"Brighton Rock" Is The First Novel In Which Graham Greene Incorporates Theology. Discuss The Author's Use Of Religion And Religious Imagery.

1542 words - 6 pages

"Heaven was a word; Hell was something he could trust."Religion is a significant aspect of Graham Greene's Brighton Rock. It gives the reader a chance to explore the religious beliefs and workings that take place in the mind of each of the characters. Religion is not only a matter of the character's beliefs, but is also an important factor in the dilemmas and situations they confront. Whether through Hale's funeral and Ida's unconventional belief system, or Pinkie and Rose's Catholicism and under-age marriage, religion provides a backdrop against which the events of the book are set. Perhaps more uncomfortable however, is the suggestion of an inversion of the Seven Sacraments through which Pinkie passes - perhaps on his way to "...something he could trust".Hale's funeral is a subtle introduction of the theme of religion in the novel. Its main purpose is to examine Ida's controversial beliefs and views, as well as creating grey areas surrounding what is right and wrong. Both before and after the funeral service Ida says, "I like a funeral". This gives an immediate shock value, and taken out of context, gives a very negative image of Ida. Greene expands this, however, to explain that she liked a funeral as most people "...like a ghost story". Even though Greene actually states that Ida is not religious, the reader gets the impression that Ida has a religion of her very own - a religion that believes "...only in ghosts, ouija boards" and "...little inept voices speaking plaintively of flowers". Greene uses Ida's attitude to Christianity, to possibly reflect his own uncertainty. Ida believes that "...papists treat death with flippancy" and that life was not as important to them as death, and what comes after death. Ida's belief system therefore, stands as an alternative to Pinkie and Rose's Catholicism. She herself seems to stand as a symbol of life being lived;"Life was sunlight on brass bedposts, Ruby port, the leap of the heart."This is not to say however, that she should be seen in an entirely positive light; her conviction that "I know what's right", seems in many ways to be as dogmatic and unmerciful as that of the "papists" themselves.Greene presents uses Hale's funeral to examine another type of unconventional belief. The church where Hale is cremated is portrayed as a modern secular church, creating another religious perspective aside from that of Catholicism and Ida's non-conformism. A sense of irony is apparent during the priest's speech. He states that:"Our belief in heaven, is not qualified by our disbelief in the old medieval hell."almost dismissing the existence of Hell, but Greene then subtly mocks this by describing how the "...coffin slid smoothly down into the fiery sea". This extreme contrast conjures up images of Hell and damnation and the use of alliteration is a helpful tool to demonstrate this image to the reader.Within Brighton Rock, Hell is most closely associated with the two main protagonists Pinkie and Rose. To stop Rose...

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