Timshel; meaning “thou mayest”, holds a significant role in East of Eden. It shows that anyone can desire to surmount vile in their hearts and create morality within them self. In the novel, Steinbeck portrays the significance of timshel through the introduction of free will, the internal conflict of Caleb, and the blessing of Adam.Steinbeck portrays the significance of timshel through the introduction of free will, which plays an important role in the theme of Cain and Abel and provides the interpretation of Steinbeck. Timshel is brought in by Lee who is the servant of the Trask family and discussed by both Samuel Hamilton, and Adam Trask. In chapter 24 Lee discusses the idea of timshel by showing the different interpretations of it through various translations, in the Hebrew translation it says “thou mayest rule over sin” which gives man a choice to fight through their sin and overcome it (302). Thus, “the translation of timshel into “thou mayest” enables the release of the energy in every human being “(Schultz). Timshel helps us not only understand the choices of human beings, but it shows that “Steinbeck constructs his fiction around the theory that timshel should be translated to thou mayest…he tells us about his own philosophy from the use of the Bible” (Warren). Steinbeck uses timshel as a way to let out his own philosophy about humans from using the Bible. This introduction of timshel through Lee becomes a very important part of the story as well as a theme; by this Steinbeck conveys his ideas and thoughts on a man’s destiny. Timshel then becomes a big part of the story which alters the plot of the Cain and Abel story by offering free will. Steinbeck interprets timshel as one of the most important things in the story an…
…mmunity” (Schultz).Works CitedPrice, Michael. “Champion of the Common Man: John Steinbeck and His Achievement.” Bloom’s Literature. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 8 Apr. 2014.Pugh, Scott. “Horrifying Conclusions: Making Sense of Endings in Steinbeck’s Fiction.”Steinbeck Review 3.1 (2007): 69-83. Print.
Schultz, Jeffrey, and Luchen Li. “East of Eden.” Bloom’s Literature. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 8
Apr. 2014.Steinbeck, John. East of Eden. 1952. New York: Penguin, 2002. Print.
Steinbeck, John. Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters. 1969. New York: Penguin, 1990. 108-09. Print.
Strecker, Geralyn. “East of Eden.” Masterplots, Fourth Edition. Ed. W. Mazzeno Laurence, 4th ed. Salem Press, 2010.Salem Literature Web. 08 Apr. 2014.
Warren French, John Steinbeck 1975. Twayne’s United States Authors Series Online New York: G. K. Hall & Co., 1999.