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The Use of Religious Beliefs in Oedipus and The Stranger

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Introduction

The Use of Religious Beliefs in Oedipus and The Stranger Religion often plays an important role in works of literature. The methods through which religious themes are included may be complex, but ultimately, it is the opinion of the author that is expressed. This is the case when concerning Sophocles's Greek play Oedipus and Camus's The Stranger. Both authors use the same methods - the inclusions of their protagonists' rejection of a higher power and their anger in the presence of religious figures - to present opposite opinions on the value of religion in their societies. In a cultural setting where there are rising numbers of people ignoring the power of the gods, Sophocles encourages people to succumb to their will. On the other hand, Camus, in an atmosphere of Catholicism, brings up the possibility of social oppression through religion. In Oedipus, Oedipus rejects the power of the gods, and believes that he can overcome their will. When he travels to Delphi to hear the truth of his fate, Apollo shows him that he is doomed to murder his father and sleep with his mother. ...read more.

Middle

His reference to Meursault as "Monsieur Antichrist" (p.71) is a further sign of his apprehension towards him. After the chaplain meets with Meursault, he also believes that "[his] heart is blind" (p.120). Although the methods that Sophocles and Camus use are alike, the reasons for which they use them are quite opposite. While Sophocles upholds the value of religion, Camus denounces it. Religion has very little to do with Meursault's murder case, yet the magistrate and the chaplain focus on it more than the case. The fact that Meursault is atheist should be irrelevant, but the religious society surrounding him grasps it and uses it as one of the reasons to sentence him to death. Unless one conforms to society's beliefs, one is labeled as an outsider. Camus therefore portrays the unforgiving oppression that society inflicts through religion, and thus he wishes readers to see its value denounced. However, this is not the only method that Sophocles and Camus both use to reach different goals. They also include their protagonists' anger in the presence of religious figures in order to fulfill their respective purposes. ...read more.

Conclusion

He is thus portrayed as the opposite of a wise old man - he is a man that will do anything in order to force his views onto another person. The chaplain also seems to be unable to accept that Meursault does not harbor the same religious beliefs as him. He "refuse[s] to believe [him]" (p.119) when he learns that Meursault's beliefs are different to his own. Therefore, where Oedipus's arrogance can be translated into his oppression of society's religious beliefs, the magistrate and chaplain's arrogance can be translated into their oppression of an individual that does not conform to society's religious beliefs. Thus, the two authors both use the same methods - the inclusions of their protagonists' rejection of society's religious beliefs and their anger in the presence of religious figures - in order to effectively present their individual opinions of the value of religion in their societies. Sophocles, in a society where people are turning away from the power of the gods, upholds the value of religion. Camus, in a society of imposing Catholicism, denounces its value. Religion therefore plays an important role in Oedipus and The Stranger - the authors' opposite opinions have undoubtedly made it possible for new opinions to be derived. ...read more.

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