Chapter 24: Persuasive Speaking Goal: reach desired ends through an honest means I. Persuasion ‘the art’ –faculty of observing in a given case the available means of persuasion. Persuasion is….
Bohemian Rhapsody Lyrics Meaning
Wow. I had no idea there were so many interpretations of this song. For me it’s always been clear: the song is about an execution. Please bear with me as I construct a detailed argument for this interpretation. Here’s the set-up (all of this is proven later): The narrator has committed murder. He might have done this out of malice, or self-defense, or anything in between; we don’t know. The fact is that he killed someone, was caught and sentenced, and is now on Death Row. The man is not an important person, so to speak. He is not famous, nor rich, nor anything of the kind.
He has no high-priced lawyers and no “connections” to help him in his plight. The narrator implies that, if he had higher social status, if he had money or fame or whatever, then he would stand a good chance of escaping death. But alas, he is merely a “poor boy” (aka ordinary person), and has no such power. His family and friends are attending the execution (or have otherwise heard about it), and are very distressed. Conversely, the family and friends of the dead man want revenge and they can’t wait to see the narrator executed.
The song takes place just prior to the execution, and involves the narrator talking to (or perhaps just thinking about) his mother, just before he dies. If you’re still reading, you have my thanks. Here’s the line-by-line analysis: *We start with the narrator’s thoughts: “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? ” *The narrator is overwhelmed by the idea that he’s going to die. He almost wonders whether this is all a nightmare or something. “Caught in a landslide, No escape from reality” Again, he feels overwhelmed, but he can’t really deny that he’s about to be killed. Open your eyes, Look up to the skies and see,” Looking up to heaven, wondering about life etc. “I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy Because I’m easy come, easy go, Little high, little low” Here he is quoting the common perspective: he’s just a poor man (“boy”), and he doesn’t deserve sympathy. Much of the song is about how no one seems to care for the narrator, even though he seems mournful and regretful for his actions. “Any way the wind blows doesn’t really matter to me, to me” Now that he’s going to die, nothing more matters. He has no future, no hopes or dreams or goals.
He’s going to die within the hour, and there’s nothing he can do about it. He feels very hopeless, and from his perspective nothing really matters. “Mama, just killed a man, Put a gun against his head Pulled my trigger, now he’s dead” This part is obvious. He committed murder. I don’t he’s confessing to his mother here, as surely she would already know by the time of the execution. I think that he’s really just sadly reflecting on what he’s done, and he mentions this to his mother (or perhaps he’s just thinking about her) “Mama, life had just begun
But now I’ve gone and thrown it all away” He was a young man, in his 20s perhaps. He had the chance to live a meaningful life, but instead he killed a man, thus causing his own death via execution. The narrator laments, noting that he could have saved his own life by choosing not to murder. But now the deed is done, and the narrator will face justice. “Mama, ooh, Didn’t mean to make you cry If I’m not back again this time tomorrow carry on, carry on as if nothing really matters” Again he’s sorry for his actions, and regrets that his mother now weeps for him, as he will soon be killed.
The execution will take place within the hour, so if he’s not back again this time tomorrow, it will mean that the execution happened on schedule, that he failed to escape it via pardon or other means. The narrator tells his mother that, even if he dies, she should carry on living, almost as if his death didn’t matter to her. “Too late, my time has come” The execution is imminent. “Sends shivers down my spine, body’s aching all the time” These are symptoms of his intense fear. “Goodbye, ev’rybody, I’ve got to go” He says a final farewell to his family and friends. Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth” The truth is that he killed a man, and now he faces strict justice. He will die. “Mama, ooh, I don’t want to die I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all” This much is obvious. He doesn’t want to be killed, and indeed he wonders if it would have been better never to have been born in the first place. A new voice starts singing; this voice represents his friends and family who are (or have been previously) protesting his execution. “I see a little silhouetto of a man” The narrator seems so poor and pitiful, “a shadow of what he once was”, so to speak Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango” Honestly, I don’t know what this means “Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very fright’ning me” Both he and them are afraid that he’ll be killed. The “lighting” part might indicate that he’s to be killed with the electric chair, or it might just be symbolic. “(Galileo. ) Galileo. (Galileo. ) Galileo, Galileo figaro” Galileo was unfairly persecuted by the authorities of his time. Granted, Galileo didn’t commit murder, but the narrator’s advocates still draw a parallel, insisting that he doesn’t deserve the punishment he’s receiving. “Magnifico.
I’m just a poor boy and nobody loves me” The narrator repeats the common belief. “He’s just a poor boy from a poor family Spare him his life from this monstrosity” His friends and family argue that, because he’s a poor boy, he deserves sympathy and compassion, not death. “Easy come, easy go, will you let me go” Here the narrator pleads for his life. He basically says “You don’t seem to care about me; I’m ‘easy come, easy go’. You don’t really care if I live or die. So, if you don’t really care whether I live or die, can’t you just let me live? Can’t you grant me a pardon or something? ”
Then the opposite group, the friends and family of the dead man (and/or the execution authorities) respond to these pleas. “Bismillah! No, we will not let you go” The other group wants the narrator to be executed. “(Let him go! ) Bismillah! We will not let you go (Let him go! ) Bismillah! We will not let you go (Let me go. ) Will not let you go (Let me go. ) Will not let you go. (Let me go. ) Ah No, no, no, no, no, no, no. ” The two groups have a spirited argument. “(Oh mama mia, mama mia. ) Mama mia, let me go” Here the chorus of friends and family says “let me go”, but I really think they mean “let him go.
Don’t kill the narrator” “Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me, for me” Beelzebub means Satan. The narrator feels (or speculates) that Satan is out to torment him by leading him to such a sad fate. After all, it was probably a devil that tempted him to commit murder in the first place. Likewise, his family feels Satan is tormenting them as well, by killing the narrator to make them feel sad. Perhaps even the dead man’s family joins in on this chorus; they feel that it was Satan who told the narrator to commit murder in the first place, and now they insist that execution is the only holy esponse to such a sin. Throughout this, the narrator has been lethargic and morose. But right before the end, he has a sudden burst of passion. “So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye? So you think you can love me and leave me to die? Oh, baby, can’t do this to me, baby Just gotta get out, just gotta get right outta here! ” I’m not sure if he’s talking to anyone specific here, or if he’s just ranting with passion, screaming at everyone and everything involved. As I imagine it, the narrator throws off his guards and fights to escape from his shackles.
In the ensuing musical piece, he struggles with the executioners, knocking the room into disarray. The two families watch closely, but everyone knows it’s a useless struggle; there’s simply no way for the narrator to escape. And the end of the musical piece, he is beaten down and finally subdued. Once again he become morose and dispirited, and the executioners drag him to his place of death (electric chair, perhaps). In his last few moments before death, the narrator resumes his previous state of mind. Nothing really matters, Anyone can see Nothing really matters Nothing really matters to me” Again, because he’s about to die, nothing really matters to him. He has no purpose, no hope, nothing. “Any way the wind blows… ” This is an allusion to the begining of the song, where this image was used along with “nothing really matters” So… yeah. I think that’s a pretty thorough interpretation. Bohemian Rhapsody is about a remorseful murderer as he’s about to be executed. Questions? Comments? Did anybody even read all that?