Representations of Purity and Impurity in The Virgin Spring

A major theme in The Virgin Spring is purity and impurity. This theme is represented through two characters, Karin and Ingeri. Karin and Ingeri are complete opposites and their differences are enhanced through different elements of the movie so that the viewer can see the theme of purity clearly. Some elements of the movie that enhance their differences include their clothing, personalities, physical appearance,and  how they are seen by others.


Karin is representative of purity. She is young, beautiful and a virgin. Her virginity is important to the plot and it is played up by elements of the film. She has blond hair, clear skin and looks very youthful. She is loved by everyone and can manipulate her mother into getting what she wants. She is allowed to sleep in because she was out late dancing with boys the night before and she manipulates her mother into letting her choose her own clothes to bring the candles to church. Karin decides to wear a fancy dress and skirt with her nice pearl shoes and a cape. She is dressed mostly in blue, which is representative of the blue garb worn by the Virgin Mary. The other color in her outfit is yellow, which is bright and youthful. Karin’s appearance is extremely important to emphasize because the film is in black and white. She is a very happy girl and very optimistic. She invites Ingeri, the servant girl, to come to the church with her since she doesn’t get to leave the farm very often. Even though Karin seems sweet and happy, her naivety is dangerous. Naivety is a common characteristic of the “virgin” character and of the “pure”. She believes that no harm will be done to her if she shares her lunch with strange men. However, it is her naivety that places her in a very dangerous situation. A situation where she ultimately loses her purity and virginity.




In contrast to Karin and her representation of purity is Ingeri. Ingeri represents impurity and she is extremely contrasted with Karin. Ingeri is a servant girl who is pregnant and unwed, a major sin at the time. She is dirty and wears rags for clothes. She has messy, drab, dirty brown hair which is the polar opposite of Karin’s beautiful, sleek blond hair. Ingeri is very cynical and dismal. She is snotty and can be quite mean. She is very unhappy and isn’t afraid to show it. She goes with Karin to bring the candles to the church and on the way Karin and Ingeri talk about honor. Karin says that she will never be pregnant and unwed. Ingeri’s response is “what if you are pulled behind the bushes and forced?” Karin continues to say, “I’ll fight him off”. Ingeri replies “but he is stronger than you”. This conversation between them foreshadows later events where Karin is faced with rape. Ingeri’s appearance, like Karin’s, is amplified so that viewers are made aware of the importance of purity and impurity since it is so critical to the story.




The representations of purity and impurity in Karin and Ingeri respectively, are extremely important to over emphasize. Since the film is in black and white, the general appearance and personalities of each character becomes important for emphasizing the theme of purity. The ways in which Karin and Ingeri were made to contrast each other makes it easy for viewers to understand the importance of purity and the loss of purity in the film.


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