Religion in the Literary Works Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Machiavelli shared Douglass' opinion concerning the role of religion in one's society. He believed that religion is instrumental in bringing about not only a moral society, but also a just one. In his discourse, "The Prince," he asserted that the ideal leader, the Prince, must not "...deceive without faith, without mercy, without religion..." This invoked the belief that a leader, in order to become effective, efficient, and respected by the civil society, must also be of moral character. This means that in the same way as people let their lives be influenced by religion and its values and beliefs, so too must the Prince engage in a lifestyle dominated by religion. A religious individual is a moral individual, hence commanding the respect of his people and giving him credibility to lead over society.

However, it is also vital to note that while he put premium to religiosity, Machiavelli's characterization of the Prince as a religious man was just one of the many facets that make up an ideal leader. More than anything else, he considered the intellect of the Prince as the ultimate determinant of one's effectiveness, efficiency, and credibility as a leader. Like Douglass, Machiavelli cited religion for its good qualities (i.e., ability to induce values and desirable behavior from people) but downplays its advantages (society's tendency to become conservative, rigid, and unilateral thinking and judgment).

Hemingway and Sophocles, meanwhile, depicted a different picture of religion's influence to people's lives. In both authors' works, religion had been a detriment that led to Antigone's style='color:#000;text-decoration: underline!important;' target='_blank' href='' rel="follow">death ("Antigone") and Henry's suffering during and after the war ("A farewell to arms").

In "Antigone," Sophocles used Antigone's character as the embodiment of humanity's downfall as a result of its strong belief in religion. Antigone's offense of insisting to steal and bury the body of her brother Polyneice was a decision greatly influenced by the religious belief that her brother should receive a burial even if this is against the law. Her defiance was supported by her belief that "I owe a longer allegiance to the dead than to the living...But if thou wilt, be guilty of dishonouring laws which the gods have stablished in honour." Evidently, Antigone's staunch belief of honoring the dead had led to great suffering as she was imprisoned and later put to death for the conduct of the said offense.

Hemingway's "A farewell to arms" is another literary work that displayed how religion brought about the weakness of humanity, which was its tendency to feel strongly for a belief regardless of the fact that an action or behavior guided by this belief could result to suffering, or worse, death. Henry's character was one such example of the individual who strongly believed in the war he participated in, that his sudden decision to leave it haunted him, risking not only his own happiness, but his lover Catherine's happiness as well. Religious beliefs also prevented Henry and Catherine from marrying and thereby hindering their happiness, mainly because Catherine was pregnant with a child, thus forbidding her to engage in a sacred ritual as marriage.

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