Vanity of Vanities!
What’s the meaning of life? What are the ends of my actions, of my thoughts? What will be my legacy? Questions are everywhere and the great search is for the answers. The great question I pose is: What does it take to understand the futility of life? Solomon, Ayesha, and Holly all have their take on vanity which they reach in different ways.
It took Solomon buying, seeing, and experiencing everything “under the sun” before he realized that there’s nothing new. Solomon was a king of Israel (of course not THE king) that is viewed as one of the wisest men from the Bible. He talked about how all things in life are the same and stay the same. “The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course.” (“Holy Bible” 556) The weather has a routine he explains, and Solomon goes on in Ecclesiastes to talk about how meaningless everything is. He arrives here after all of his ventures including wealth (all his stuff), labor, and his 700 wives. This is a man who had everything and realized he had nothing. There was nothing to aspire to, for he had it all.
Queen Ayesha references Solomon as “the wise Hebrew”(Haggard 183) in She. Ayesha also understands this futility, but she sees it through the people who have come and passed before, dead in the Tombs of Kôr. Still there, she gives her futility of life harangue to Holly, even admitting that she too will meet the same fate of the dead in the tomb. She says, “a day will dawn whereon I shall die, and be even as thou art and these are.” (Haggard 189) She knows death is meant for everyone in this moment, even herself. The difference between Solomon and Ayesha is that Ayesha seems to be such a fan of the vanity philosophy that she doesn’t think much when she has people killed. Is it possible that she thinks the dead are the lucky ones?
Mr. Holly also has his own take on the idea of vanity in She from the Tombs. He sees the dead mother and child and shows the futility of writing. He writes, “There they were before us, mother and babe, the white memories of a forgotten human history speaking more eloquently to the heart than could any written record of their lives.” (Haggard 186) Holly shows how being in a situation, being in the moment, and witnessing personally is what matters in life–history books can’t express the feeling and emotion in the real moment. The irony is that he is documenting all of this he’s thinking for someone to read.
All of these characters had their perspectives on vanity and life, what means something and what is meaningless. I think we can learn through reading about these characters, these people, how to understand our own lives and come to vanity in our own time.
Haggard, H. Rider . She. London: Penguin Group, 1886, 2001. 183-89. print.
The Holy Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005. 556. Print.