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In What Ways May the Lieutenant and the Priest be Compared and Differentiated in Part One of the Novel.

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Introduction

In What Ways May the Lieutenant and the Priest be Compared and Differentiated in Part One of the Novel. Greene has created two fascinating and complex characters. The first part of the novel revolves, most of the time, around these two characters. The whisky priest and the lieutenant may seem to be opposite characters but they share many characteristics which makes the relationship between these two main figures an uncommon and complicated one. In this essay I shall explore the differences and the contrasts between these two characters. The main factor which unites the characters of the whisky priest and the lieutenant is that both characters are dominated by their ideals, that is, both characters not only are willing to die for their ideals, but they are also willing to live solely to fulfill them. The lieutenant believes that he must eliminate the church in order to create a better world. He has very strong motives, these have undoubtedly emerged from his past: "he remembered...the churches of his boyhood...demands made from the altar steps by men who didn't know the meaning of sacrifice." ...read more.

Middle

The priest's suffering redeems his shameful life and helps the reader become more sympathetic with this character. Greene makes the characters ironically similar and different. He does this in some ways to alter our perceptions of what can be judged or how we can judge. Ironically the lieutenant lives like the priest should live according to catholic teachings whilst the priest lives in the opposite way in which he should. Definite proof of the priest-like life of the lieutenant can be found in the following passage: "there was something of a priest in his intent observant walk...He was a mystic too...he felt no need of women". The priest on the other hand has many sins, he does have a "weakness for flesh", he is an alcoholic and he was initially, in the past, interested in money above religion. It is very difficult to judge in terms of who is nobler, it is clear that the lieutenant has more control over his actions and person and that although he is essentially looking for power, he has adopted a cause which he is convinced will make the world better. ...read more.

Conclusion

The priest on the contrary has weaknesses, he fears, he suffers, he has had temptations and above all he has compassion for the "half-hearted and the corrupt". The priest's compassion and weaknesses make him more human, and thus make us share more sympathy for him even though he does not suit our idea of a good priest. The most primitive comparison between these two characters is that the lieutenant is willing to kill the priest out of hatred whilst the priest feels compassion for the type of person the lieutenant is. This is the most definite difference amongst these two entwining characters. In conclusion, these two "dark" question marks remain being a mystery individually at the end of the first part, but if seen as a whole one may discover that the two characters need each other to exist as they do. The priest needs the persecution to become a real priest worthy of our sincere sympathy whilst the lieutenant needs of his prey to have a vehicle to save the future generations. And though completely opposite in many aspects, one cannot draw a line across either of them without inevitably understanding the fundamental ways in which they exist and thus in which they are similar. By: Andr�s Sebasti�n Besserer Rayas. ...read more.

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