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Explore the presentation of the theme of religion in "Angela's Ashes"

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Introduction

Explore the presentation of the theme of religion in "Angela's Ashes" Throughout the novel, religion is presented as being of extreme importance in Irish society, influencing the beliefs and actions of the characters. I will attempt to highlight the several factors which I believe make up the presentation of religion in "Angela's Ashes". From the beginning of the book, religion is said to make up a large part of the unhappy childhood Frank suffered. The following quote shows the extent of Frank's sentiments: "Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood, is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood" The quote above portrays the crescendo of negative emotion, describing the worse possible scenario of a childhood, adding finally "Catholic" to signify the most terrible part of the childhood Frank suffered. This indicates that religion played an important role in a person's life and in the society presented by the book. A person's life was structured to follow the ideals of their religion. From the tone of the quote however, I am led to believe that according to Frank, being a Catholic lead to suffering in life and that therefore, religion guided lives. What is shown later in the book is that the misery Frank refers to is not only poverty and living standards, but the Catholic way of life, restricting freedom and opportunity in life. ...read more.

Middle

The basic sentiment shown by both quotes is that a person could be sent to "rot in hell" for any mistake, regardless of its severity. An element of superstition is shown by the quote, yet its impact on the people, and on Frank is tremendous. However, regardless of the fact that Frank and other characters in the book are taught how to behave, they defy the rules of the church. The following quote sets out the quota referring to sexual behaviour, as found in the Bible: "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery, which means impure thoughts, impure words, impure deeds, and that's what adultery is, Dirty Things in General" Yet Frank defied this "code of conduct" by 'interfering' with himself and committing the act of 'excitement'. His reaction to sleeping with Theresa, willingly and knowingly, is: "She's crying and I'm crying for I don't know what's happening. I'm riding to heaven I'm falling off a cliff and if this is a sin I don't give a fiddler's fart" This is an example of where the ideas put forward by religion are not obeyed in practice, indicating that while religion seemed to be a major part of life, people still defied it. The second expectation of the church is put forward by the quote, said to Frank's mother by his father in order to pressure her into sleeping with him when she refused: "The good Catholic woman must perform her wifely duties ...read more.

Conclusion

Through the novel, it becomes clear that religion transcended from a belief into a strict way of life, and that things which were believed to be rites of passage, such as Communion and Confirmation, were viewed as important by the children because they gave them an opportunity to eat and to enjoy themselves, rather than take part in a holy occasion. The father, the grandmother and even the schoolmaster use religion as a threat in the novel. In each occasion where a person is threatened their actions are given a significant consequence, such as "rotting in hell" and "facing eternal damnation", all serious consequences to often minor mistakes. This indicates that it was often too easy to sin in the Catholic religion, and that almost anything a person did, even impure thoughts, could be considered sins. Frank makes a comment about being "an official sinner" after his First Communion, indicating that he considers sinning to be a natural part of life, and that being an "official" sinner allows him to confess, and therefore gain forgiveness from the Church. Religion has been presented through threats made to force people into doing something often against their will. It has been presented as inspiring fear in people and therefore directing their lives. Overall, many characters, including Frank, have shown only a superficial belief in Catholicism, although through the fear they have they live their lives in accordance with the church, yet often defying its basic principles, such as sex before marriage, theft and adultery. ?? ?? ?? ?? Marija Pecar 11SM ...read more.

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