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Attitudes to religion and the church in Tess of the D'Urbervilles

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Introduction

ATTITUDES TO RELIGION AND THE CHURCH In Tess of the D'Urbervilles: Religion and the church are highlighted in: Angel's brother and Mercy Chant: they show that religion is intolerant and snobbish - often a social facade to show that one is a better person. Angel's father: he is a bit of a paradox because he is presented ambivalently with regard to Hardy's attitude of the clergy. On the one hand he is shown as a brave and caring man; He suffers against verbal and physical abuse and in fact is seen to be quite passionate over his job, highlighted in his quest to convert the very unreceptive (initially, and then later) Alec. The church in parts is portrayed as something that does not want to be concerned with 'soiled' people and their deeds (e.g. the 'rule' which does not allow Tess's child be buried in the churchyard), yet Rev. Clare is seen to mix with a wide variety of social classes. But, he also seems to be more concerned with dogma and in this way he is limited in his vision i.e. ...read more.

Middle

Summary: Religion seems to place more emphasis on the moral perception according to the church than feeling or humanity. Hardy makes it clear that the true human spirit does not need an institution such as the church to make it real or moral. Other points: * Religion seems to be something that instils fear and horror, for example Tess imagines a merciless fate her baby: 'consigned to the nethermost corner of hell.. the arch fiend tossing it with his three pronged fork' There seems to be no room for forgiveness or humility. Instead it seems to consist mainly of intolerance and an insistence on rules. * Hardy does not necessarily portray atheists as better people than clergy. Angel who is clearly anti-Christian is less broad-minded (and that's saying a lot) and less forgiving than his father, though they both share a sense of idealism. ATTITUDES TO RELIGION AND THE CHURCH In Wuthering Heights: Religions is mainly presented to us through Nelle and Joseph and they are unrelentless in their sour and cold judgements: E.g. When Heathcliff hears of Cathy's death, Nelle says 'Yes, she's dead! ...read more.

Conclusion

Time brought resignation, and a melancholy sweeter than common joy'. Religion is made to sound lame and emotionless. E.g. Nelle on the way Edgar acted after Cathy's death: 'he displayed the true courage of a loyal and faithful soul: he trusted God and God comforted him. Limitations of Religion The limitations of religion and the absoluteness of other things such as love, are highlighted in WH. Heathcliff loves Cathy so much that he does not 'trust' religion to keep him sustained after Cathy's death or even that he will meet Cathy again - religion can not substitute something as powerful as their love which is not limited to the confines of morality. Religion is rejected through Catherine's dream, which implies that heaven is a restriction whereas something such as nature is more natural and inviting to her. When Cathy and Heathcliff have their last meeting, Edgar is out at church. Thus, with the setting of these characters it creates a comparison between the passionate and all-consuming nature of their union and religion. We can be sure that Edgar's outing to church could not have produced a fraction of the genuine devotion created through the intimate and meaningful last meeting of C+H. ...read more.

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