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How is morality presented in the novels Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Therese Raquin by Emile Zola?

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Introduction

The issue of morality is blatantly presented in the novels Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Therese Raquin by Emile Zola. Marquez's novel is set in a world where morality is inextricably linked to religion and honour to such an extent that the community's behaviour and actions are driven by these rather than legal concerns. Zola's novel explores the effect on individuals of individuals and their resulting unravelling after an immoral deed. In the name of honour, the murder of Santiago Nasar was committed "before God" (Marquez, G. 2003, p.49; subsequent citations refer to this edition and appear in the text) according to the controversial religious standards of society. Blinded by this religious conscription, the Vicario brothers' moral beliefs are significantly influenced to accept murder when dealing with a "matter of honour" (p.49). This in effect shocks and surprises the reader as Marquez is able to expose the hypocrisies of the "unforgiving bloodthirstiness" (p.49) that is murder. Through this he subtly reveals his antagonistic view to the reader of such immoral deeds integrated into society. Marquez also addresses the moral ambiguity of the brothers' actions during their trial; he mocks the law and its concord with religion. ...read more.

Middle

The horrific and wholesomely real nature of a mother having a need to almost "kill" (p.46) to ensure a severe punishment is endured by her daughter is quite outrageous and grossly immoral to show the dangerous values such a society lives by. The repeated presumption by the townspeople of Santiago Nasar's death being inevitable and unavoidable is criticised by Marquez as he 'charges' the society for his murder. The unjust proclamation of the death of Santiago Nasar being his fate is an excuse of society attempting to justify and reconcile their guilt. "No one even wondered whether Santiago Nasar had been warned, because it seemed impossible to all that he hadn't." (p.20). The lack of a collective guilt felt by society is a clear indication of their pre-emptive attempt to retain their innocence. Father Amador also tries to make the narrator "understand" his 'situation', that the coming of the Bishop was time-constraining, and thus "he'd forgotten completely" (p.70). The absence of his guilt underlines the effect of religion that causes the townspeople not to be constrained by moral values as the reader would be but instead to unconsciously accept such an immoral act that "wasn't any of their business" (p.70). ...read more.

Conclusion

Zola explores the consequence of moral injustice also through the physical resemblance of guilt in the symbol of the cat that represents Camille. Laurent is lost into believing that "'Camille has entered into the cat'" (p.121) which leads him to feel very "afraid" (p.121) from Francois's "hard, cruel stare" (p.121). This ghostly presence of Camille created in Laurent's mind acts as an inescapable reminder of guilt that he tries to excuse by making absurd remarks like "'...It looks human.'" (p.121). Here Zola is highlighting the "fear and anguish" (p.121) of Laurent's clouded mind and how, to the reader, we cannot surpass our moral values that control our thought. In Chronicle of a Death Foretold Gabriel Garcia Marquez tellingly reveals that the social-hierarchy determines what is right and what wrong in such an instance of murder. He critically examines the extent to which morality is perverted by honour and religion. In Therese Raquin Emile Zola's record of human behaviour surpasses moral limits so as to expose where these boundaries stand through a naturalistic approach and subjective reasoning. Both writers comprehensively express how guilt and even remorse is inevitable and solemnly inescapable in the presence of immorality. ...read more.

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