• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
Page
  1. 1
    1
  2. 2
    2
  3. 3
    3
  4. 4
    4
  5. 5
    5
  6. 6
    6
  7. 7
    7
  8. 8
    8
  9. 9
    9

The Bellis concerned primarily with the dark conflict between sex and religion. To what extent is this true and how important is this conflict to the novel as a whole?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

The Bell is concerned primarily with the dark conflict between sex and religion. To what extent is this true and how important is this conflict to the novel as a whole? Throughout Iris Murdoch's novel, 'The Bell' we are constantly being presented with conflicts, many of which relate to the discord between sex and religion which have been opposed to each other since the dawn of creation when Adam and Eve succumbed to temptation in the Garden of Eden. This conflict has particularly dark tendencies and acts as a destructive force for several characters, namely Catherine, Michael and Nick. Despite this being the primary theme of the novel we are also presented with a number of conflicts of a different nature. The main conflict of the novel is that existing between sex and religion, as embodied by Catherine and Michael. Michael is constantly confronted by the issue of his sexuality and how it affects his religion. He is always striving to live a good life and he believes that entering into the priesthood would allow him to achieve this. However he is prevented from fulfilling this wish by his homosexuality which goes completely against the Church's teaching. Michael believes that to live a good life, "One should have a conception of one's capacities ... study carefully how best to use such strength as one has". In initiating relationships with firstly Nick and then subsequently with Toby, Michael is clearly failing to do this. ...read more.

Middle

The only way in is through a door in the wall, which surprisingly is always kept unlocked. Toby discovers this when he climbs over the wall into the abbey as part of his sexual awakening. This incident follows the embrace with Michael and is Toby's attempt to convince himself that he is not homosexual. There is very little contact made between the abbey and the court. We only see rare glimpses of the nuns and Michael is the only person who is allowed to visit the Abbess. Most communications are made through Mother Clare, her intermediary. These boundaries are all representative of the widening gap between lay and spiritual life, and the fading role of religion in everyday existence during the 1950's when Murdoch was writing. People were abandoning the church in favour of other beliefs more relevant to the world they were living in. The community as a whole is separated from the rest of the world as there is a boundary wall enclosing both the abbey and the court. As Michael comes to realise, the community was an impossible dream; it is an attempt to isolate themselves from the realities of life. We also see religious and sexual conflicts between individual characters. Take for instance the contrasting speeches given by Michael and James Tayper Pace, in chapters 9 and 16 respectively, on how to live a 'good life'. James teaches that the good life is, "to live without any image of oneself". ...read more.

Conclusion

There is ironic symbolism in the name of Dora's lover, Noel Spens. Noel is a very Christian name but he speaks out strongly against religion. He believes that it misguides people and places unfair restrictions on their lives. Dora's changing musical tastes are also significant. At the beginning when they hold an evening of Bach's music, Dora dislikes this as she finds it too structured and formal. She much prefers listening to Noel's jazz music, with its jungle rhythms and exuberant style. However by the end of the novel we are told that she has taken an interest in listening to Mozart. This is representative of the change from chaos to order in her life in general. She learns to take control of her life and not let Paul repress her. Initially she describes marriage as being "enclosed in the aims of another". She is scared of Paul's physical power and will follow his orders to the letter. She is like the butterfly trapped on the train. Toby saves her from his restrictiveness by allowing her to rediscover her youth. He releases her. At the same time Dora saves Toby from being trapped in a relationship with Michael by allowing him to realise that he is not homosexual. There are many conflicts within this novel, the majority of which relate in some way to that existing between sex and religion. It is its destructive nature which makes this conflict so dark and I would argue that it is a conflict that can never truly be resolved. We do see different kinds of conflict as I have discussed but these do not play such a central role in the novel. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Emily Bronte section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Emily Bronte essays

  1. Discuss the relationship between literary and film versions of a particular 'romance' text. What ...

    Kosminskys main interest in this movie was to show the viewer the great love story between Cathy and Heathcliff. Yet he gave the audience little time to grasp the storyline as he wanted us to focus primarily on the main 'stars' without drifting the audiences mind towards other matters.

  2. What is the significance in the novel of the incident where Dora rescues a ...

    During chapter 3 of the book, Dora felt 'flimsy and ephemeral' and also 'as if she were merely a thought in [Paul's] mind'. Dora could feel like the butterfly on the train, which is delicate and short-lived, just as she feels, but the butterfly was also trapped, and Dora herself

  1. Heathcliff Strides The Novel Like A Malevolent Colossus Do You Agree?

    When Heathcliff gets her to the Heights he treats her like she is some sort of African slave she tells people about her pain and this does exactly what Heathcliff wants. It causes Edgar to disown her. He refuses to visit her in the Heights and sends Nelly with letters from him because he is afraid.

  2. Heathcliff goes away and comes back 'transformed' in 'WutheringHeights '. What other 'transformations' are ...

    I believe that Heathcliff is both satanic and heroic. At the start of the story when he is abused by Hindley and he still proceeds to fulfil his failed love for the older Cathy, he is seen as a heroic figure as he is trying to fulfil his dreams but is restricted by other characters actions.

  1. Discuss Jane Austen's use of settings in the novel Northanger Abbey, showing how this ...

    Catherine was 'invited to accept an arm of the eldest Miss Thorpe', showing how she tags along a bit as all this is new to her. Also she straightaway considers Isabella a friend as the thinks that 'friendship is certainly the finest balm'.

  2. Discuss the character of Catherine Earnshaw and your reaction to her and her importance ...

    However, she makes the decision to marry Edgar Linton because it would degrade her to marry Heathcliff. This choice proves to be fatal. On her deathbed, she realizes what she has done. When Heathcliff comes to see her during her last days, she tells him bitterly, "I with I could hold you 'till we were both dead!

  1. 'Mrs Penniman's character is to some extent a mere caricature' in Henry James' 'Washington ...

    Like her costumes her language and gestures seem to be hyperbolic and unnecessary, although this could be a ploy to create a larger part in the plot that she would otherwise have. Her continuous use of hyperbolic and melodramatic language makes the character seem to be humorously overdramatic and over

  2. To what extent did governments become more enlightened in Austria and Russia during the ...

    Paralleling Catherine was Joseph the II in Austria who was described by Festetics as "our Philosophical and Enlightened Monarch." Joseph has been called an "Aufklarung" - a child of the Enlightenment and Treasure says that "real reform only came after 1780" with his accession.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work