Unlike most cautionary tales, Pandora’s box doesn’t end on a downer. Yes, Pandora’s curiosity got the better of her, and yes, she released all the evils of the world, but despite the horrors she unleashed, the parable ends with mankind gaining the Spirit of Hope.
And that’s precisely how you feel at the end. Hopeful. It’s an emotional onomatopoeia. This, of course, doesn’t change the fact that opening the box was by any objective measurement a shitty thing to do. If Pandora had a do over, she would be a fool not to exercise it, even at the risk of losing hope. Which, if you think about it, is hardly a risk at all. In a utopia, hope is an unthinkable concept. If you have everything, there’s no need to worry about anything. In a just and moral universe, you don’t hope for the best, you get what you deserve.
Hope isn’t a cure for the evils of the world. It’s a symptom.
Melea Entius believes the Divines have a plan for Henrietta. It’s how she makes sense of her impending death and the loss of Indara’s daughter. It’s the only explanation that will suffice, because the alternative – that the world can be a cruel and unjust place – would mean she could never die in peace.
When it comes to Henrietta’s future, Melea doesn’t cling to hope. Not when she has faith.
Unlike hope, faith isn’t a byproduct of despair. If you believe in a divine, infallible architect, what you’re saying is that the “evils of the world” are more or less intended as opposed to an accident. It could be a test of one’s character or resolve, or something so abstruse we can’t comprehend the reasons. Regardless, the belief is that whatever the methodology, those who abide by the plan will be rewarded. Fulfilling one’s hopes is often about taking control. Maintaining one’s faith is about sacrificing it.
This is conflicting for Melea. Her anxiety has shifted from being separated from her daughter in a physical sense – which she now accepts – to losing her identity as Henrietta’s mother. As the years pass on, it’s possible the young child may not remember much of her biological parents. It may even be the will of the Divines that she forget. While Melea knows giving the child away is the right thing to do, she realizes that the more influential Indara is, the less Henrietta will remember her, and struggles with the notion that these feelings are inherently selfish.
Melea has faith that Indara will be a good mother – but in thirty years, will Henrietta feel the same about her biological one? She can only hope.