In Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop, the heroic ideal whose definition began with Moby-Dick is again viewed. Father LaTour is clearly seen as having an elevated status, concern and understanding for the people, and a desire to make a lasting mark on the land that becomes his home. These characteristics were seen in differing ways in both Ahab and Jo in Little Women. In The Red Badge of Courage, the concept of courage in the hero was addressed. This quality too is seen in Father LaTour. Father Vaillant also displays many of these characteristics. Both priests are fully consecrated, they just live it out differently. They have committed themselves to self-sacrifice for the sake of those whom they seek to serve and exhibit strong inner courage in the setting aside of self. However, Father Vaillant’s very presence has hinged upon the influence of Father LaTour in his life, thus ultimately pointing back to Father LaTour s the heroic figure in the novel.
“The new Vicar must be a young man, of strong constitution, full of zeal, and above all, intelligent. He will have to deal with savagery and ignorance, with dissolute priests and political intrigue. He must be a man to whom order is necessary–as dear as life” (Cather 8). With this opening description, Cather introduces the caliber of man to be found in Father LaTour. When he discovers the juniper tree in the shape of a cross, his immediate response is one of grateful worship. He is described as “. . . a priest in a thousand . . . . His bowed head was not that of an ordinary man . . .” (Cather 18).
Father LaTour’s role as a leader is found partly in his position in the church, but it is validated b…
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… the opportunity comes, he recognizes that intellect is not everything and that his life’s fulfillment is in his serving until death among his Mexican and Indian populace. The country thought in the Prologue to drain him of his youth (p. 8), becomes in the end the source of life for him. Father LaTour lives what he preaches. This makes it possible for him to say he shall die from having lived (Cather 267).
Father LaTour assumes his role of leadership, impacts the lives of those he encounters, displays great courage, and above all is self-sacrificing. He does not hope for personal gain in his actions. Ultimately, Father LaTour exhibits many heroic characteristics in an unassuming manner that leads to the addition of this quality to the working definition of the heroic.
Cather, Willa. Death Comes for the Archbishop. NY: Vintage Books, 1990.
Free Hamlet Essays: Teaching Deception and Selfishness in Hamlet
Teaching Deception and Selfishness in Hamlet
The Tragedy of Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, illustrates the disintegration of not only a family but a society. In a play riddled with greed, manipulation and dishonesty, the end result is the demise of all the main characters. ?It is clear that the theme of vengeance is merely a vehicle used by Shakespeare in order to articulate…themes central to humanity: relationships between father and son, mother and son, and Hamlet and his friends…youth and age? (Introduction to Hamlet). The children are not at fault for their parents? mistakes. Since youth learn often through observation of the adults around them, society today is hyper-aware of the ?example? that it sets for the future generation; in
Denmark during Hamlet?s time period, there was little consideration for the moral structure of the future leaders of the country. Through the conceit of the adults in Hamlet, there are moral repercussions for themselves and the youth of Elsinore, who are unable to bear the burden of the adults? mistakes.
The adults at the forefront of the play are Claudius, Hamlet?s uncle/stepfather;
Gertrude, his mother and Claudius? new wife; and Polonius, counsel to the King and father of Ophelia and Laertes.
Claudius is smug at the onset of the play because he appears to have gotten away with killing King Hamlet, Gertrude?s late husband and Hamlet?s father, in order to ascertain the King?s title and woo Gertrude. He has committed selfish and murderous acts that, in the belief of the time, would damn his soul. In fact, in one soliloquy in Act III, scene III, he admits to himself that he feels no remorse for what he has done, saying, ?But,
O, what form of prayer can serve my turn…I am still possessed of those effects for which I did the murder _ my crown, mine own ambition, and my queen? (lines 54-58). The deception that Claudius has commited puts the responsibility of avenging his father?s death on young Hamlet, something that he proves unable to accomplish until the very end of the play, despite several attempts to muster the courage. Claudius also turns Hamlet?s own friends against him by attempting to utilize Guildenstern and Rosencrantz as spies.
Polonius, counsel to the King, is a manipulative character intent on winning the
King?s approval. His solutions to the problems surrounding the royal family involve spying and lying as means to achieve an end. This is evident in Act III, scene I, lines 49-51, when
Polonius instructs Ophelia on how to behave while he and the King are spying on Hamlet.