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Jim Jones: A Trickster?

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Jim Jones is Identified as a figure from contemporary popular culture that is not explicitly drawn from mythology.

*How can Jim Jones be considered as a trickster?

*Summarize the common elements and functions of the trickster myth

*Comparisons between Jim Jones and chosen contemporary tricksters

*Describe at least one trickster from classical mythology to compare with Jim Jones

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Solution Summary

The solution is an extensive discussion of the topic of the trickster character. It draws from contemporary history in the figure of cult leader and mass murderer Jim Jones of the people's temple, putting together an essay that discusses why Jim Jones can be considered a trickster while comparing and contrasting Jones with contemporary tricksters and some from myth. a word version fo the solution is attached. References are listed for further exploration of the topic.

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Hi and thank you for using Brainmass. The solution below should get you started. You can also use the listed references for further exploration of the topic. Good luck with your studies.

OTA 105878/Xenia Jones


The Trickster: Character and Function

Tricksters are a staple figure in many myths worldwide. In study of folklore and religion, tricksters are human beings, deities, spirits or anthropomorphic creatures that display unconventional behavior, going against the norms and playing tricks or rouse to disobey, to affect and to confuse for the purpose of affecting the outcome. Tricksters often do these maliciously, being cunning. At times they do certain acts to play pranks and impart a 'lesson' on their targets. In the story, oftentimes, their actions serve a cultural task in that in 'expands' the story, creating the characters of those they trick or works to bring down the 'bigger' target of their actions to levels many can relate to. Take for instance the Norse Trickster God Loki. His schemes and his words move many gods, warriors and humans to chaos oftentimes leading to tragic events for some. Loki pushes Thor, the God of Thunder, for example, taking down the warrior-god who is otherwise far more powerful than Loki via cunning and well-placed words to willing ears. The result in some instances of course is tragic but it adds to the depth of the story. Physically handsome but with malignant intent, he is held by the Norse as the personification of evil. Balder, Thor's brother by parents Odin and Frigga, the god of the Sun, was slain by his trickery. While he himself commits murder, he normally operates by manipulating others to do his bidding.

But many Tricksters, as previously mentioned are also anthropomorphic. Take for example the Native American stories about 'the Coyote'. While in some the coyote appears heroic, in many still he appears as a trickster and a clown that either imparts lessons or goes into funny situations. For the Crow and Plains Indians for example, the Coyote can impersonate God and make people do his bidding in doing so to the Coyote's own entertainment. At the same time, the Coyote does his actions to equalize. There is a belief, among the Wasco that the Coyote takes water and other blessings from a particular people because they either do not deserve it or have way too much of it to truly appreciate it. In the modern age, while the evil and malignancy of Tricksters have been toned down, what remains are their archetypes - modern representation. One of these archetypes is that of a pranksters bent to make fun of a situation, to 'get-on-over' another to bring them down and teach them a lesson ('them' being the Trickster's target. This archetypes is played to the hilt by the character of Bart Simpson in the ever popular Fox cartoon series 'The Simpsons' and oftentimes while he gets into trouble his prankster nature makes fun of and creates chaos for everybody else as well from his own father Homer and sister Lisa to his friend Millhouse and the rest of the Springfield gang. He might not be the wisest, most intelligent or most liked but he succeeds through sheer wit and determination driven by a rebellious nature and disrespect for authority making him a disruptive personality in school and at home.

Jim Jones: A trickster?

Jim Jones, People's temple founder is not a figure that rises to mind when we think of the ...

Solution provided by:
  • MPhil/PhD (IP), Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
  • MA, Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
  • Certificate, Geva Ulpan (via Universita Tel Aviv)
  • BA, University of the Philippines
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