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Reflection on John Steinbeck's The Snake Essay

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Reflection on John Steinbeck's The Snake


"The Snake" is a short story written by John Steinbeck. It tells about a biologist, Dr. Phillips and a mysterious woman. One day while Dr. Phillips was doing an experiment on starfish, a woman with black came into his room mysteriously. She came to him just wanting to buy a male rattlesnake from Dr. Phillips, the biologist. And then she asked Dr. Phillips to feed the male rattlesnake a rat so that she could watch the whole process. Then at last the women left him and never came back again.

John Steinbeck's short story is somehow hard to understand. There are a lot of discussions about it too. It is really a highly symbolized story, though the central meaning is not very obvious. There are a lot of questions aroused in readers' minds. Who is the mysterious woman? What does she really want? Why does she behave so strangely? And so on. Some people think that the woman is like the snake or is the snake. She is mysterious and evil. She is the lust to Dr. Phillips, and disturbed his life from then on. Dr. Phillips could not resist the lust from the woman or the snake so his life had been changed since then.

Does this mysterious woman just play this role in the story? Is Dr. Phillips only the victim in the story? Is there any deeper meaning behind the lines and the characters? Why does the woman appear suddenly and how can she ask Dr. Phillips to do whatever she wants and he does obey? Doesn't the woman have anything with the man in the story?

According to C. G. Jung, a Swiss psychologist-philosopher, every archetype can be designated as the shadow, the persona and the anima. The shadow, the persona and the anima are structural components of the psyche that humans have inherited; the...


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... mysterious woman, or the struggle between the conscious will and the unconscious world of Dr. Phillips. That is to say, it is the struggle in the anima of Dr. Phillips. The whole battle is caused by the apparition of the woman, therefore, it is safe to say that Dr. Phillips' anima has been projected on the woman with a lot of strange behaviors. The woman has played the role as the anima of Dr. Phillips.

John Steinbeck's short story "The Snake" is an excellent story, though it is very short and the plot is simple. There must have much more meaning behind the words and the story. It is not possible to figure all of them out in such a small essay, and the understanding in this essay is only based the reader's personal understanding and limited knowledge. Therefore, it is impossible to be perfect or to be rich enough. It is open to all the suggestions and corrections.


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