Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews February 28, 2024
February 21, 2024
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at email@example.com. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
What is the significance of Herod's smothering of the torches at the end of the play? Why does he retire from view?
In calling for the torches to be put out, Herod withdraws into darkness. The play prefigures this retirement a few scenes earlier, when he desperately implores Salomé to release him from his word and spare the prophet Jokanaan. Guiltily, Herod believes Salomé is punishing him for his incestuous look. Her "beauty has troubled him," and he has looked at her "too much." He resolves to withdraw from looking altogether, turning from both people and things. This withdrawal prefigures his disgusted retirement from the scene of the visible, where he puts out the palace torches and reduces the stage to darkness: "I will not look at things, I will not suffer things to look at me." Herod would have nothing to do with the economy of desire, the games of voyeurism and exhibitionism that structure the play. Strangely he then delivers the play's only "Wildean" epigraph: "Only in mirrors should one look, for mirrors do but show us masks." Instead of looking at things and being looked at, Herod would opt, hopelessly, for the fascinations of the mirror and masquerade. This escape is hopeless as the self's look in the mirror is of course hardly free of the game of looks between self and other.
What is the significance of Naaman, Herod's executioner? Why function does he serve in the play?
Though this "huge Negro" is a marginal figure at best, it is his very marginality that merits commentary. The silent and imposing Naaman is a stock figure of nineteenth-century Orientalist fantasy. Literally part of the background, he is vaguely animal-like, subject to bestial emotions (such as unreasoning fear), and perfectly carries out the will of others. As the emergence of his arm from the cistern suggests, he is but an instrument of death: as the soldiers remark, the king's insignia is the death sentence that legitimates and protects him. In particular, Naaman's skin figures strongly in the play's treatment of colors. Note in particular the violent contrast between his arm and the pale head of the prophet. The tableau stages a strange double castration, chopping off both the prophet's head and the executioner's arm. Naaman's black arm is literally reduced to a prop supporting the prophet's head and its ornate charger. On a stage where all bodies are liable to become art objects, it is not so much Naaman's "aestheticization" that marks his subordination but his relegation to the background. His is neither the terrible blackness of Jokanaan's eyes that stands against the gleaming whiteness of his body but blackness as prop.
Examine the relationship between the Syrian and the Page. What does it have to do with "looking"?
The Syrian and the Page open the play, appearing as two voyeurs. The former looks at the princess, and the latter looks at the moon, seeing therein a harbinger of death. As if sensing that the forbidden Salomé, like the moon, threatens death with both her look and as that which captures the Syrian's, the Page will continually warn him against looking at her too much. The play will then briefly elaborate the relationship of these two secondary voyeurs after the Syrian's suicide when the Page delivers a short eulogy. The Syrian's death is irrelevant to the drama of the figures that captured his gaze and "make" the play's spectacle, mourned only by the friend who warned him. The homoeroticism in their friendship is thinly veiled: the Syrian was the Page's "brother" and "nearer to [him] than a brother". For the Page, the Syrian's death comes not only from looking at Salomé, but from being looked at by the princess and moon. As he laments, he should have hidden the Syrian from the moon's deathly stare and removed him to a cavern out of sight. In his memories, the Page's "seduction" by the Syrian revolve around his voice—a "flute" that told him stories of his exotic land—and his gaze. Specifically this gaze was a narcissistic one: the Syrian loved to gaze at himself in the river, much to his friend's reproach. The Syrian's self-love seduces the Page: thus he sets himself to adorning him with agate, earrings, and perfume.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Salomé!