Who Is The Beguiler & ‘The Beguiled’?

Five young women of various ages, with their teacher in a small girls school, encounter a wounded soldier, who had since deserted the army. Struggling slightly at first, to decide if he ought to be saved or reported, they decided to discreetly nurse him back to health.

Fascinated by his presence, the ladies soon tried various subtly seductive ways to vie for his attention. Just as subtly towards each, unbeknownst to the others, he flirted in response for various advantages, offering surely false hope, with his lack of integrity obvious to the audience.

What happens next is expected – competition, jealousy, conflicts, fights… The microcosm of the once well-shielded boarding school was like a false paradise intruded upon by a tempter, who was nevertheless embraced, offering the biggest real-life lesson perhaps, about the real world.

The fix the characters were in was not the actual problem, as their tension and turmoil was due to how they personally responded, with their once dormant Three Poisons, of greed (i.e. lust and possessiveness here), hatred (of competitors) and delusion (of one another’s true intentions). 

If this was a true paradise made by a ‘perfect’ creator for all created beings, why was the potential to fall created? If impossible to not create this potential, why not protect all from temptation perfectly? With so many spanners ‘thrown’ in the ‘works’, how can there be a ‘perfect’ creator of this world?  

Yet, Pure Lands elsewhere have been created by Buddhas, with no expressions of the Three Poisons in name or form, only disabling, and never enabling workings of the poisons. Being true spiritual paradises open to us for entry, there are no causes, conditions and effects of evil there. 

To beguile is to charm or enchant, often deceptively. But who is the titular beguiled one? Or is there more than one? Each female character can be said to had been beguiled, while also the beguiler. The soldier too, as the first beguiler, was also beguiled when trapped by their obsession with him.

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