Last Updated on June 8, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 497
The Prophet is a book of fables published in 1923. It is one of the most translated books in history and has never gone out of print.
Due to the fact that The Prophet is a book of fables, it contains many significant themes. Some of these themes include love, marriage, children, giving, eating and drinking, work, joy and sorrow, buying and selling, crime and punishment, laws, freedom, reason and passion, pain, self-knowledge, teaching, friendship, talking, time, good and evil, prayer, pleasure, beauty, religion, and death.
The book also contains a number of religious themes. Kahlil Gibran was born a Maronite but also pulled heavily from Islam, Sufi mysticism, and the Bahá'i faith. Gibran promotes the idea of religious unity and coexistence, which stems heavily from his Lebanese background. Lebanon had seen so much bloodshed over religious strife that Gibran formed a strong belief in peace between different religions. This results in a heavy focus on spirituality over organized religion and finding common ground over emphasizing differences.
Overall, The Prophet focuses heavily on the interconnected nature of humanity. Beyond religion, the book posits that one's children are not one's own, but belong to "Life's longing for itself" instead. Human beings are themselves but also worth much beyond themselves. Gibran also notes the important connection between humanity and nature. The book explores this relationship as though the earth were another person or sentient entity.
Following One's Heart
Another important theme is following one's heart. Gibran famously writes,
When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And When his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And When he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden. . . .
But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter,
and weep, but not all of your tears . . .
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
In general, The Prophet encourages its readers to connect with their own spirituality, each other, and nature. The Prophet instructs its readers to love freely and be true to their desires, which should focus on connecting with life rather than material possessions. The story recognizes the ups and downs of living like this and acknowledges the impermanence of both positive and negative experiences and emotions. It also acknowledges that feeling on both ends of the spectrum is an important and undeniable part of life.