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The heart of the matter, By Graham Greene. "The Sinner is often the saint", In what ways does Greene explore this paradox with reference to Scobie?

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Introduction

The heart of the matter, By Graham Greene. "The Sinner is often the saint", In what ways does Greene explore this paradox with reference to Scobie? The conflicts surrounding moral responsibility are outlined in Graham Greene's 1948 novel, The Heart of the Matter. The story outlines the plight of a man of principle who is unable to fulfill his responsibilities to himself, his wife, and God. Scobie, an upright assistant commissioner for the police, has little promise of improvement facing life with a small income, few friends, and a malcontent wife. As he becomes further trapped in his situation, he must choose between upholding religious and moral values or following his heart. Scobie's futile attempts to please everyone lead to damnation of his soul and his inevitable suicide. Scobie's initial character changed a great deal to become the man at the end of the story. As a police officer, Scobie demonstrated complete obedience to the laws he served under, and this attitude was carried over into other aspects of his life. ...read more.

Middle

Louise's decision to return home because of knowledge of the relationship and Scobie's obligation to keep both women happy forces Scobie to turn to God. He places their well being before his own, leading to self-damnation and a deeper plunge into the tangled string of emotions and duties he is now in. Scobie's guilt for being unable to be loyal and to please both his wife and his mistress interferes with his judgment on how to solve the situation. Although he was not in control of the circumstances he was dealt with, he was responsible for his reactions to these. It was not wise for Scobie to allow himself to become involved in a relationship with Ms. Rolt, as this is a betrayal of God and his wife. Scobie seals his fate of damnation with a series of events beginning with his attempt to make the situation right by going to confession. Although he confesses, he cannot be truly sorry and fails to repent. ...read more.

Conclusion

"He tried to pray, but the Hail Mary evaded his memory, and he was aware of his heartbeats like a clock striking the hour. He tried out an act of contrition, but when he reached 'I am sorry and beg pardon', a cloud formed over the door and drifted down over the whole room and he couldn't remember what it was that he had to be sorry for." (p. 265) Scobie's culpability and emotional torture is proven to be in vain at the end of the novel as both the women in his life have other men at their side, neither his immature mistress nor his pious spouse was worth his sacrifice. Greene strongly establishes the view that love leads to sin in The Heart of the Matter. This book illustrates the confusion of a Catholic man as he is torn between the obligation to his wife and the oath to a piteous young woman. The sympathy and responsibility he feels for every other person but himself leads him to commit sins and destroy himself. Scobie is a man tormented by the impossibility to live up to the dictates of his religion, wife, and heart. Asli Colak - 1 - ...read more.

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