The Symbolism of Death & Women in "The Blind Owl" by Sadeqh Hedayat

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Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • The Blind Owl
  • Introduction
  • Body section
  • The symbolism of death and women
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography:


"I thought to myself: if it’s true that every person has a star in the sky, mine must be distant, dim, and absurd. Perhaps I never had a star.” (The Blind Owl Quotes, n.d.)― Sadegh Hedayat.

The Blind Owl

Sadeqh Hedayat was greatest Iranian writers during his period. He born in 1903 in Persia. Hedayat considered one of the first writers who adopted modernist technique in Perion fiction. He committed suicide on 1951in France. one of his most popular and important work is The Blind Owl that was originally written in the Persian language on 1936 in India and it was marked as not for sale in Iran. An assumption was made at that time that Hedayat was feared of all rule of Reza Shah and he also feared specifically that maybe his work will be against the norms of the country. The Blind Owl published 1952 in Perion after he died and translated to France in the same year of publication. The Blind Owl was also translated in many different languages as it has a great audience.

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The novel is about how the author sees the world and how much he wants to be isolated. He functions as the system of epistemology but he never progressing and never learning. A feminist critique may stop there. I guess there are many ways to say that how he thinks about the women and to say about the different ways which related to the way he thinks about the truth. The intellectuals of males of the time and long after accepting the principals of equality and freedom for both of the male and females at the same time growing up with the traditional notions of good, virginal women and non-sexual no doubt would have any kind of issues coping with the new image.

In the selected novel, the author put more focus on the importance of the salvation of people and also stresses that all people reform is the prerequisite for the reforms of the whole community. All people in ray should also realize the intrinsic importance of his one inborn gift of freedom and he should also struggle for unshackle the fetters which bind him to the authority of the whore. A person can also become the recluse and attain the degree of false freedom and he also may wage an unending war just like the author by enlightening his fellows’ residents. Man is powerless as the member of the cosmos and he is born without his consent and he lives in spite of himself and dies against his wishes. That is why a repressive authority on the society level can be crippled by not obeying or the desertion of the man who would be free, one is not able to leave the cosmos.

There is a clear message in The Blind Owl that focuses on the people strangulation in Iran under government control. the writer presents a story about the isolation of a man and used strong different symbols allusions, and contemplations to clarify the idea and his feeling, of the conditions of human, literacy and religious texts. All of these things made it a good place for the critical interpretation. His weakness is reflecting off his inability to change to the good of Iran.

Characters who suffer from suicidal temptations/puzzles of humanity/ his self-analysis/dream technique miss with unreality/ simple style it correlated the events in the Bardo Thodol with those in the Blind Owl. The Blind Owl is a novel of fiction and the correspondences are not much accurate as one would like them to be. While the author is normally aware of the details, he also has many options for destroying them and for refereeing them symbolically. The idea is to show that the author used the concept of liberation from the materials for making the point regarding the ability of men for liberating himself from the bondage of other humans. He tried to show the Persian civilization and glorious through women symbol.

Body section

The pessimism and depression are dominated in the story. I normally roll my eyes on whenever the phrase of Oedipus Complex comes into the interpretation so in this case, I think that this word is exactly what the author was aiming for. In the novel, the one and an only character named was his mother and he ha mentioned his dancing of his mother in very sensual detail as he was totally obsessed sexually regarding all maternal figures in his life which has the inclusion of his aunt and his nanny. He married a person whom he really did like as his wife always remind him of his aunt.

The view of the author regarding his mother and nanny was really sexually unattainable but that view was extended to his wife and that’s the reason, the author mentioned that he never slept with his wife which makes his wife totally mad. I have interpreted from these obsessive delusions as not right and I assume that he had coupled with his wife but in his madness repressed all of those memories and made a new delusion memory regarding other men in the society. I am not sure that wife was his aunt child or not or she may also have been the daughter of his nanny but it’s not clear to me. The Oedipus complex extended in the direction of his own feelings of his father and his uncle and also his father in law.

He was of the view of having some of the fear and he also loathes the idea of any of these men they had who merged with other in his own mind. I guess they all were merged with his own mind so that he was being afraid and loathed himself may be for his sexual desires for males which were always unsatisfied. Yeah, I don’t think that the novel is entirely about the Oedipus complex which was the main theme which jumped out at me on my perusal but the whole story was about a man who was completely alone from all of the worlds and he was a kind of man who would never belong. He is a kind of man who had no one to unburden himself to as the world which surrounds him has been crumbled into surreal chaos. The whole of the world is crumbling around him was really like how he viewed the socio-economic failure of Iran. (B, The Blind Owl, by Sadegh Hedayat, 2012)

The symbolism of death and women

It can be seen in the novel that the author is mentioning many symbols related to women which are showing many of his own characteristics which cannot be shown otherwise. For penetrating into the heart of the problem of the author, the reader may also relate the experience of mothering and of women to issues of dependence and ego weakness. Male and female are two different aspects of the same personality and reader may also see them as relating to modes of knowing and dealing with the world.

