Elie Wiesel’s the Trial of God represents the age-old question: how can a righteous God allow evil and suffering? Written as a play based on a real event, Wiesel tries to capture the myriad of emotions and theological arguments that were present. Though the trial, in Wiesel’s play, takes place during the seventeenth-century many cultural aspects overlap with twentieth-century Europe and World War II. Similarities between Wiesel’s fictional world and his life experience involve events such as violent actions against the Jewish community. The events of Elie Wiesel’s life heavily influenced the creation of his play the Trial of God.
To many in the United States and Europe, World War II is an icon that represents unimaginable turmoil and tragedy. The hardships brought about by World War II raises the theodicy question of how a righteous God could allow the Nazi’s to reign. Elie Wiesel was one of the many Jews who were persecuted during this period of history. When he was fifteen years of age, Wiesel was a prisoner in the infamous Aushwitz concentration camp (Brown vii). In an introduction to the trial of god, writer Robert Brown takes note of what Wiesel witnessed.
Once night the teacher took Wiesel back to his own barracks, and there... three great Jewish scholars, master of Talmund, Halakhah, and Jewish jurisprudence put God on trial... Witnesses were heard, evidence was gathered, conclusions were drawn, all of which issued a unanimous verdict: the Lord... was found guilty of crimes against creation... (vii)
The events experienced in Auschwitz by Wiesel would influence him to write about this moment. Though Wiesel had difficulty expressing the trial that he experienced, he discovered that formatting the event into a play was a plausible solution. This play influenced by the Jewish holiday of Purim would shape some literary elements in the Trial of God (Brown vii). Elie Wiesel’s the Trial of God is a play that is separated into three different acts that covers the developing storyline. The play takes place in the year 1649 in the city of Shamogrod, Ukraine.
The first act of the trial of god lays the foundation for Wiesel to introduce main characters and the starting place for the mock trial. Three minstrels have stumbled upon an inn wishing to celebrate Purim eve (a Jewish liturgical holiday). The minstrels are served food and drink, but when asked to pay they admit to having no money. The innkeeper (Berish) becomes enraged from being taken advantaged of. Though in return the three minstrels offer compensation by providing entertainment or a play of sorts. Berish wishes that the minstrel perform a play, but one that does not mention God (Wiesel 24-26).
Soon the minstrels are given a topic for their play by Berish, “You want to perform in honor of Purim? Good, let’s stage a trial! Against whom?... Against the Master of the Universe” (Wiesel 55)! At this point of the play Wiesel has created possible outcomes for the conclusion...