religion and morality in john updike’s ‘a&p’ and salman rushdie’s ‘the prophet’s hair’

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religion and morality in john updike’s ‘a&p’ and salman rushdie’s ‘the prophet’s hair’

ABSTRACT

Religion and morality, considered as two inseparable entities, are central preoccupations in literature. The two are viable tools in exploring the concerns of many writers including John Updike and Salman Rushdie. The research examines religion and morality in two short stories – John Updike’s ‘A&P’ and Salman Rushdie’s ‘The Prophet’s Hair’. The study adopts formalism, a theory that examines ‘form’ as related to the autonomy and aesthetics of an art work. The analysis of the two short stories revealed that the stories are preoccupied with morality and religion. Updike’s concern is with Christianity while Rushdie focuses on Islam. Updike explores the idea that what is morally justifiable to one person may be morally unjustifiable to another while Rushdie treats the question of morality in the theme of retributive justice. John Updike and Salman Rushdie are radical writers who deploy religion to examine hypocrisy and retribution respectively.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ABSTRACT

CHAPTER ONE

Introduction

Statement of Research Problem

Purpose of the Study

Scope and Limitation

Justification

Methodology

Authors’ Background

Literature Review

CHAPTER TWO

John Updike’s ‘A&P’

The Plot of ‘A&P’

Thematic Preoccupation in ‘A&P’

The Setting of ‘A&P’

Characterization in ‘A&P”

Language and Style of ‘A&P’

CHAPTER THREE

Salman Rushdie’s ‘The Prophet’s Hair’ – Plot

Thematic Preoccupation in ‘The Prophet’s Hair’

The Setting of ‘The Prophet’s Hair’

Characterization in ‘The Prophet’s Hair’

Language and Style of ‘The Prophet’s Hair’

CHAPTER FOUR

A Comparative Study of John Updike’s ‘A&P’ and Salman Rushdie’s ‘The Prophet’s Hair’.

Findings

Summary

Conclusion

CHAPTER FIVE

Recommendations

5.1 Bibliography

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Religion has always been concerned with morality. Indeed, the Ten Commandments are moral commandments. Much of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ are concerned with the standards of conduct by which men ought to live. At the very core of religion is the message that man must live according to the moral standards of God in order to achieve ultimate salvation.

Early philosophers, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, among them, were concerned with religion and morality. The earliest dramas of medieval Europe and England were miracle and morality plays.

Khalid Latif (2008) believes that Islam is a comprehensive way of life, and morality is one of the cornerstones of Islam. Morality is one of the fundamental sources of a nation’s strength, just as immorality is one of the main causes of a nation’s decline. Islam has established some universal fundamental rights for humanity as a whole, which are to be observed in all circumstances. To uphold these rights, Islam has provided not only legal safeguards, but also a very effective moral system. Thus, in Islam, whatever leads to the welfare of the individual or the society and does not oppose any maxims of the religion is morally good, and whatever is harmful is morally bad.

John Updike and Salman Rushdie, whose short stories have been selected for this study, are concerned with morality. The society in John Updike’s ‘A&P’ is presented as a religious one that believes in morality and associates certain values with some moral standards. However, the writer uses the major character in the story, Sammy, a teenage boy, to protest against the belief held by the entire A&P society represented by Lengel, the manager of the supermarket and his ‘sheep’.

In the same vein, Salman Rushdie’s ‘The Prophet’s’ Hair examines the question of religion and morality and the writer uses the characters in the story to establish the theme of retributive justice for good or evil.

Religion and morality will be examined in the two short stories and the formalist theory will be adopted in the study.

Statement of Research Problem

Researches have established the role of religion for upholding religious faith and religious uprightness. The research problem encountered is the people’s perception of religion, and the belief that it is only through religion that morality can be upheld. There is also the problem of using religion to inculcate moral values, and the notion and belief that one’s mode of dressing may be a sign of moral delinquency. The notion that youths are the moral delinquent ones and the problem of religious uprightness are issues to be addressed.

These identified problems encountered in the course of the research are critically going to be addressed. The questions arrived at after identifying the problems are:-

What is the relationship (or the point of contact) between religion and morality?
How has religion been able to increase and inculcate moral values?
How can we use religion to address the issue of moral delinquency?
What is the difference between religion and religious faith?
These questions among others are going to be addressed in the study of the two short stories.

