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“The Blind Men and the Elephant” Poem by Saxe

Introduction

The poem “The Blind Men and the Elephant” by John Godfrey Saxe depicts the actions of six blind men in their attempt at trying to discern what an elephant is like based on their perceptions. The result is a series of rather humorous descriptions wherein each man ascertains the entirety of the elephant based on touching its parts.

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Favorite quotation and explanation

“Though each was partly in the right, And all were in the wrong!”1

For me, this is my favorite quote out of the entire poem since it embodies all the actions of the blind men as well as shows that while each of them was right in their way they were all wrong at the same time. Taking in the poem in its entirety it can be seen that its main message is that of perception in that all too often people look at the bits and pieces of events, topics, and problems and fail to see the whole in its entirety.

This results in each person having their interpretation as to the causes of events and problems which creates even more confusion. For example, up till now, people are still arguing over the causes of various mental illnesses, historical events, and scientific phenomena with each school of thought having their ideas and sticking to those ideas despite the presence of other factors advocated by other schools of thought. It is based on this that the poem itself can be thought of as a metaphorical representation of humanity as a whole with all of us being blind and understanding only a part of the events, problems, and challenges that occur in our lives. Saxe alludes to my interpretation by stating the following quotation”

“So oft in theologic wars, The disputants, I ween, Rail on in utter ignorance Of what each other mean”. The term “theologic wars” is based on the various present-day theologic debates over religion that have been occurring for the past thousand years with each side expressing that their faith is the best while wholly ignoring the fact that the main purpose of religion was to help the masses and praise God rather than engage in a useless bantering, fighting, and oppression.

Story: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

The story “The Man who Mistook His Wife for a Hat” by Oliver Sacks is a rather interesting tale of a man who suffers from some form of the neurologic condition resulting in him being unable to look at the entirety of a particular object but rather on its features instead. While it is evident that the character of Dr. P has continued to maintain his mental brilliance in that he is still a musical genius and can speak normally the rather sad fact remains that he seems blissfully unaware of his current problem and seems to think of it as a problem with his eyes rather than a severe and debilitating neurological condition.

Favorite Quotation and Explanation

“But who was more tragic, who was more damned – the man who knew it or the man who did not?”2

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This particular quote resonates with the entirety of the story due to how Dr. P throughout the entirety of the prose didn’t seem to notice or even consider the seriousness of his situation. He merely thought of thinking of his wife as a hat as mildly amusing, that his inability to read sheet music a minor inconvenience, and that being unable to recognize people aside from particular details of their face or their voice as being rather normal.

In the story, it is noted that Zazetsky, a person who suffered from a similar condition fought tooth and nail to “normalize” his way of thinking. This is interesting to take note of since Zazetsky knew there was something wrong with himself and tried everything to overcome it while Dr. P didn’t even seem to mind or care. One of them was full of frustration over his condition while the other didn’t even think he had a condition at all. It is this perspective that is important to take note of in the story because Dr. P seemingly was able to live his life free from any perceived problems. If the condition was not pointed out to him he wouldn’t have even considered it a problem.

In fact, for me, the story has a certain life lesson that states that “a problem only becomes a problem if you acknowledge it as such”. Dr. P didn’t acknowledge it and he lived a rather fulfilled life while Zazetsky lived his full of frustration. This particular lesson can be applied to all our lives in that we often put more importance on our problems than we really should. If we lived our lives in which we take our problems in stride like Dr. P we may find ourselves living a better and more fulfilled life.

Reference List

Sacks, Oliver. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and other clinical tales. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998.

Saxe, John. Blind Men and the Elephant. 1816 – 1887.

Footnotes

  1. Sacks, Oliver. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and other clinical tales. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998.
  2. Saxe, John. Blind Men and the Elephant. 1816 – 1887.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, April 29). “The Blind Men and the Elephant” Poem by Saxe. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/the-blind-men-and-the-elephant-poem-by-saxe/

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StudyCorgi. (2021, April 29). “The Blind Men and the Elephant” Poem by Saxe. https://studycorgi.com/the-blind-men-and-the-elephant-poem-by-saxe/

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"“The Blind Men and the Elephant” Poem by Saxe." StudyCorgi, 29 Apr. 2021, studycorgi.com/the-blind-men-and-the-elephant-poem-by-saxe/.

1. StudyCorgi. "“The Blind Men and the Elephant” Poem by Saxe." April 29, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/the-blind-men-and-the-elephant-poem-by-saxe/.


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StudyCorgi. "“The Blind Men and the Elephant” Poem by Saxe." April 29, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/the-blind-men-and-the-elephant-poem-by-saxe/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "“The Blind Men and the Elephant” Poem by Saxe." April 29, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/the-blind-men-and-the-elephant-poem-by-saxe/.

References

StudyCorgi. (2021) '“The Blind Men and the Elephant” Poem by Saxe'. 29 April.

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