Gilligan's Island

Jan, 8, 2001

The island is a direct representation of HELL. Nobody on the island wants to be there, yet none are able to leave. Each one of the characters represents one of the 7 deadly sins: 

Ginger represents LUST - she wears skimpy outfits, is obsessed with her looks, and is a borderline nymphomaniac. 

Mary Ann represents ENVY - she is jealous of Ginger's beauty. 

The Professor represents PRIDE - he is an annoying know-it-all. 

Mr. Howell represents GREED - no explanation needed. 

Mrs. Howell represents SLOTH - she has never lifted a finger to help on any of their escape plans. 

The Skipper represents two sins: GLUTTONY - no explanation needed; and ANGER - he violently hits Gilligan on each show. 

This leaves Gilligan. Gilligan is the person who put them there. He prevents them from leaving by foiling all of their escape plots. Also, it is HIS Island. 

Therefore, Gilligan is SATAN. 

Crazy? He does wear red in every episode. 

Les Rogers 

Response: You are absolutely right that the castaways embody a version of the seven deadly sins. Here is my list: Mr. Howell - greed and exploitation; Mrs. Howell - frivolousness; Gilligan - impetuousness; Ginger - vanity; the Skipper - gluttony; and the Professor - eggheadism. I don't know what Mary Ann represents - the blandness of the girl next door? As the only normal one, maybe this is her nightmare.

Interesting that the island can be interpreted as Hell and paradise (see the next letter).

July 20, 2000

As much as I enjoyed your philosophical critique on the show, I will make this short and simple... I believe you missed the point on the meaning of the "exile" of the castaways on Gilligan's Island. You compare their story to Genesis, meaning that they have been barred by their own fault from paradise, when in fact this is not the case. The only true fault of this crew is that they fail to appreciate the simple joy that they have found on the isle away from society's worries and curses. You see, they spend so much time obsessed with trying to get back, that they don't realize that they have been surrounded by true paradise all along... 

-Eric Zaklukiewicz

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April 16, 1999 

I enjoyed the parable site. I think, as with a lot of simply begun ideas, that Gilligan's Island began as a foray into someone's discombobulated mind. In this case, Sherwood Schwarz. For some reason, the simpler the  idea, the more complex the reasoning behind  it. I've heard that each Gilligan character  is a representation of the 7 deadly sins, of  course of the parable connection too, and  apparently there have been some deep psychological studies done on it as well. A  television show. A sitcom, at that. Do you think for a moment that it was meant to go this far? Can you imagine something like this EVER happening to "Full House"? 

It's amusing to watch just how many people get bent out of shape over the implications behind someone's idea gone awry. I guess some people just don't have enough to do and need to dissect television shows. Then, there are people like me, who sit in wait for these shows to get dissected so we can dissect the dissectors. 

All in fun, no seriousness aside.
Greta Ballard

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August 19, 1999

How perceptive of you to hone in on the semantic/psychological/spiritual
significance of GI.

There had to be some reason why all these years this stupid show has
been resonating in the psyche of mankind, and you have focused the
perception in such a manner that illuminates beyond the wisdom of TV
Guide. Not a trivial feat as it seems...

Sherwood Schwartz has always maintained he created a show to mirror the
archetypes of society. But no one before you has been able to crack the
code of SS's high-minded mythological basis and its blatant low-brow

Exile from the Garden of Eden? The desire to be saved?
You are so on-target, it's almost frightening to think what a cultural
force GI truly is...

James O'Grady

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September 16, 1998

The simplicity and innocence of Gilligan's Island, raped and dissected
by bored intellectuals with nothing better to do... what a shame. I
would loathe living in a world where every cultural artifact had to meet
the standards of profundity and significance set by pompous academics...
what a sterile, joyless, and nightmarish vision of pretentiousness and
posturing !!! The wonder of a child's' uncomplicated mind, the beauty of
a simple nonsensical joke, all this passes entirely over the cynical
gasping verbosity of those who seek to prove their superiority. Not that
you haven't proved exactly that, that's not my point. I grant you
genius, if you wish. Of COURSE Gilligan's' Island was shallow and
inane... intentionally so...must everything be otherwise ? I agree with
the Tao/Cheeseburger comment of the above writer, although I feel quite
differently about the show on a personal level, as it constitutes a
major part of my most treasured childhood memories, along with,
(OH-MY-GOD!), Star Trek. When the carnage, chaos, and corruption of
Planet Earth 1998 gets to be tooooooo dreary and nihilistic, I pop in a
cassette of the castaways, and for a while, life is sweet. Finally, to
quote from an interview of J.R.R Tolkien: " I dislike allegory whenever
I smell it. No metaphors were intended, nor should be construed, from
this tale. I simply wanted to tell a ripping good yarn, and that I have

