Power and Manipulation

Last week, the biggest topic being discussed in class was what Percival Everett was doing in Frenzy that was for, to, or with The Bacchae. Everyone in my group immediately started throwing out ideas. My first response was that the characters were more detailed and it was easier to describe them in Frenzy. I was told then, as Beth likes to say, to “unpack” what I mean. Well for one, if anyone asks me to characterize the main character Dionysus after reading The Bacchae, I wouldn’t really have enough evidence to say that he isn’t a good God. However, after reading Percival Everett’s novel, Frenzy, there is enough detail for me to say prove that Dionysus is manipulative, intense, and even emotional. 

As I read through Frenzy, I started to notice the trend that Dionysus would abuse his power. As the novel played out, he began to take advantage that Vlepo, the narrator, was completely devoted to him and would do literally anything for Dionysus. It seems that no matter what Dionysus did, Vlepo would be there for him. Dionysus continued to do what he thought was the right thing, just to end up hurting those that worship him. “Vlepo, Vlepo, what would I do without you, my eyes? Why, without my eyes I would not exist” (Everett 71). Dionysus can admit that he needs vlepo to survive but he had already been cruel enough to Vlepo by putting him in situations he didn’t want to be in. 

As I tried to characterize Dionysus throughout The Bacchae, I really could not decide if he was good or evil or both. It was hard for me to get a hold on what he was doing that made him so powerful and that made so many women in Thebes worship him. In Frenzy, Percival Everett really exposed Dionysus as a character. He is manipulative. He moved from one women to the next as if they were nothing. He uses Vlepo and rarely admits that he needs him and never says a simple “thank you.” Why is he like this? Maybe it’s because he is a God and so he can use his power however he pleases. Or maybe it’s because he’s insecure. 

Ultimately, I believe it’s the power that is driving Dionysus to act so cruel and to push around Vlepo who is constantly there for him. I believe Everett is taking a simple play and turning it into something to create a deeper understanding of this God of wine and fertility. He may be allowing the readers to sit back and think about why Dionysus does what he does and why he is the way that he is. He is allowing the audience to create their own version of Dionysus and choose their own traits for him and what they believe he should be viewed as.

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