Rebelling for Freedom Freedom is something that has been rebelled against for many, many years. This is a recurring motif in the short story “Dancing Bear” by Guy Vanderhaeghe. Rebellion for the sake of freedom is worth everything, even death. Dieter Bethge rebels against the rules of Mrs Hax, his own ill body, and his mind. From the beginning of the story, it is apparent that Dieter Bethge has definite hatred of Mrs. Hax.
He is constantly struggling to be free of her and her bossy, controlling ways. “The old man felt his face burn with humiliation, as it did whenever he was thwarted or ignored. ‘l want that damn thing off my bed! e yelled. ‘This is my bed! This is my house! Get it off” (Vanderhaeghe 405).
Almost every time Bethge and Mrs Hax interact, they are arguing. Bethge is fed up, and wants to be free from her ruthlessness, and fights her for the sake of his freedom, until he no longer can. The bears’ situations in this story are definite symbols of Bethge being trapped. A bear, and men in some ways, is supposed to be a strong, fearless animal, but these bears are stripped of their dignity, much like Bethge.
“He led him by a ring through the nose. When a crowd gathered, the man unsnapped the chain from the bear’s nose nd began to play a violin.It was a sad, languorous tune. For a moment, the bear tossed his head from side to side and sniffed the dirt. This, for him, was a kind of freedom. ” (Vanderhaeghe 411).
Mrs Hax is much like the bear trainer, in which the trainer is forcing the bear to be less than it is, and stripping the bear of it’s dignity. The bear has a limited freedom Just like Bethge, who can hardly do anything without Mrs Hax’s watchful eye. When Bethge finally escapes Mrs Hax by locking her out, he finally feels free. He feels accomplished and happy. “He hurries to his business. His hands fumble with the chain on the front door; at last it is fastened.His excitement leaves him breathless, and he shuffles to the back door and draws the bolt. Safe.
Mrs Hax is banished, exiled. ” (Vanderhaeghe 414). It does not matter that Bethge has lost his cigarettes or does not receive the Jersey Milk, what matters is that he is finally free, and that was worth losing his belongings and treats. Dieter Bethge is trapped by his own unhealthy, feeble body. His health is keeping him from being able to make his own decisions. ‘”So let me make this perfectly, crystal clear. That rubber sheet is staying on the bed until you forget your lazy, dirty habits and stop them accidents.
A grown man,’ she said despairingly, shaking her head. ” (Vanderhaeghe 405). Bethge is rebelling to free himself from the discomfort of the rubber sheet, but, not being able to control his own body, his voice is therefore silenced and he must be directed by Mrs Hax. Due to Bethge’s health, he is not able to eat what he would like and he is trapped, Just like a bear in captivity that is not able to hunt the food that it would like to choose. “Bethge giggled.
In a glance, Mrs Hax took in his grease-daubed chin and her plate. Well, well, look at the cat who swallowed the canary.Grinning from ear-lobe to ear-lobe with a pound of feathers bristling from his trap. ‘ ‘So? ‘ he said defiantly. ‘You think I enjoy the idea of you pawing through my food? ‘ Bethge is being forced to eat and live by Mrs Hax’s rules, cigarettes, due to the fact that he has gotten one step closer to his freedom.
The bear and Bethge’s father in the first story Bethge recounted, much resembles the relationship with Bethge and Mrs Hax. “As his father’s busy, bloody hands work, Dieter feels a growing uneasiness. The strong hands tug and tear, wrestling with the eavy, inert body as if they are frantically searching for something.Like clay unter a sculptor’s hand, the bear begins to change. Each stroke of the knife renders him less bear-like and more like something else.
” (Vanderhaeghe 407). The tugging and tearing is done by Mrs Hax, always telling him what to do and fighting with him, and the heavy, inert body is Bethge, always rebelling and struggling to free himself from Mrs. Hax’s bullying. The strokes of the knife, making him less bear like, is similar to Mrs Hax’s verbal abuses, making Bethge turn into something less than he is, causing him to rebel. Bethge is ultimately trapped by his deteriorating mind.He lives with the burden of not having a good memory, and it puts him in distress. “Yes, like the last time. Half the time you can’t remember the city John lives in, let alone the street.
The last time you tried to phone him you got the operator so balled up you would have been talking toa Chinaman in Shanghai if I hadn’t stepped in and saved your bacon. ” (Vanderhaeghe 410). Bethge is in a prision of his own mind, and he realizes that he will never be able to win with Mrs Hax, and she will always triumph over him.
Bethge cannot find freedom and peace in his mind.When he drifts off thinking, he relives the memory of the second bear and it is similar to what he is going through now. “He mocked them. Or so it seemed.
Of course, there was no music, but the bear danced much more daintily and elegantly than before, to a tune only he could perceive. And he grinned hugely, sardonically. But the trainer reached up, caught his nose ring, and yanked him down on all fours. He swore and cursed, and the bear breathed high, squeaking protests, feigning innocence. This was unacceptable. This was rebellion.
This was the treason to the man who fed him, cared for him, taught him.Bethge is the bear, and every time he tries to do something, something of his own control, Mrs Hax is there to pull on the nose ring and cause him emotional pain. Mrs Hax’s abuse brings up horrible memories that make him unhappy. He is unhappy when with Mrs Hax, and unhappy on his own thinking. The rebellion against Mrs Hax for Bethge’s freedom, is ultimately won. He finally feels peace of mind when he starts to die.
“The dancing bear had been performing for him under no compulsion,a gift freely given. It had been a perfect, graceful dance, performed without a hint of the foppishness or studied concentration that mars the dance of umans.As the bear danced he seemed to grow, as if fed by the pure, clear notes of the music. He had grown larger and larger, but Dieter had watched this with a feeling of great peace rather than alarm. ” (Vanderhaeghe 416). The bear’s dance represents Bethge right now. He is free, free of Mrs Hax, he no longer has to rebel for his freedom, and he has peace of mind, he gave his life for his freedom. In conclusion, rebelling for freedom against Mrs Hax, Bethge’s unhealthiness, and his own mind are the issues faced when Bethge fghts for his freedom.