Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Thus Spoke Zarathustra Summary and Analysis of Part 1, Speeches 12-22

On the Flies of the Market Place

Zarathustra returns to the marketplace, the place where he encountered the tight-rope walker in the prologue. This time he is speaking to a disciple. After finishing his speech on the modern state, Zarathustra turns his attention to the marketplace, the place where ideas are exchanged. He begins to categorize the people of the market. He tells the disciple that what counts in a place such as this is showmanship. He says that there are great men, those who can attract a crowd and passionately express their opinions and ideas. These powerful people, the best showmen, are the politicians and intellectuals. They know best how to attract a crowd and to dominate the exchange of ideas. Zarathustra calls those who serve these powerful people the flies of the market. But, at the end of his teaching, Zarathustra shows the disciple that constantly being immersed in the marketplace is not the way to ascend. The exchange of ideas can only come to fruition when a person retreats into solitude to let the ideas come to light. Solitude is more necessary and noble than the market.

On Chastity

After encouraging his disciples to seek solitude, Zarathustra addresses chastity, a kind of solitude. Here, Zarathustra begins to explain the teachings that he began in previous sections. In the prologue, Zarathustra outlined his view that the body should experience pleasure and pain through the self. Here, Zarathustra shows that he is not advocating a hedonistic lifestyle in which a person can give into any desire. Zarathustra's true project is to have his followers channel their desires into spiritual desire that will help them ascend to the state of overman. For Zarathustra, not all are suited for chastity. For many, chastity only causes one to burn inside with lust and sensuality, desires that will eventually destroy a person. Chastity is a desirable state, but Zarathustra echoes the apostle Paul when he says that a person is better to marry than to burn with lust.


On the Friend

In this speech, Zarathustra speaks of friendship that is desirable to one that would be his disciple. Zarathustra says that friendship should inspire envy between friends, each friend urging the other through jealously to ascend to a higher level of enlightenment. For Zarathustra, all friendship must have this utility or it is a worthless relationship.

If a man sees excellence or flaws in his friends, Zarathustra teaches that he should seek solitude in order to reflect on how to attain the same excellence and how to overcome the same flaws in himself. In solitude, Zarathustra's disciples gain a spirit of victory, a spirit that leads them towards enlightenment.

On the Thousand Goals and One

In this speech, Zarathustra tells of his great travels. He has seen many cultures and civilizations and has found that all of them define goods and evils within them. However, these goods and evils are never the same. One culture might view as good what another culture views as evil, and vice versa. A culture finds worth in overcoming great difficulties. A culture identifies its highest need, its greatest difficulty, and when that thing is overcome, a culture calls it holy.

Zarathustra teaches his disciples that all great meaning is created by humans. Humanity creates laws and ideas to overcome the difficulties it faces in society. A person is first a creator who assigns value to things. Only second is the person an individual. People, Zarathustra teaches, value the community over the ego, which proves that humanity has not reached its highest goal. Zarathustra says that there have been a thousand different cultures and a thousand different goals, but the overman, the thousand and first goal of humanity, is the ultimate goal.

On Love of the Neighbor

Zarathustra turns the lessons of the great prophets on their heads. Should people love their neighbors? Zarathustra answers no; a person should love himself more than he loves his neighbor. Until a person truly recognizes the sacred nature of his individuality, he will not become the overman. Zarathustra claims that people love their neighbors because they want someone to think highly of them. Loving one's neighbor is actually a selfish thing, but people don't think of it this way. For Zarathustra, the desire to reach the goal of overman should be greater than the desire to love one's neighbor. Instead of finding a neighbor, Zarathustra encourages his disciples to find a friend to compete with for enlightenment.

On the Way of the Creator

Zarathustra has now begun to create the kind of disciple that will follow his teachings and strive to attain the level of overman. To achieve this goal, his disciples must go into solitude, as mentioned before. This speech tells a disciple what to expect when he does venture into that solitude. Zarathustra tells his disciples that even though they are leaving the conventions of the world, they will still carry the voice of the "herd" with them. This voice will make them feel guilty for going their own way, but once the disciples overcome this guilt, they will be free to dictate their own rules and laws for themselves. The "herd" will disapprove of this, but it is a necessary step on the way to the overman.

Zarathustra tells the disciple that the one who goes into solitude - the one who begins to ascend to the overman - will be the one that the "herd" will hate the most. Zarathustra himself discovers this after his encounter with the masses in the market. Zarathustra tells his disciple that if he wants to be a star, he "must shine through for them all the more!" Zarathustra warns that the one in solitude will meet many enemies, but the worst enemy will always be the self. The self will want to go back to the "herd" and will try to sabotage the ascension.

On Little Women Old and Young

This speech opens with someone taunting Zarathustra, asking him why he sneaks around as if he is concealing something beneath his coat. Zarathustra answers that he is concealing something: a great truth that threatens to cry out. He tells the mocker that he met an old woman on the road that day, and the old woman wanted Zarathustra to speak to her about women. Zarathustra replied that he should only speak to men about women (implying that he can only teach men of the deceit of women) but he consented to talk to the old woman anyway.

Zarathustra tells the old woman that a woman's only role is to be pregnant. He calls man a warrior and woman a warrior's "dangerous plaything." The woman should be for the man's pleasure and nothing more. A man, Zarathustra says, is childish and needs a plaything. This is the role that a woman can fill. A woman's greatest challenge is to be the one that can give birth to an overman.

Zarathustra then changes the tone of the teaching to show what a woman's love is meant to do. A woman should give, sacrificially, to a man. Her love should be a wonderful - yet fearful - thing for a man. He should play with her love, yet also be afraid of it. When a woman gives such love, she becomes obedient to her husband and thus fulfills her true desires. A man's desires are deep and strong, according to Zarathustra, and a woman can only intuit such desires.

