In the first chapter titled ‘Is Belief Wishful Thinking?’ Herbert McCabe throws light on the evolution of faith. According to McCabe, one of the lazy pretexts for religious belief is its comforting illusions. People have a tendency to want to believe in a fair and wise God who dispenses justice to all. But this is nothing more than wishful thinking. Yet, the validity of religious belief does not stand negated just because some of the faithful indulge in wishful thinking. Unlike scientific facts, religious beliefs have two components – fact and interpretation. So a combination of literal truth and metaphoric suggestion is at play in the system of beliefs that comprise a religion. In Christianity for example, “beliefs do entail certain simple factual historical beliefs, and in their case it is certainly possible to show what scientific evidence would count against them.” (p.2) McCabe cites the resurrection of Christ as an example of a belief that can be scientifically . . . Read More
Despite no authentic version of the play extant, Christopher Marlowe’s play Massacre at Paris continues to be of importance. The play is heavily drawn from real historical events happening in French politics at the time of it being written. The Massacre at Paris that was unleashed by the Third Duke of Guise upon all his suspected enemies is both brutal and real. Marlowe portrays Guise as a thorough Machiavellian character who is bent upon usurping power through any means. The killing of his father Francis when he was just 13 is a key event in the development of Guise’ personality. Facing this calamity at a tender age impresses in his mind the motivations for revenge. This would later transpire into a more generic blood and power lust. His immediate ascension to throne after his father’s premature death forced Guise to mature very fast. His chief nemesis would be Henry of Navarre, who is an able and imaginative administrator.
Marlowe devotes so much more . . . Read More
There is no doubt that Ahab is the most uncivilized and barbaric of the sailors. Although he is the captain of the ship and holds authority over the entire crew, his actions do not merit him respectability. The harpooners carry a tarnished image by virtue of their profession – they are obligated to massacre the whales. But Ahab’s livelihood is more of his own choice. He could easily have chosen a merchant’s life and look at fishing and hunting as merely commercial opportunities. Indeed, Ahab was reminded of this saner and safer option by his lieutenants in the Pequod. But his vanity is too big for such humbling decisions. Even before the grand ship set sail, Ahab was deep in his ambition of killing Moby Dick the white whale. His battle cry is full of vehemence and bloodlust, as his final moments spent fighting the giant beast clearly reveal: “Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from . . . Read More
The white whale Moby Dick can be looked at as a metaphor or an illusion. It is true that Ahab’s pursuit of it is real and the whale’s sightings by other ships equally honest. But the highly exceptional skin colour for a whale is a deliberate literary device employed by the author. What Melville is trying to convey is the ultimate futility and folly of Ahab’s stated mission. Though Moby Dick the white whale is real and its history well documented within the fiction, its very existence is highly improbable. Zoological knowledge concurs that white whales are very rare and elusive. This fact of nature throws light on the precarious and absurd mission of Ahab’s revenge. Not only is he hunting a dangerous beast of the wild oceans, but spotting and getting near it is highly dicey. Just as ancient myths are events that are plausible yet never true, Ahab’s mission is theoretically possible but is never likely to succeed. It is in this respect that myth is expressed in . . . Read More
Henry Louis Gates Jr. makes a cogent case for pluralism in the American cultural context. In the American academia of today the formation of curricula is largely dependent on the ethnic composition of the enrolled students. This implies that courses that come under the purview of liberal arts are seldom offered in colleges with a high ethnic/racial diversity. Gates Jr. sees this practice as discriminatory and divisive. He alerts us to how “political representation has been confused with ‘representation’ of various ethnic identities in the curriculum”. (214) Hereby, instead of real diversity in the classroom, what we have is notional diversity of perspectives in the course content. The effect of this trend is one of promoting a concocted common American identity where none such exists. Political conservatives have tried to justify this practice by citing fears of ‘tribalism’ and ‘fragmentation’ in society. But considering that plurality is at the very core of American . . . Read More
Plato’s Republic is one of the most influential works on political theory. The book is rich in logical deliberations and thought experiments in its endeavor to identify the ideal form of government for any society. Some of the ideas and theories articulated in the work include ‘theory of forms’, ‘definition of philosopher’, ‘immortality of the soul’, ‘metaphor of the sun’, ‘role of poetry in society’, ‘allegory of the cave’, etc. Of these, the most commented and profound idea is the ‘allegory of the cave’ that is presented in Book VII of the Republic.
