Study Guide

Book of Esther Allusions

Allusions

Literary and Philosophical References

Jean Racine, Esther
Jean Racine was considered the master of French tragedy in his day (the seventeenth-century day, that is). However, his play about Esther isn't all that tragic. After all, Esther wins the day and everything. (The play was originally written to be educational. It was performed for students at a school for upper-class girls, encouraging them to emulate Esther's model.)

Debra Sparks, Good for the Jews
This award-winning book takes the story of Esther and—altering it significantly—changes the setting to modern day Madison, Wisconsin. There's apparently lots of stuff in here that wasn't in the original Esther—it features more sex scenes, suicide, and high school intrigue than the original (which featured… er, none of those things).

Lucrezia Tornabuoni 

An important member of the uber-powerful Medici family in sixteenth-century Florence, Tornabuoni was also a poet who often wrote about biblical heroines like Esther and Judith. You can read more about her in this article.

Pop Culture References

Recount
In this HBO movie about the Florida recount in the 2000 Bush v. Gore election, Florida's former secretary of state, Katherine Harris (played by Laura Dern) compares herself to Esther at one point, stating that she's helping to save Florida's Jews by getting the election to run in Bush's favor (the dialogue isn't meant to be historically accurate—it's imaginary, for the record).

The Royal Tenenbaums
The Royal Tenenbaums has absolutely nothing to do with the Book of Esther. But one of the kids in the movie does have a pet hawk named Mordecai. In a semi-famous scene, The Beatles' "Hey Jude" plays as Mordecai sails into the air, enjoying a freedom unattainable by the movie's damaged characters. Check out the action here.

Veggie Tales: Esther, The Girl who Became Queen

In this veggie version of the Esther story (an episode from the Veggie Tales Christian TV series), Haman isn't going to kill the Jews—but he does want to send them to the "Island of Perpetual Tickling." (And Vashti gets thrown out for refusing to make the king a midnight sandwich). It has the same message as the Book of Esther (having courage to do what's right), but it tones down the subject matter to make it appropriate for kids.