Thinking and well communicating verbally are symbols related to the male while on the other hand, communication by emotions, empathy is related to female. It can be seen from reading the novel that writer is suffering from the split in personality and he is trying to integrate a split off female elements and he is trying for projecting the dread and fear of his own element of the female. In these kinds of problems of women, it is bound up with the attitude of one person and it is mostly the female characteristics which are dissociated in both of the male and female. Iran is a kind of masculine community and there are a great deal of contemporary culture. When there come some insecurities of existence, the dynamics of males is employed as the substitute for female elements of being. In these situations, men normally have issues in accepting the element of the female which is not acceptable in the society.

In the novel, the transformation of Iranian women has been mentioned from an old traditional way to modern century women. They also challenged the bi-polar image of women as the virtuous versus the prostitute. The male’s thoughts are growing by accepting the equality but at the same time, they are also growing with the thought of non-sexual virgin women, no doubt they would have had problems coping with the new image. These men would be in need of her existence or impelled for destroying her. It can be observed from the novel, that writer is not able to cope up with the emergence of new modern women. The element of a female in the novel has been mentioned as a dramatization of endophytic situations to be understood as attempts for expressing the attitude of a writer for women.

The cultural experiences of the Author and the masculinity of the society in which he lives also has its impact on such dramatization. The symbols the author has used in the novel are very illuminating specifically eyes faces are important because women are mostly connected to the creative reflection. The writer is actually trying for having the confirmation of identity and he is a bit desperate for the eyes and faces which can respond to him for confirmation of his being. When he is not able to find the confirmation, his life is forfeit. Then the issue of women become the issue of existence. A woman can create by reflecting the writer and she can also leave him without the creation of identity. From these problems, a man made an ideal woman who does not have any problems of being mortal or sexual. The ethereal women are a kind of immortal, manic and magical women.

After this, the author has also mentioned that the ethereal women should remain in the world of death and she should not be touched and not be seen by anyone. After some time, the ethereal women and mother become one and it can be noticed that why the author is so pre-occupied with the woman as the main focus of the problem of life and death. Mother is the birth giver and the author has mentioned that mother withdraws and there is much need o find her. The ethereal women become the mother and how one could bear the sex with her for entering into her body. That is why all suggestions of love intimacy with women in the sexual sense should be avoided which is not possible according to the author and in this situation, the sexual love becomes the focus of collapse of security and being.

His search for having the ideal women does not come to end and his wife also becomes the same as the mother and the ethereal women. He uses the symbol of the quest for finding the mother in the world of death and for obtaining from her the completion of reflection and that is why restoring the meaning of life. He was left with the meaning of existence after the death of his mother and he needs to have the new sense of time for having the confirmation of identity and reconciliation with his own morality. His relationship with the element of females lies behind the collapse of his relationship with all world and the earth has become an evil thing.

The probability of doing the suicide increases when he understands that it is not possible for distinguishing the real from the painted appearances is one which cannot be borne. In the novel, it is also mentioned that the author is in the belief that corruption of relationship by the sexual contact bring nothing which again shows that the presence of schizoid element presents in his mind. These kinds of person need to be isolated and union with the women will not be helpful for him to bring him in the path of separateness. That is the reason that he buries the women. After that he becomes free. He was alone, but he was alive, he put down the inferior half of himself which was making him fearful and was making him diseased.


I am of the view that this kind of book which I read is a bit something new and it can be new for everyone even if one meticulously read it for years. When I finish reading this novel, I feel that everyone in it was the same with respect to the metaphor and all of them were having a wish for killing some other person. All of them could hate others and all of them were suffering from some lie. There were full hypocrisy and treason, and all want for getting rid of it which he calls it life. It is written regarding the sadness and suffering mentioned in the story but making the reader feels what the author feels is not an easy task which has been done successfully by the author.

The author is intelligent enough when he writes about his own feelings as he gives much detail about it and in some instances, he also repeats the events for letting reader go deeply in to the novel and as the reader are with them, but I guess he does not succeed when he tried for executing the freedom as human being and faith in existence. I would rather say that his novel was completely impacted by Iran and his trip to India and France and he knew about habitats of Iranian and about their celebrations like Neros. In the end, there is no doubt that this work is the great work as it is very easy to read and understand nowadays as when I read the novel, I feel like I live with them and they haunt me. (B, The Blind Owl, by Sadegh Hedayat, 2012)


  1. B, R. (2012, Sep 23). The Blind Owl, by Sadegh Hedayat. Retrieved Sep 27, 2018, from Resistance Is Futile:
  2. Mostaghe, D. P. (2017). ASYMPTOTE. Retrieved Sep 27, 2018, from Houman Barekat reviews The Blind Owl and Other Stories by Sadeq Hedayat:
  3. The Blind Owl Quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved Sep 27, 2018, from Good Reads:

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