop! ! (Exodus 20: 16-18) God changes throughout the entire Bible, but these accounts are painfully clear in the first ... acceptable. Different interpretations, stories, and myths collided throughout time, the discontinuity of the Old Testament shows this. The Bible can not be ...