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Biblical Allegories In Modern Literature Essay

1769 words - 8 pages

John Milton, in his epic poem “Paradise Lost,” expresses that “the mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven” (Milton). This idea not only counteracts the basic ideals of Christianity but simultaneously disrupts the widely accepted idea of a separated heaven and hell and the expectations needed to be met to achieve entry. Religion and the bible, two of the most widely disputed topics in history, serve as a muse for authors to explain humanity’s fatal flaws. Throughout East of Eden and The Winter of Our Discontent, Steinbeck uses biblical stories and their basic principles to display the hypocrisy of modern Christianity.
Criticism of organized religion’s hypocrisy and rigidness is often seen throughout Steinbeck’s writing despite his Episcopalian upbringing and knowledge of the bible. Steinbeck’s mother pounded the bible into his mind which explains his particular fascination with God and the ideals displayed in the sacred text. His falling out with organized religion did not hinder his ability to portray the stories and beliefs in his texts. In the author’s childhood he even feuded with organized religion publicly by speaking out during a sermon at his church which had enraged him. To much of his mother’s dismay, Steinbeck exclaimed “you all look satisfied here, while outside the world begs for a crust of bread or a chance to earn it. Feed the body and the soul will take care of itself!” Steinbeck managed to go against the speaker and was immediately asked if he could deliver an even better sermon (Wrath of Steinbeck). Steinbeck’s misbehavior in the church continued when he was altar serving and dropped a brass cross on an old man and was never asked back to the mass. Steinbeck rejects the apparent hypocrisy within religion and the obsession with materialistic wealth. In almost every book of the bible there is a call to let go of worldly possessions and a warning about materialism. The bible instructs humanity to “not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys” (The Holy Bible). Steinbeck explores the hypocrisy of this in The Winter of Our Discontent through the character of Mr. Baker. The banker attends church avidly yet contains a deep obsession with money and materialism. He is often caught making business deals to increase his wealth even if it means a business meeting on the holiest day in Christianity, Easter Sunday. Frank K. Flinn, a professor of religious studies at Washington University, believes that “ethical evil manifests itself on all levels: the personal, the God, and the economic” which eludes to the idea that sin is everywhere even within organized religious practices (Evil Catholicism). The Winter of Our Discontent highlights the internal desire for wealth and societies influence on the importance of it. The members of the town...

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