Thursday, May 14, 2009

Jacob's Ladder

I've brought up Jacob's Ladder on this blog a few times before, because the imagery of it is so prominent on Lost. In Genesis, after Jacob deceives his brother Esau, he flees to the desert, where he wrestles with an angel. He then falls asleep, and has a dream of a ladder that extends from the Earth to Heaven, and angels are ascending and descending the ladder. Jacob lies at the bottom of the ladder, asleep, and God is at the top. Here is the passage from Genesis:

Jacob left Beersheba, and went toward Haran. He came to the place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, "I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your descendants; and your descendants shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and by you and your descendants shall all the families of the earth bless themselves. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done that of which I have spoken to you." Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the Lord is in this place; and I did not know it." And he was afraid, and said, "This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."

I first talked about Jacob's Ladder after season 3's "Further Instructions," because when Locke goes into the tent and has his Boone-accompanied hallucination, there is a mise-en-scene of Locke in his wheelchair at the base of the escalators that looks a lot like Jacob's Ladder:

In this scene, Locke is at the bottom, like Jacob. We don't see any angels ascending or descending, but in the scenes before it, we'd seen people travelling up and down the escalator in the background. Locke falls out of his wheelchair and ascends the escalator with a lot of effort, and ends up at the top.

Later, in the season 4 episode, "Cabin Fever," we get the image again, after Abaddon has taken Locke from his physio appointment and is wheeling him back to his room. He leaves him at the top of the stairs for a moment, and we get the switched mise-en-scene:

Now Locke is at the top, in the position of God, and the only place to go is down, to the Earth. So it's interesting that years later, Locke's body is being used for Esau's long con, in an effort to kill Jacob. Locke found himself in the position of the biblical Jacob, then the biblical God, and now he's neither. Has he descended to Heaven (or to Hell) after death?

You can comment on the Jacob's Ladder material below, or go check out my fuller post on "The Incident" here.


Benny said...

Interesting. I don't think there's enough of all this to put forward the importance of Jacob's ladder in the grand scheme of Lost (yet), but the parallels are certainly interesting.

One thing I'd like to point out is, when you mentioned Locke was first in the position of Jacob and then God, this is actually how WE (the viewers) see it. But could it be that the relevant order would be chronological as well?

Meaning he was first at the top (as a God figure) and then was brought down. Since the elevator is a vision, this could signify that Locke has work to do to regain his position he once had in the grand scheme of things, Abbadon certainly held him in high regards already when Locke was in the hospital.

So, what exactly would have brought him down then? The crash to the island perhaps? His actions while ON the island? When he stopped believing in the all mighty button? His attempts to re-climb the ladder may have ultimately failed and Maybesau taking his place, playing the old trick on Jacob that Jacob had played on their father.

Just thinking, as we all like to do!

Shoop said...

Nikki, you're awesome! And so are your books, I can't wait for season five!

Have you seen The Gospel of John, starring a certain Henry Ian Cusick as Jesus? I've never read the bible, so everything in the movie is new to me, but I found myself particularly taken with the story of Jacob and the well he built. It wasn't addressed enough in the movie and I couldn't pinpoint any information online about the symbolism of the well, what it stood for Jacob and for his descendents.

Sorry if this has been addressed before, it can be difficult to keep up with all of the topics.

Another topic that may have been brought up, but relates to your post, I think the character of Bram will be significant. Since it is likely his name is a nickname for Abraham, is he Jacob's father?

Nikki Stafford said...

Benny: I disagree; I think they've touched on it once a season almost from the beginning, whether in imagery or in words.

But good thoughts about it being reversed! I think you're right. He was at the top, and then went to the bottom.

Shoop: I have seen The Gospel of John! I saw it before Lost, so I didn't know HIC as Desmond yet. It was definitely an interesting take on the gospel (especially being word for word and all).

I love the idea of Bram being related. Especially because for most of the story, Abraham's name is Abram (and it's how I usually refer to him in my books). Nice catch!!

Benny said...

I hadn't noticed it in all seasons. In that case it certainly gives it some importance. Either just as an allusion or an analogy for something that's happening directly to Locke.

Shoop said...

Actually, now that I think about it, I think your books led me to think of Abram as a shortening for Abraham and it was an easy connection to Bram from there.

I've only watched the first half of the movie, I'm mainly watching it for the Desmond eye candy (I bought it because he was in it and to learn more about the story of John and its connections to Lost). It's funny though, seeing the movie after I only knew HIC as Desmond, how much of a Scottish accent Jesus had!

Nikki Stafford said...

LOL! I think he liked a nip of McCutcheon now and again, too. Heehee....