Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Deus ex Machina

Now, I'm not really a student of historical drama or plays, but apparently, in certain ancient Greek plays, the storyline would be giving a really terrible time to the protagonist, and though everyone wants the hero to pull through and save the girl/kill the badguy/defeat the monsters/all of the above, there is just no possible way for him to get out of his predicament.

But, as everyone knows, no one really likes a story where the evil guy is triumphant and the good guy fails to save the day. Unless of course, you *are* the evil guy, but for the most part, people like a good happy ending. An ending where they see the hero get the girl, kill the badguy, defeat the monsters, and rides off into the sunset.

But there is just no physically possible way for the hero to save the day! And this, is where the playwright steps in, and writes in a section where a god appears and magically makes everything right.

"And then, Johnny woke up, and realized that it was all a dream."
The most common form of Deus ex Machina found in the English Compositions of primary school children in Singapore, saving their storyline hero from evil, but alas, not saving the authors from the bane of unoriginality, or from the ire of their English teachers who have to read 70 stories that end this way.

The god-character is usually lowered (or raised, depending on the stage) onto the scene by a crane (or a platform), hence the term 'machina' (Which in case you haven't quite noticed, is where we get our word 'machine' from). And so in the end, the hero rescues the girl, slays the badguy, defeats the monster, and saves the day.

Thinking about that reminded me of this other story where everything was dark and hopeless, and there was no way there could have been a happy ending. The story is the one about humanity.

I mean, the world was pretty much screwed over when Adam and Eve chose not to follow God's commands, but decided to do things on their own. And since sin is hereditary, and they were the only people on earth, it goes on to say that there was no way that humanity would have been able to save themselves.

And so no matter how much we want to be pure, to be holy, we can't, because from the beginning, from when we were first born, sin was in us. We were doomed, and the devil was laughing because by his single act of deception, and the single moment of weakness by Adam and Eve, we were cursed to damnation away from God.

And then, God steps into this world. He sent His Son, to take away the sin, to take the punishment we deserved, and provide redemption for all humanity.

So there you have it. Christmas: The greatest Deus ex Machina ever.