The Power and the Glory

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John Nejman
October 4, 1999
The Power and Glory writing assignment
"The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak".(Matthew 26:41) These words of Jesus are thematic in both the novel, The Power and the Glory, by Graham Greene, and the poem, "Batter my heart, three-personed God", by John Donne. Both the whiskey priest and the speaker of the poem are involved in a battle between their sinful flesh and their spirit, which seeks the Divine. They also admit their sin and commit themselves to God. In both the novel and the poem, the authors use similar paradoxes to describe the character's relationship with God while the search for holiness takes each on a different path. The speaker and the whiskey priest describe themselves as sinners, yielding to temptation. The speaker of the poem says, "But I am betrothed unto your enemy"(ln.10), showing the speaker is subdued by the devil. The priest, a drunkard with a child, thinks of himself as a transgressor and a disgrace to the Church. While in the prison, the priest says to the pious woman, "But I'm a bad priest…I know from experience-how much beauty Satan carried down with him when he fell."(p.130) When he is arrested the priest says to a soldier, "You mustn't think they are like me…It's just that I'm a bad priest."(p.191). In addition to recognizing their betrayal of God, they believe that a sacred life is the ultimate victory. The speaker confesses, "Yet dearly I love you and would be loved fain."(ln.9) The priest also desires to love God above all, "He knew now at the end there was only one thing that counted – to be a saint."(p.210) However, each character pursues the Divine in a different way. Even though the whiskey priest perceives himself as a sinner, his way of life resembles the good of the Holy Spirit. The priest resembles Jesus in many places in the novel. The prison scene is very much like the Last Supper, when Jesus said to his apostles that one of them would betray him. The...
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