Purpose of The Study

The purpose of the study is to examine religion and morality in the two short stories: John Updike’s ‘A&P’ and Salman Rushdie’s ‘The Prophet’s Hair’. The study also aims at examining the narrative elements in the stories.

A short story is one of many narrative structures. Thus, the study will also focus on the definition as well as the properties of a short story.

Scope and Limitation

Religion and morality are aspect of human life that are inseparable and should be treated as a single indivisible entity. Issues of religion and morality have been addressed by John Updike and Salman Rushdie in their short stories; ‘A&P’ and ‘The Prophet’s Hair’ respectively. The study will therefore, limit itself to identifying the elements in the short stories that relate to issues of religion and morality. These issues will be addressed and examined critically in order to establish a relationship with the variables in the research topic; religion and morality.

Justification

‘Religion and morality in John Updike’s ‘A&P’ and Salman Rushdie’s ‘The Prophet’s Hair’ is a topic which deserves attention. Few researches according to findings have dealt with the short story. The short story has suffered neglect in criticism. Researches deal more with the novel, the dramatic and poetic genres and shy away from the short story. This neglect may have been informed by the fact that the short story appears flimsy and can be read at one sitting. But the short story is not flimsy. It is a complex form and incorporates the features of both the novel and poetry. Poetry as we know is the most complex genre of literature.

Therefore, this research will examine how the authors have addressed the issue of religion and morality in their works and add to the literature review on the short story and the two authors: Updike and Rushdie.

Nevertheless, religious groups and the society at large will benefit from this research, because at the end of the study, the examination of issues in the stories will help to re-shape their thinking and views on religion and morality.

Methodology

The research work will adopt the formalist theory. This theory will focus on the theme of hypocrisy in the short stories selected for study. The thematic concern will incorporate sub-themes that will revolve around the major thematic focus to create unity and establish the relationship between the various sub-themes that will be selected alongside the major thematic focus.

The formalist theory emanated in France in the 19th century, and the concern is with structure, form, and aestheticism and involves other sub-elements such as the nature of imagery, linguistic features and motif.

Authors’ Background

JOHN HOYER UPDIKE (1932-2009)

John Hoyer Updike was born on March, 1932 in Reading, Pennsylvania. He is best known as the author of Rabbit, Run. He died on January 27th, 2009.

FAMILY AND MARRIAGES

Updike was the only child of Wesley Russell Updike and Linda Grace Hoyer in Reading, Pennsylvania and he grew up in a nearby small town-Shillington. The family later moved to the unincorporated village of Plowville. His mother’s attempts to be a published writer influenced the young Updike’s own aspirations.

John Updike married Mary Entwisted Pennington in 1953. They separated in 1974 and were divorced in 1976. They had four children: David, Michael, Miranda and Elizabeth. He later married Martha Bernhard in 1977 and they remained married until his death in 2009.

EARLY LIFE AND CAREER

John Updike graduated from Shillington High School as a co-valedictorian and class president in 1950. He later attended Harvard after receiving a full scholarship. At Harvard, he immediately established himself as a major talent of indefatigable energy, submitting a steady stream of articles and drawings for the Harvard Lampoon, which he served as president before graduating Summa Cum Laude in 1954 with a degree in English.

After graduation, he decided to become a graphic artist and attended the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at the University of Oxford. His early ambition was to be a cartoonist. After moving to the United States, Updike and his family moved to New York, where he became a regular contributor to ‘The New Yorker’. He stayed only two years writing “Talk of the Town’ columns and submitting poetry and short stories to the magazine. During this time Updike also underwent spiritual crisis suffering from a loss of religious faith and began reading Soren Kierkeqaard and the theologian, Karl Barth. Both deeply influenced his own religious beliefs, which in turn figured prominently in his fiction. He remained a believing Christian for the rest of his life.

Updike’s subject is ‘the American small town, protestant middle – class”. He is well recognized for his careful craftsmanship, his unique prose style, and his prolificness. He populated his fiction with characters who frequently experience personal turmoil and must respond to crises relating to religion, family obligations and marital infidelity. His fiction emphasizes on Christian theology, sexuality, and sensual details. His highly distinctive prose style features a rich, unusual, sometimes arcane vocabulary as conveyed through the eye of ‘a wry intelligent authorial voice’ that extravagantly describes the physical world while remaining squarely in the realist tradition. He variously described his own style as ‘an attempt to give the mundane its beautiful due’.

