Farzin Yazdanfar

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Hedayat's painting

Hedayat's painting
"Le violoniste"

In politically restricted societies, political and social writing many times takes the form of story telling. For this reason, Hedayat wrote "Story with a Moral." This story was written in the form of a hekayat or advice story, an indigenous kind of story telling typical of the Middle Eastern cultures.

Young Hedayat's picture

In this story, an archetypal pattern of thinking is displayed in the relationships portrayed therein. The mother-in-law, or old female, represents the old generation. She is opposed to the daughter-in-law, or young female, who represents the younger generation. The young woman is also opposed to her husband, or young male, representing the male-dominated society of Iran at the time the story was written. There is opposition between the characters which is described in terms of gender and generation. As seen in this story, the young female, representing the younger generation and its new ideas, prevails over the older female, representing the older generation and its traditions.

The story also has a contemporary ring to it. What gives it this particular characteristic, even though the story could have happened in any time frame, is the psychological analysis for the character's behavior. The husband does not hit his wife because he is a mean person. Instead, we see that he is motivated to do so by the hatred his mother creates in him with her story.

Character names in this story suggest the author's use of symbolism to express his opinions in the traditionally restricted and politically stifling society of Iran in the 1930s. For example, the man's name, Zulfaqar, the name used for Ali's sword, also meaning one with a strong backbone, can both refer to the man's use of his power (strong backbone) against his wife in the male-dominated society of Iran. Zulfaqar may also represent the ambivalent role of the clergy in the Iranian society of this period, the clergy who bowed to the tradition and authority while wielding considerable power. The mother-in-law is called Gowhar Sultan. Gowhar means jewel and essence, and Sultan means king. The name may well refer to the authoritarian and oppressive role of the King and ruling class, who used tradition to oppose new ideas and subordinate their subjects. The daughter-in-law's name is Setareh which means star or fate. Although she is weak and oppressed, she eventually determines her fate by throwing the mother-in-law into the fire.

Thus, each character suggests a facet of Iranian society at the time the story was written. The mother-in-law represents the ruling oppressors and her son, intermediate clergy, subordinated to them. The oppressed subjects are represented by the daughter-in-law in this story, who finally takes her fate in her hand and overthrows the source of her oppression.

Hedayat's drawing

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