The ‘allegory of the cave’ is a richly allusive and multiple layered illustration of the value, nature and consequence of knowledge. Though Plato is the author of the book, his role is one of committing to text the conversation between his mentor Socrates and his brother Glaucon. Socrates equates the darkness intrinsic to a cave to ignorance. To the contrary, the shining light is . . . Read More
1. In sum, what is the Williams thesis? What is his main point and central argument?
Eric Williams is an important black intellectual who witnessed, documented and analyzed African slavery in America firsthand. His main argument is that multiple factors were behind the origins of Negro slavery. The powerful papacy of the Roman Catholic Church, in collusion with powerful European Kingdoms of Spain, Portugal, and later Britain and France, permitted the practice of slavery. Since African Negroes were not of Christian faith, they were deemed infidels by the Catholic Church along with Muslims, Pagans and the rest. Williams contends that economic exploitation went hand in hand with religious dogma in perpetrating slavery. Theories of white racial supremacy were another source of this hideous institution.
2. The Williams thesis critiques which interpretations of the origins of plantation slavery? In other words, which other explanations of the origins . . . Read More
Jorge Luis Borges is famous for his short stories. The Gospel According to Mark is an allegorical take on the time-worn story of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It excels in all the essential features of good short fiction. In particular, as this essay will argue, its theme, symbolisms, tone and style showcase the Borges’ mastery of the form. These elements unite and complement one another to produce a cohesive and powerful piece of fiction.
The most powerful element in The Gospel is its theme. The writer draws upon an ancient and codified biblical theme of sacrifice. Just as Jesus Christ sacrificed his life for the salvation of his fellow brethren so does Espinosa end up being crucified. But in Espinosa’s case it was involuntary and much to his shock. This deviation from the original story comes to define the short story, for by transposing an eternal religious myth upon a real-life situation it questions the significance and meaning of the original . . . Read More
The poem Driving Into The Wreck by Adrienne Rich is full of symbolisms. The very notion of performing deep sea diving in order to explore the colossal wreck of an ancient ship is symbolic of how the author is treating the subject of past. At her hand is the book of myths, which is full of misinformation. The diver’s task is then one of dispelling these myths by diving into the deep sea to find the truth. In other words, through her own first-hand experience and observation, the diver seeks to understand what is real from what is make-believe. The poem strongly lends itself to a feminist interpretation due to numerous markers found in it. For example, the diver is first identified as a woman. Also, ships are attributed the feminine gender. The ship-wreck, thus, symbolizes all women of past who got submerged in a male-dominated society and culture. The following lines reveal this symbolism: “the thing I came for: / the wreck and not the story of the . . . Read More
The story chosen for this essay is Kate Chopin’s Story of an Hour. It a compact yet dramatically powerful short story, located in the milieu of 19th century American South. The protagonist of the story is Louise Mallard, a woman somewhat trapped in an unfulfilling marriage to Mr. Brently Mallard. Louise is diagnosed with a heart condition, making her vulnerable to sudden tragic news and events. It is in this context that the news of the demise of her husband in a railroad accident is gently revealed to her by her brother in law. (Chopin, par.2) The immediate emotions experienced by Louise were natural. She feels sorrow, loss and feels shattered. Her sobbing reflects her emotions. This much is expected behavior from a bereaved wife. But Chopin’s statement on the nature of the institution of marriage unravels in the second half of the short story.
As Louise lay sunken in the large arm chair facing her window, her mood undergoes a change. Form one of remorse and . . . Read More