Kurt "koala" Gearheart

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Oct. 1, 1997

Either this is some kind of highly elaborate joke, poking fun at academia, or else I've found paradise. At the risk of becoming the butt of the joke (if that's what it is), I must admit that this site contains exactly the type of writing and scholarship I've been looking for. Bravo! I just received my MFA in stage directing, and I hesitated to enter a Ph.D. program because so many seem like embalming chambers. I have a great desire to examine programs in popular studies. Would you know of any? This is exactly the kind of scholarship I'd like to look into doing, for better or worse. can you offer me any assistance? I'd be most grateful.
I enjoyed the Gilliganian essay, however, I'll disagree with you on the lack of appeal the show holds for adults. I feel that the show is pure commedia, and that the questionable depth of the characters actually makes them even more endearing and familiar. The lack of specific, 3-D personalities gives them a greater universality. I am personally drawn to the comfortably iconic nature of the characters, and the cosmic inevitability of the plots hits home every time. Just as prisoners can identify with Beckett's protagonists (enigmatic characters, certainly, but they hardly have a Horton Foote-level of dimension), so can many of my friends and I identify with the denizens of GI. In fact, I'll go out on a limb and say that Schwartz outdid Beckett. What would you rather watch, every afternoon for three years? See what I mean?
Anyway, if you know where this kind of scholarship is taking place, please drop me a line. Great site!

Patrick McCray

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Subject: your lame attempt at philosophy

July 11, 1997

Trying to explain the philosophy of Gilligan's Island is a waste of time. it was a dumb, predictable comedy that made me sick. Trying to describe Gilligan's Island intelligently is like trying to describe the tao of a cheeseburger.

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Nietzsche warned us that as we stare into the abyss, so the abyss stares into us. In the same way, as we watched the seemingly mindless syndicated show, we were being exposed to a brilliant rendering of existentialist doctrine.
Gilligan and his comrades were tantalized by the prospect of the paradise of mainland. Mainland in this case, clearly stands for man's search for eternal life in Heaven. It is well understood by the audience that the island prisoners will never arrive at this mythical place. Not by Science, as personified by the Professor, who with limited resources can accomplish anything except deliverance to the promised land. Not by Wealth, as personified by the Howells, nor by beauty and art ( Ginger), nor by being a good person ( Mary Ann ), nor pragmatism and industry ( the Skipper ).
We identify with Gilligan, the everyman who finds no salvation in the attempts of these beneficent social forces. Indeed, he is often a victim of their attempts to bridge the gaps between here and the hereafter. When we find him attacked by sharks or falling from the sky in some ill-fated attempt to escape the island, we understand Heidegger's claim that we are cursed with freedom. It is no coincidence that the theme of an inability to reach God is prevalent in each episode. For example, when an attempt is made to spell SOS with burning logs, in order to reach Astronauts in a capsule flying overhead ( representing the height of man's science at the time ), Gilligan accidentally reorders the sign to spell SOL, thus becoming a burnt offering to the Roman sun god "Sol", principal deity in a religion that was once at the core of the mightiest empire the world has ever known, but also a religion that has long ago lost its last follower and any relevance. It is a symbol of the vain and fleeting nature of man's efforts to connect to something greater than himself.
The other overriding themes center around the loss of self and the inexorable proposition of non-existence. The prospect of annihilation into the abyss of quicksand is ever present. So complete is this form of destruction that nothing is left of the victim, not even clothing or bones, unless they have a hat which serves as an impromptu grave marker.
Sartre's well known quote, "L'enfer est l'autre." that can be translated as either "Hell is other people" or "Hell is the other." is manifest as the "people" on the "other" side of the island. These cannibals consume their victim's flesh, just as other people subsume their victim's identity.
The ultimate absurdist humor is derived from the fact the show is still being broadcast to new generations, as it probably always will, as long as the medium of broadcast television is available. In this way, the creators have devised the most accurate working model of Nietzsche's theory of eternal recurrence.


July 30, 1999
After too many years as Maynard Krebs in the Dobie Gillis show (which lasted too long), Bob Denver's portrayal of Gilligan and many strange, unrealistic scripts added to his bankroll but added nothing to sitcoms or comedy.  It was pithy when new.  The reruns were unwatchable.

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After reading your article on Gilligan's Island I began to think to myself that there were some things that were pretty far fetched. For instance, why did Ginger and the Howell's have all of those fancy outfits for someone going on a 3 hour tour? Secondly, as many years spent on the island, how did Gilligan's red shirt stay so new and so nicely pressed? Speaking of which, why did they even give Gilligan critical responsibilities as it related to rescue efforts. I mean given all of his other daily blunders, would someone have thought far enough in advanced to put the professor or the skipper in charge? And why didn't the Skipper keep an emergency life raft or vests on his boat? Did it take more than 30 years to figure out why all the people died on the titanic?

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