A Greimassian semiotic analysis of Judith
Hobyane, Risimati Synod.
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The goal of the study is to investigate the possible purpose of the Judith narrative by using the Greimassian semiotic approach. The hypothesis of the study is that the Greimassian semiotic approach is insightful and useful in revealing the possible purpose of Judith. This can be achieved through studying the contrasting core values in the narrative following from the method chosen. The investigation of Judith involves three levels of analyses as guided by the Greimassian semiotic approach, i.e. the Figurative, the Narrative and the Thematic analysis. The thesis comprises five chapters, viz. Chapter 1 is the introduction to the study; Chapter 2 presents the Figurative analysis; Chapter 3 portrays the Narrative analysis; Chapter 4 represents the Thematic analysis; and finally Chapter 5 constitutes the summary of the research and concluding remarks. Chapter 5 further asserts the contribution of this research to the literary study of Judith and offers recommendations for further research. The outline of the investigation, as dictated by the Greimassian semiotic approach, is as follows: The Figurative analysis entails investigating the figurative oppositions, motifs and the emplotment of the Judith narrative. The Narrative analysis involves investigating the structure of the narrative, the actantial configuration and the canonical narrative schema. The third and last step of analysis, Thematic analysis, concerns using the semiotic square and the veridictory square to investigate the fundamental values that generated the story of Judith. The core values are distinguished in terms of ‘good’ versus ‘evil’ and ‘truth’ versus ‘falsehood’. The Thematic analysis, the study of the contrasting values in particular, further involves exploring the trajectory of these values from the beginning of the narrative to the end. The study concludes, first, that the use of the Greimassian semiotic approach does reveal the possible purpose of Judith. The findings resulting from the three steps of analysis reveal that the central concern of Judith is the survival of the Jewish religion. According to Cohen (2006:50) the Second Temple period was a time marked by the intense interaction between Judaism and its ambient culture, producing in some quarters a hatred of Judaism but in others an attraction to it (resulting in converts and “God fearers”). Against this kind of challenges in the Second Temple period, the analysis concludes that the possible purpose of Judith was to rejuvenate the Jewish religion during this time of crisis. The story raises the awareness of the Jewish people to defend their religion, and the values associated with it, from any form of assault and possible extinction.
- Humanities