The Third of May 1808 by Francisco Goya depicts the horrors of war, no doubt, but if we dig deeper in this image, we might find some other interesting themes in it. Goya himself was a liberal, who believed in the initial intentions of the French Revolution, but found himself in a hot spot when this noble revolution turned out to be as bloody as any other movement to seize power and grab the chair of honor, or the throne from the current man in the authority. Wasn’t that the intention of all revolutions in the history of humankind? At least wasn’t that what they all turned out to be in the end? Why is there a rapist to every revolution good people start? In every good revolution, there have been some people who act like crows, or eagles feeding on the dead body of any government falling. It doesn’t matter who they cheer for at the beginning as long as this rash fool is going to put them on the throne in the end.
There has never been an easier solution than to execute men in the times of war as if this were supposed to be understood, forgiven and forgotten at these times. How easy it is for a man to excuse himself to take the life of another man, and there is always the cause that acts like a cloth stuffed in free people’s mouths until they choke and die, or learn to become mute, forever. Who is a patriot and who is a traitor? Well, this philosophical question all depends on who is sitting on the throne at the moment. You can easily be a patriot today and be called a traitor tomorrow just due to a simple change in management. What glorious revolutions we have led in our ragged history! We might hope to find no one else in the universe to share our stories with, as it is hardly imaginable that worse species are living anywhere else.
Now down to business, let’s imagine our protagonist as a patriot who cheered at first for Napoleon for his glorious wars against tyranny until Napoleon himself became a tyrant. Our hero was ordered to take lives of people whom he hardly knew or understood the reason behind these mass executions. It was time for this hero to make a decision, and he turned against his French army and his idol Napoleon and joined a Spanish militia that was fighting against Napoleon. He had to face his friends and kin in battle and kill the ones he once loved. When would killing ever stop? Would it end with him killing himself, running away, or winning a fight or two? How would all this mess end, if ever?
Let’s take it from another perspective now and make our hero as a soldier who was just tired of fighting and that led him to desert the French Army. Using his good Spanish accent, our hero was able to blend in well in the Spanish society, in a place far away from the frontlines. He met a beautiful girl whom he fell in love with, and started a family. Many good days of peace passed with this man never doubting his decision of deserting the army, but war draws near the village he settled in, and he along with the other men in the community had to hold their ground and defend the village. One soldier from the small French battalion was captured and brought to the village. He recognized our hero and told him off. Now everybody started to think that the hero was a French spy, so they captured him and his fate now hung by a thread as the gallows were waiting for him. From here, it is up to you to let him escape, but to what end? Or die before they figure out he was just a deserter, but this one seems dull compared to the first idea. Just think of a way you would end this story, but you need to start writing it in the first place.
Now, what do you do?
Write a short story, or a poem about what you can discern from this painting and share a link to your story with us here on the website. You can be generous and share a link to this writing prompt on your website or your social media.