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Free Grapes of Wrath Essays: Religion in The Grapes of Wrath

Religion in The Grapes of Wrath

In The Grapes of Wrath the author, John Steinbeck, presents religion in several ways including the fanaticism of the Sin Watchers, Jim Casy’s parallel character to Jesus Christ, and through the use of symbolism throughout the novel. Through these methods, Steinbeck weaves a web in which religion is presented as a double-edged blade; one can go to the path of being truly a devout, kind person, or one can choose the path of zealously, condemning all who would oppose or go against their views.

The Sin Watchers represent the epitome of religious zeal. They force their ideals upon others, and they point out the sinful ways of their fellow camp-mates. These people Steinbeck presents as evil aberrations who disrupt the otherwise peaceful life at the government camp. The most viewed Sin Watcher was the woman who berated Rose Of Sharon for her “sinful” ways. This horrid woman told Rose Of Sharon that because of the hug-dancing and other fun activities, the baby would be stillborn. Sadly, the baby was born dead, but not necessarily due to Rose Of Sharon’s activities. This woman instilled in Rose Of Sharon the idea that it was her fault that the baby did not survive.

Jim Casy’s actions bore a close resemblance to the actions of Jesus Christ. In the time the book was published, this was viewed as an act of blasphemy. As discussed in class, many of the acts, trials, and tribulations of Jim Casy (along with the ominous JC initials) parallel those of Jesus. Jim Casy represents the epitome of personal reverence, despite his renunciation of preaching.

Throughout The Grapes of Wrath, religious symbols crop up, further explaining the significance of the section. One use of symbolism is that when on the road to California, Tom encounters a snake. Already established in the novel is the fact that to the Goads, California represents a place of great wealth, freedom, and prosperity. It is a Garden of Eden, so to speak. The Garden of Eden had a serpent who brought the Wrath of God upon Adam and Eve. The serpent supplied them with the forbidden fruit. California is forbidden to outsiders and migrants.

Comparing Henry IV and King Lear

Comparing Henry IV and King Lear

Shakespeare’s play, King Lear details the tragic consequences of the decisions of the fictitious character Lear, King of England. King Lear is a man of great power but he surrenders all of this power to his daughters as a reward for their demonstration of love towards him. Lear’s rash decision results in a chain reaction of events that send him through a journey of hell. King Lear is a metaphorical description of one man’s journey through hell in order to expiate his sin.

As the play opens one can almost immediately see that Lear begins to make mistakes that will eventually result in his downfall. (Neher) This is the first and most significant of the many sins that he makes in this play. By abdicating his throne to fuel his ego he is disrupts the great chain of being which states that the King must not challenge the position that God has given him. This undermining of God’s authority results in chaos that tears apart Lear’s world. (Williams) Leaving him, in the end, with nothing. Following this Lear begins to banish those around him that genuinely care for him as at this stage he cannot see beyond the mask that the evil wear. He banishes Kent, a loyal servant to Lear, and his youngest and previously most loved daughter Cordelia. (Nixon) This results in Lear surrounding himself with people who only wish to use him which leaves him very vulnerable attack. This is precisely what happens and it is through this that he discovers his wrongs and amends them.

Following the committing of his sins, Lear becomes abandoned and estranged from his kingdom which causes him to loose sanity. While lost in his grief and self-pity the fool is introduced to guide Lear back to the sane world and to help find the lear that was ounce lost behind a hundred Knights but now is out in the open and scared like a little child. (Bradley) The fact that Lear has now been pushed out from behind his Knights is dramatically represented by him actually being out on the lawns of his castle. The terrified little child that is now unsheltered is dramatically portrayed by Lear’s sudden insanity and his rage and anger is seen through the thunderous weather that is being experienced. All of this contributes to the suffering of Lear due to the gross sins that he has committed.

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