The old woman, a sly character, tells Zarathustra that his teachings are good, even though he has so little contact with women. This is meant to be a playful taunt. Acknowledging that Zarathustra's teaching is for young women, not old women, the old woman then goes to give Zarathustra's teaching to the young women of the town.

On the Adder's Bite

Zarathustra falls asleep under a fig tree and an adder appears and bites him on the neck. Zarathustra is awakened by the bite and stares into the snake's eyes. The snake tries to get away, but Zarathustra catches him and thanks him for the bite. The adder replies that his bite can kill a man, but Zarathustra tells the snake that his bite could not kill "a dragon." Zarathustra tells the snake to take back his poison, and the snake licks the wound clean.

Zarathustra's disciples ask what the point of this story is. Zarathustra begins to explain what their relationship to others should be. Zarathustra's teachings are a refutation of the New Testament's imperative to do good. Instead, Zarathustra tells his disciples that a person should give others what they deserve. Zarathustra does not try to do good to the snake that bites him. Instead, since the snake knows that Zarathustra should kill him, Zarathustra forces the snake to clean his wound.

In Zarathustra's world, taking revenge is more humane than not taking revenge. If a person does wrong to another person, that person should return the wrong. This is the kind of justice administered by the overman. The "good" of the world might not agree with such a teaching, but Zarathustra says that those who subscribe to such concepts of good and evil are condemned anyway.

On Child and Marriage

Zarathustra begins speaking to a disciple who is about to get married. Zarathustra asks the young man if he has the "right" to get married. He tells the young man that many men seek marriage and children out of unworthy desires: neediness, loneliness, or animal cravings for sex or companionship. Instead, a man should want a wife and children as monuments to his enlightenment. He should want children so that he can raise them to attain the state of overman. Zarathustra is not opposed to children or marriage, but without the correct motivation, these can be weights on a man's soul.

Zarathustra teaches that many men go forth to look for a wife, but instead fall prey to their own lust and animal desires. This is how a man gets into a bad marriage where the woman controls him or the relationship between the two is a burdensome one. The correct love between a man and a woman is one in which both seek a higher existence and an enlightenment. A man should want most of all to attain the state of overman, and his wife and children should only be aides in that journey.

On Free Death

Zarathustra teaches that one should "die at the right time." He says that everyone sees dying as an important event, but people should not celebrate death. Death will only be an important event - an event to be celebrated - when a person's death becomes a "goad and a promise to the living" to become the overman. The correct way for a person to die is to die by giving hope and promise of the overman to those around him. The second best way for a person to die, Zarathustra teaches, is to die fighting.

Zarathustra then outlines different kinds of people and the different ways they will die. Some will live too long and become too old for their truths. Some are like apples that only become ripe in the fall; they are sour until later in life, but then become ripe for the truth of Zarathustra's teachings. Some will never find truth, and Zarathustra tells these people that they should wish for their own deaths.

Zarathustra laments that the preachers of the day only preach for a "slow death" and not for the right kind of death. He laments that Jesus died too young, brought about by the evil with which he surrounded himself. Jesus, Zarathustra says, would have "learned to live and to love the earth" if he had only stayed in the desert and not come amongst other people. Zarathustra predicts that his own death will be a wonderful occasion because his disciples around him will carry on his teachings of the overman. In a way, Zarathustra is not following his own teaching. He could have died earlier, but now, he says, the joy of expecting that his disciples will carry on the ideal of the overman makes his lingering on earth worthwhile.

On the Bestowing Virtue

The time has come for Zarathustra to leave The Motley Cow, and he and his disciples walk out of town. As they are walking, Zarathustra tells them that he wants to walk alone. His disciples give him a staff on which he can lean as a present. Zarathustra is very pleased with the present and he gives them a teaching.

He compares their search for the overman to the mining of gold. Gold, he tells them, is valuable because it is uncommon. Their virtue is the same way. It is an uncommon virtue for a man to seek to ascend to the level of overman, but because it is uncommon it will soon become very valuable. Soon, men's souls will strive for the "treasures and gems" of the overman. This is selfishness, but it is a good selfishness that Zarathustra calls holy. It is a good selfishness because, although Zarathustra and his disciples take these virtues for themselves, they do so in hope of bringing the overman to the rest of mankind.

There is another selfishness as well: a sick selfishness. This is a selfishness that takes for itself but has no desire to help mankind. This selfishness does not care if others ascend to the overman. A person who looks through history will be able to see signs of these two kinds of selfishness and must be able to see the underlying passions for good and evil. Zarathustra is a man who can read such signs. He points his disciples to the path to ascension.

Zarathustra then teaches his disciples that they should devote their attention to the earth, to spreading the good news of the overman. He tells them that humanity is a mistake, an error. Because of this mistake, madness has overcome men throughout history. Zarathustra gives his disciples the teaching that will help humanity ascend to the overman. Like physicians, Zarathustra's disciples should keep themselves healthy while also working towards the health of other people. This part of the teaching ends with an enthusiastic declaration that the earth can recover and that humanity can be redeemed through the overman.

Zarathustra ends this speech by telling his disciples that he is leaving them and that they should leave him as well. They should go away and even be ashamed of Zarathustra, in case he was misleading them with his teaching. He puts a twist on the New Testament teaching by telling them that a person of knowledge must be able to love his enemies and hate his friends. Zarathustra tells them this in case they have begun to idolize him instead of his quest for enlightenment. He wants them to focus on themselves. Their own attempts at becoming the overman are more important than Zarathustra himself. When they have truly ascended, Zarathustra will meet up with them again. They will all meet again, he tells them, to proclaim that "Dead are all gods: now we want the overman to live."