Gimpel The Fool Essay, Research Paper
In Isaac Bashevis Singer s Gimpel the Fool , Gimpel is treated with no respect from his peers or the society of Frampol where he lives. Gimpel s life has been riddled with tricks and lies from the townspeople for as long as he can remember. No one respects Gimpel or has any sympathy for him and his misfortunes. Gimpel allows himself to be the schlemiel of the town because of his unwillingness to stand up for himself and the truth (Sobeloff 1). Gimpel eventually causes himself so much misery by allowing himself to be the butt of all of the jokes in Frampol that he can no longer stand his own life.
Gimpel believes whatever he hears, and that causes people to continue to belittle him. His friends and peers have deceived Gimpel since he was a boy in school (Singer 131). Gimpel s peers would tell him things such as the Rabbi s wife was pregnant or that his mother and father had risen from the grave and were looking for him (Singer 131-132). Gimpel believed all of the lies because he did not know what else to do (Singer 131). Elka also told her share of lies to Gimpel, which he also reluctantly believed. Elka convinced him that the child that she had only four months after there wedding was his son. She also told Gimpel that she was faithful to him when she really was not. Gimpel may have believed all of the lies and deceptions because he thought it would be easier to go along with them than to try to stand up against the whole town and all of their cunningness (Sobeloff 2). Gimpel even says that if he ever would say, Ah, you re kidding! that it caused trouble and that people got angry (Singer 131).
Because of his gullibility and cowardly behavior, Gimpel became the joke of the town of Frampol. Whenever there is a joke to be made it is always aimed towards Gimpel. Gimpel s friends picked on him in school and continue by convincing him to marry Elka. Gimpel did not want to marry Elka and thought that she was a whore , but
he did because he thought it would give him some respect and give him a chance to be the master (Singer 132). They tell him things to make a fool of him such as he must kiss the wall of the rabbinical court after every visit, or that the messiah has come (Singer 132). The people of Frampol get pleasure and laughs out of Gimpel s misery and embarrassment. Gimpel s wife also takes him for a fool. Elka tells Gimpel that the boy she had prior to marrying him is her brother. Gimpel has a suspicion that this is not true but he stays quiet. She also tells him that she is faithful to him when in fact, she is cheating on him behind his back. Gimpel even catches her in bed with another man one night when he comes home from the bakery, but he still says nothing to her. As long as Gimpel never stands up for himself he is an easy target for the town to play pranks on and he begins to realize it (Singer 135).
Gimpel s brings his own misery upon himself by failing to stand up for what he believes. Gimpel almost seems like he needs to believe what people tell him in order to survive (Fraustino 1). Gimpel does not even realize what truth is and how you can tell it apart from everything else (Fraustino 1). Whenever Gimpel does think that something is not true he refuses to say anything and instead keeps his mouth shut and causes himself another humiliating moment or problem in his life. One reason that Gimpel will not call out a lie is because of his heavy belief in the scripture that says it is better to be a fool all your days than for one hour to be evil (Sobeloff 4). Gimpel causes even more heartache and misery to himself by not confronting Elka about her unforgivable lies to him. He has a feeling that the child is not his, but he lets the Rabbi and Elka convince him otherwise with foolish reasoning (Singer 134). Gimpel even walks in to his own home one night after an accident at the bakery and catches Elka in his bed with another man and he still does not confront her about her lies. Gimpel says that Today it s you re wife you don t
believe; tomorrow it s God himself you won t take stock in. (Singer 137). Gimpel is scared to not believe his wife or any of the townspeople because he is afraid that it may lead to him being a skeptic about everything and even going as far as to question God and the scripture. The Rabbi told Gimpel that, belief in itself is beneficial. It is written that a good man lives by his faith , and Gimpel believed every word of it just as he did with everything else the rabbi told him (Singer 139). The truth is finally revealed to Gimpel whenever Elka is on her deathbed and almost all of his suspicions are confirmed to be true, yet he still comforts and praises Elka proving that he is still a coward and cannot change. Elka tells Gimpel, It was ugly how I deceived you all these years . . . I have to tell you that the children are not yours. And it bewilders him as if he never suspected such a thing (Singer 139). After hearing this, Gimpel feels that Elka s only meaning in life was to deceive him just like all the others (Singer 139).
After the death of Elka and the revealing of the truth about his marriage Gimpel starts to evaluate his life so far. He has a dream where the Spirit of Evil tells him that, the whole world deceives you, and you ought to deceive the world in your turn. (Singer 139). Gimpel follows the advice of the Spirit of Evil and urinates in the dough at his bakery in order to get a sense of revenge on the people of Frampol for deceiving him all of his life (Singer 140). Once again though, Gimpel could not go through with the act and buried the loaves of bread in the yard before anyone could get any. Gimpel goes home that night and informs the children that he is leaving Frampol and going out Into the world. (Singer 141). Gimpel had become so tired of the way things had been going for him that he decided to run and to search for a better life that he knew must exist somewhere. Gimpel still sees Elka in his dreams but instead of being angry with her still, he feels a sense of comfort and a longing to be with her. This proves that Gimpel has lost
touch with reality or has chosen to forget all of the lies and deceits that he suffered while married to her and that he only chooses to remember things the way he had wanted them to be.
Gimpel was driven from Frampol by his own cowardly behavior and the misery that he brought upon himself. Had Gimpel stood up for himself he may have been respected and turned his life around instead of running in search of a life that would never exist for someone like him. Gimpel s life was shaped and molded not only by the deceitful behavior of his wife and the people of Frampol, but also by his own inability to take action on his behalf.