Modernism God, the World, and Literature: The Term Paper

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God, the World, and Literature: The Concept of Social Morality in Modern Literature

Literature, as the primary source of information of people in witnessing and experiencing realities interpreted by the author/writer, is more than a medium that extends messages of reality and experience. Literature is, first and foremost, an expression of thoughts and ideologies that may or may not be agreed upon by the author or his/her characters in the said work. The concept of social morality is such example of these ideologies extended thru literary works. Through literature, writers are able to provide people with varying themes related to the discussion of social morality, offering people avenues wherein morality can be created and developed by the society, and adapted by the individual.

Modern literature boasts itself of this kinds of art -- literary works that depict the life of individuals who were directly affected by their own or their society's strong concept of morality. More often, morality is culture-bound, as is shown in the case of Chinua Achebe's novel, Things Fall Apart or even religious in meaning per se, like W.B. Yeats' The Second Coming. However, some writers also posit that morality stems from within the self, as is expressed in the poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. Or, morality may be developed from the dynamic encounter between the individual and society, as readers witness in the short story, The
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Guest by Albert Camus. These various interpretations of morality are captured in the said literary works, and make up the essence of how social morality is expressed and experienced among peoples of different cultures and societies.

Morality is the standard of proper conduct deemed appropriate by the society. Through this definition, it is evident that society plays a vital role in determining which acts and behavior are moral or not. Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart is a perfect example of how social morality is reinforced by the prevailing group within society. In the novel, social morality is primarily determined by the males, with the guidance of goddesses (female gods). The Umuofia tribe in Africa is a predominantly male society, where males are the leaders and chief members of society, and women relegated only to roles of being wives and child-bearers to their husband. Because of the patriarchal society of Umuofia, morality in this sense is considered a double standard: any form of disobedience by women should be considered an immoral act or behavior, while disobedience from males should first be given due process before being branded as an 'immoral' act/behavior or not.

Another interesting depiction of morality in the novel is the gender biased descriptions of "male" and "female" crimes, where the latter is a form of crime where lenient punishments are given to offenders, while male crimes are considered serious and heinous crimes, thus,…

Sources Used in Documents:


Achebe, C. Things Fall Apart. New York: First Anchor Books, 1994.

Camus, A. The Guest. Available at

Eliot, T.S. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. Available at

Yeats, W.B. The Second Coming. Available at

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