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Freedom and Death

Freedom and Death

Freedom or Death is a historical novel that sheds light on the existence of the Greek nation-state after World War II. The author, Nikos Kazantzakis creates the human conflict of the novel in the battle between two captains, Michales and Polyxigis, for the same Circassian woman. An additional dynamic to the triangle created is the entrance of the noble Turk, Nuri Bey. Through the characters within the text, Cretan life is illustrated as highly patriarchal, family centered, and repressive towards women.

Freedom or Death is a far more brutal representation of man's animal side.

  • Mihalis's son Thrasaki provides what Peter Bien describes as "one of the most repulsive children in literature".
  • Thrasaki and his young male friends do not know the difference between violence and sex.
  • They are Kazantzakis's depiction of the man who has not matured.
  • Mihalis is the adult example of the immature man who has not progressed beyond the stage that his son had and thus ends his frustrated passions in a pathological manner, i.e. murder.

Freedom and Death

Kazantzakis also questions the human elements in woman in Freedom or Death. Emine is representative of a force that is the embodiment of something anti-human. She is hardly a character but rather an entity that lacks human emotion and is even shunned in preference to Nuri Bey's black stallion. Kazantzakis takes the character a step further than any woman in Zorba the Greek and gives her a sense of true power in this emotionless state.

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