May 21, 14
From Shadows and Symbols into the Truth
The literature Augustine’s Confessions, Gertrude Himmelfarb’s One Nation, Two Cultures, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, and T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men” can all be related to each other to expose the contradictions that afflict the human person by relating these works to Dante’s Inferno.
Augustine’s sins were very common sins in the fact that in today’s modern society, it would be considered normal to act in such a manor. The second circle of hell is for those who have fallen victim to their carnal desires. Augustine became consumed by lust in his pre-conversion days. His family wanted him to learn the art of persuasion and making of fine speech when he was sixteen years old. He used these skills and his charming looks to seduce as many women as he could. Augustine once said “in that sixteenth year of my life in this world, when the madness of lust . . . took complete control of me, and I surrendered to it” (Confessions, 987). Augustine had a hard time differentiating love and lust. His desires had overpowered his mind and soul for a good part of his life. During Augustine’s lifetime, he had a variety of mistresses. One of these mistresses he married because he didn’t want to wait for a year to have sex before getting married to his promised wife. The reason they weren’t married yet was because she had to reach the legal marrying age of twelve. Augustine spoke on behalf of this; “I was unable to bear the delay of two years which must pass before I was to get the girl I had asked for in marriage. In fact it was not really marriage that I wanted. I was simply a slave to lust. So I took another woman” (Confessions, 993). Placing Augustine’s soul in the fourth circle of hell is a tough decision. He was an opportunist, most of his life was spent attempting to gain as much as possible. Most people would say he only did this as a search of happiness. This would classify Augustine as a hoarder.
In Gertrude Himmelfarb’s One Nation, she talks about the counterculture of the 1960's. In her book she talks about how our culture has changed by promoting sex, drugs. She also talks about how we are letting this counterculture become the dominant culture of today. The culture of the 1950's had strong family values, a belief in good standards of truth, morality, and respect for religion and authority. These were the cornerstones of the national culture, but it has become so dissident. We now live in a society that is growing resistance to the Cultural ways we once abided by. This new Cultural Revolution is allowing people to be okay with the number of abortions, births out of wedlock, crimes, and death. Gertrude Himmelfarb’s One Nation could be compared to Dante’s Inferno, Canto number seven. The reason I have placed Gertrude Himmelfarb’s One Nation in canto seven is because abortion is violence against others.
Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is journey Aboard a British ship called the Nellie. There are three men accompanied by their captain Marlow. They journey into Africa as agents for a Belgian ivory trading firm. Along the way, they witnesses brutality and hate between colonizers and the native African people. They later become tangled in a power struggle within the Company. They later end up learning the truth about the mysterious Kurtz. Kurtz is a mad agent who has become both a god and a prisoner of the native Africans. After saving Kurtz from the native African people, Marlow watches in horror as Kurtz gives into madness, disease, and finally death. In the end, Marlow decides to support Kurtz rather than his company, which is definitely a bad move. The novel closes with Marlow's guilt-ridden visit to Kurtz's fiancée to return the man's personal letters. I would compare Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness to Dante’s inferno because I believe the contradiction sheds light on the...
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