By Portraying the Three Main Character’s as Representations of Science, Art and Religion, Mcewan Creates the Central Conflicts That Make the Novel so Successful, How Far Do You Agree with This Statement?

Topics: Truth, Religion, Love Pages: 7 (2471 words) Published: December 11, 2012
Science can be defined as ‘a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths that have been systematically arranged’.

Religion can be defined as ‘a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices..... involving ritual and devotional observances’

Art can be defined as ‘ the expression of human creative skill and imagination’

The central theme in Enduring love, is that of love; a expression so formidable and irresistible that it withholds the capability to bridge the gap of perception between those who viewpoints or outlooks regarding the world are diametrically opposite; this being Clarissa, Parry and Joe who all represent the views of Art, Science and Religion in the novel. However, in relation to love, love only bridges these differences, it does not alter any differences that the characters have (due to their opposing views) in relation to their perspective. Throughout the novel, it seems that each of the characters mentioned are unable to fully share each other's perceptions regarding the nature of love; due to the core beliefs of Science, Art and Religion that they hold. This ultimately causes the central conflict in the novel. However, although the character’s core beliefs lead to conflict, it can also be argued that conflict in the novel arises from the characters forming there own truths; an example being when Joe’s refusal to tell Clarissa about Jed’s initial phone call. Furthermore although the characters have polar opposite opinion, before the introduction of Parry, they were sharing a goal, a common perspective - however with the introduction of Parry it can further be argued that conflict arises due to the workings of Jed Parry - who unleashes the once tamed underlying conflicts between Joe and Clarissa.

Although the characteristics of Art and Science are diametrically opposed, the conflict which arises in the novel due to these differences are discreet, yet at the same time obvious. This conflict arises between the two main protagonists in the novel, between Science and Art, between Joe and Clarissa. Joe is a man of Science who has inherited an overriding need to establish facts and rational thought. His use of language further reflects this. In many of the expressions he uses to describe events in the novel he uses the language of mathematics and physics to rationalize the incidents that occur. “mathematical grace” and “comforting geometry”. These two terms are based on mathematical imagery which can be viewed as an objective truth, one which is definite and can be for sure. The use of the term “comforting” suggests that maths and logic provide Joe with a sense of security, a sense of purpose. Joe throughout the novel uses this “comforting geometry” to form his infrastructure of the world and it’s events and when this concept is challenged throughout the novel, conflict ensues.

Joe’s rationality is further evident in the letter he writes to Clarissa describing his love for her. “sincerity would permit me the facts”. Joe’s attempts at defining his love systematically through the term “permit me the facts” suggests that Joe is emotionally detached - which is also evident in his description of John Logan’s death in Chapter 1 of “the closing down of neural and biochemical exchanges”. The use of the terms “neural” and “biochemical” agin infers a tone of wisdom and intellect - the constant repetition of terms such as these reinforces Joe’s emphasis on logical reasoning in the novel.

Clarissa's characterization is the polar opposite compared to Joe’s - Clarissa establishes truths which are subjective and therefore differently from Joe, these truths are irrational, based on emotions and empathetic traits which are ultimately understanding. During the fall of Logan, Clarissa uses literary imagery to describe the ongoing events of “ hurl’d headlong flaming from the Ethereal Sky” whereas Joe uses the imagery of science - “little stick figure followed..... like a drop of viscous...
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