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The Book of Ecclesiastes, which was written by Solomon, insists that life is meaningless and futile. This theme is also explored throughout the song “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas. The song deals with themes seen throughout the Book of Ecclesiastes, such as the inevitability of both time and death, as well as the vanity of everything. The singer says, “I close my eyes, only for a moment/ And the moment’s gone” and later, “All we do crumbles to the ground/ Though we refuse to see/ Dust in the wind/ All we are is dust in the wind. ” (Livgren, “Dust in the Wind”) Solomon shares a similar belief throughout Ecclesiastes. This theme can be found when the teacher declares, “Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless…” and “Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. ” (Ecclesiastes 1:2, 1:4), which Kansas’s lyrics of “Now don’t hang on, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky” allude to. Also, the line, “dust in the wind,” is reminiscent of the statement, “All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. ” (Ecclesiastes 3:20) This theme of meaninglessness is also expressed in the film Groundhog Day. This movie follows Phil Connors, a TV weatherman forced to relive the same day over and over again. In attempts to overcome the monotony of living the same day repeatedly, Phil pursues pleasure, riches, and sex, only to grow tired and drift into despair. For the majority of the film, Phil struggles to find meaning and contentment to the point in which he repeatedly attempts to kill himself, though still finds no satisfaction. All of Phil’s attempts to find meaning and satisfaction in life echo the paths Solomon walks in pursuit of meaning. Both pursue pleasure and wealth, only to find they are all vanity. Both are frustrated by the sameness and indifference of all things, as addressed by the teacher, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. ” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
The Book of Job explores the theme of great suffering. The song “One” by Metallica paints a truly terrifying picture of this theme. In the song, the main character is hit by a landmine explosion that takes away his limbs and face, leaving him barely alive and feeling only pain. The great amount of suffering this character is undergoing is evident through his words, “Deep down inside I feel to scream/ This terrible silence stops me” and his repeated cry, “Hold my breath as I wish for death/ Oh please God, wake me. ” (Hetfield, “One”) This is the ultimate expression of suffering, both internal and external, as well as helplessness in the situation. Job also undergoes a great deal of suffering. Similarly, Job goes a far as saying he wishes he was never born. In his suffering, Job declares, “May the day of my birth perish, and the night that said, ‘A boy is conceived!’” (Job 3:3) This theme of suffering is also seen throughout the 1994 film, The Shawshank Redemption. The main character, Andy Dufresne, is wrongly convicted of murdering his wife and her lover and sentenced to life imprisonment at Shawshank Prison. The film spans 19 years of Andy’s imprisonment and suffering. Andy experiences confinement, dreadful punishments, horrendous abuse from other prisoners, and witnesses corruption throughout Shawshank, though never lets go of hope. Similar to Andy, Job endures unjust suffering. Job was a righteous man and even described as “blameless and upright” by God. In the midst of his suffering, Job wishes to take God to court.
The theme of Song of Songs, which was written by Solomon, is love. Love is a common theme throughout literature, music, and cinema. A particular song that expresses the theme of love is “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Michael Bolton. The song was first recorded by Percy Sledge in 1966. The singer says, “When a man loves a woman/ Can’t keep his mind on nothin’ else/ He’d trade the world/ For the good thing he’s found/ If she is bad, he can’t see it/ She can do no wrong. ” (Sledge, “When a Man Loves a Woman”) The man in Song of Songs tells his beloved, “You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you” and later, she says, “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me. ”(Song of Songs 4:7, 7:10) As the song says, when a man loves a woman, his mind is only on her and to him, she is without flaw. The theme of love is also seen in the 1987 film, The Princess Bride. The movie takes a fairy tale spin on true love, which is the main catalyst of the film. The main characters, Westley and Buttercup, who share true love are separated from each other. Their love for each other causes Buttercup to swear she’ll never love again and Westley to promise he’ll always come for her. Westley describes their love, “This is true love. . . You think this happens every day?” When Westley encounters the Dread Pirate Roberts, he pleads to be kept alive in order to reunite with his true love. His description of Buttercup’s beauty intrigues Roberts enough to spare him. This is reminiscent of the man in Song of Song’s multiple descriptions of his beloved’s beauty. He likens her eyes to doves, her hair to a flock of goats descending the hills, and her teeth to a flock of sheep just shorn. (Song of Songs 4:1-2)
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