Reading books always gives us pleasure, because one can actually dwell into imagination and enjoy the depth of the story as it goes. It soothes the mind, takes away stress and gives an unparalleled sense of freedom. Such is the book, ‘The Prophet’.
‘The Prophet’, by Kahlil Gibran, is a book of 26 prose and poetry, written in English and translated into forty languages since its release in 1923. This classic revolves around the discussion of human emotions and virtues such as, joy and sorrow, crime and punishment, freedom, pleasure, reason and passion, pain, self-knowledge, friendship, talking, time, good and evil, prayer, pleasure, beauty, religion, and death. It is Gibran’s best known work.
As described by the Independent, ‘It massages your soul and leaves you wishing you too could express yourself in such a profound and beautiful way.’
Instead of going about this review in the usual way, we decided to interview one of the its readers, Amarpali Singh, to give you insight into the book.
Question 1: How did you experience the book? Were you engaged immediately, or did it take you a while to ‘get into it’?
Response: The book is called ‘The Prophet’ by Kahlil Gibran. It is difficult to try and make out what the book has to offer after reading just the first page. There are a lot of human emotions associated with this book, and being a classic, it felt amazing and liberating to read this book!
Question 2: Describe the main characters, their personality traits, motivations and inner qualities.
Response: The main character of the story is a man named ‘Almustafa’. He is a sage and spiritual leader. He is living on an island since twelve years waiting for the right ship to take him home. During his stay, he received much admiration from the islanders. Before he leaves, they ask him to deliver his teachings on virtues such as love, freedom, property, time and prayer.
Question 3: Are the main characters dynamic—changing or maturing by the end of the book? Do they learn about themselves, how the world works and their role in it?
Response: The main character being a spiritual leader is a well learned person and has evolved to a level where he is a teacher. He gives teachings on various topics relating to life.
Question 4: What is the plot about?
Response: Almustafa lives on an island called Orphalese. People of the town take him as a sage and spiritual leader, but he doesn’t belong here, and waits twelve years for the right ship to go home. When the ship finally arrives and he is about to leave the town, people of the city ask him to stay or at least share his philosophy of life before he goes. Now, what he speaks is the foundation of the book. He is asked to speak on various topics of life such as love and marriage, sorrow and pain, work, property, children, freedom, prayer etc. He mentions that after the painful time has passed, one must look back to find a purpose behind that, which concludes his final word.
Question 5: Let’s talk about the book’s structure.
Response: The book is divided into several chapters, each discussing the topics of life such as love and marriage, sorrow and pain, work, freedom, laws, children, etc. while the author also gives examples to support the philosophy.
Question 6: What main ideas/themes does the author explore?
Response: The protagonist through his parables teaches that life’s purpose is to be glad in the pain, for when life passes by, one can see that it had a pattern and purpose for the soul. The greatest teaching which personally struck me and many hearts is that the book teaches that the separation is merely an illusion. It points towards us being one in greater unity in the grand scheme of life.
When Almustafa leaves and looks ahead for his journey, he believes himself to be “a boundless drop in a boundless ocean.” And that is a perfect note to sum up a simply put philosophy of life, as described in the book.
Question 7: What passages strike you as insightful, even profound? Perhaps a bit of dialog that’s funny or poignant or that encapsulates a character?
Response: There are two chapters on marriage and children which I found perceptive.
On the one about marriage, Almustafa goes on to explain that there must be spaces in togetherness. Just like two trees can’t grow in a limited space and two pillars can’t support the temple unless placed separately, one partner must not overpower or hamper the other’s growth. My favourite quote from this chapter is ‘And let the winds of the heavens dance between you’.
In regard to children, Almustafa says that children come from you, but do not belong to you. You act as bows and they as arrows. Just as arrows define their own direction and path, children mustn’t be made to follow your thoughts and must be encouraged to follow their dreams.
Question 8: Is the ending satisfying? If so, why? If not, why not and how would you change it?
Response: There is nothing I would change in this classic piece. But yes, it was unsatisfying to see him leave the island where he’d lived for so long now. He believed that being happy is the ultimate aim and teachings come from different sources.
Question 9: If you could ask the author a question, what would you ask? Have you read other books by the same author?
Response: Kahlil Gibran is one of my favourite authors and I have read many of his books.
If I had the chance to ask him one question… umm… I would ask him how he managed to write such timeless pieces which are valid even today. This book was published in the year 1923, and still it’s amazing how his words have surpassed time.
Question 10: Has this novel changed you—broadened your perspective? Have you learnt something new or been exposed to different ideas about people or a certain part of the world?
Response: In every way possible! I have definitely become a better person and the book has broadened my perspective on life. This book will lead you, heal you and liberate you in the most comforting manner words could ever do.
Amarpali Singh a.k.a Amy is a spoken word poet, storyteller and a blogger who is also a relentless stargazer and hopelessly hopeful human. Despite facing immense hardships at an early stage, she has risen to become a strong inspirational figure. Her unparalleled strength is the power she sees in words and their capability to transform the world for good. A very delightful person to talk to, always willing to share her experiences so that she can motivate people as she herself is.
About the Author:
The author is a student of UIET, PU. Is a great foodie and loves exploring the charms of nature. Indulges in sharing life experiences and hearing out others’. Fiercely independent, she believes in standing up for what is right and desires honesty from companions. Unconventional and proud of it!