SALMAN RUSHDIE (1947 – )

Salman Rushdie is a famous writer. He was born in 1947 in a Muslim family in Bombay. His father was a Cambridge –educated businessman. At the age of fourteen, Rushdie was sent to Rugby School in England. In 1964, his parents moved to Karachi, Pakistan,

EDUCATION AND CAREER

Salman Rushdie graduated from King’s College, Cambridge, in History with Honours. After graduation, he worked for sometime in the

television Industry in Pakistan. He made a debut as a novelist with Grimus in 1975. In his writings, he uses tales from various genres – fantasy, mythology, religion and oral tradition. Though most of his books have been subject of controversies, in the year 1988, Salman Rushdie came in the eye of storm with the publication of The Satanic Verses for its alleged blasphemous remarks on Islam and the Prophet. The entire Muslim world was enraged at the publication of the novel, The Satanic Verses. This led to the declaration of death sentence on him by Ayatollah Khomeini, the then religious sovereign of Iran. This was when Rushdie went into hiding in London. After remaining in hiding for many years, Rushdie came out recently.

Rushdie’s work, Midnight’s Children was awarded the Bookers’ Prize in 1993 and this brought him international fame. In 1996, he received the European Union Literary Award in Denmark. His other works are Shame (1983), The Wizard of Oz (1992), The Moor’s Last Sigh (1995), amongst others.

MARRIAGES

Salman Rushdie is known for his multiple marriages. In 1976, he married Clarissa Luard, they had a son from the marriage. Rushdie and Luard divorced in 1987. He latemarried Marianne Wiggins in 1988, a year after his divorce with Luard. Wiggins is an American novelist. Rushdie and Marianne Wiggins divorced in 1993. His third marriage was to Elizabeth West in the year 1997, through which she had a son. But the marriage also hit the rock in the year 2004.

Rushdie’s last marriage, which is the fourth one, is to a prominent Indian model and actress, Padmalakshmi in 2004. The marriage lasted until the year 2007.

 

JOHN UPDIKE, SALMAN RUSHDIE AND THE SHORT STORY

Rushdie and Updike are both radical and controversial writers. They are also writers of short stories. The short story according to Wikipedia, is a work of prose fiction that is long enough for an average reader to finish it in one sitting rather than several, as the longer novel or novella normally takes. This usually means it would be somewhere under 10,000 words.

Edgar Allan Poe once described a short story or ‘tales’ as they were then called as a ‘short prose narrative requiring from a half-hour to one or two hours in its perusal…. During the hour, the hour of Perusal, the soul of the reader is at the writer’s control. There are no external or extrinsic influences resulting from weariness or interruption. This was taken from a review Poe had made in 1842 of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s ‘Twice –

Told Tales’. This is why it is common to say that a short story should be read at one sitting. Poe’s comment implies the brevity of many short stories and points to the economy of management which the tightness of the form always imposes in some degree. We can say that, by and large, the short story writer introduces a very limited number of persons, cannot afford the space for the leisurely analysis and sustained development of character and cannot undertake to develop as dense and detailed social milieu as does the novelist.

The author of the short story often begins the story close to, or even on the verge of the climax, minimizes both prior exposition and the details of the setting, keeps the complication down, and clears up the denouement quickly sometimes in a few sentences. The central incident is often selected to be as revelatory as possible of the totality of the protagonist’s life and character, and the details are devised to carry maximum significance. This sparseness in the narrative often gives the artistry in a well-constructed novel. The short story, like the novel, however, has all the elements of fiction. These are: theme, setting, plot, characterization, language, and point-of-view.

SETTING

This is the time and place or location in which a short story takes place. It is the background against which the events in the story are built. For some stories, the setting is very important, while for others it is not.

Akande and Ibrahim (2000, 53) posits that,

Without setting, the story is like a building

without a foundation. No matter how

beautiful a building is, if it lacks a

foundation, its aesthetic and structural

functionality are weakened.

The setting of a short story however is usually strategically chosen and may be limited to just a few places, and the time setting may be made to run between the time space of morning, afternoon and night.

THE PLOT

This is the sequential arrangement of a series of events in the story. A story may be likened to a piece of a new cloth cut into pieces by a tailor to be sewn into a dress. The pieces are sewn together to make a dress. The complete dress is the plot. The plot may be sub-divided into three phases-the beginning, the middle, the end and must have a unity. The short story usually have one plot so it can maintain this unity. There are five essential parts of the plot: Introduction, rising action, falling action, climax and denouement which is the resolution of the conflict generated in the climax.

CHARACTERIZATION

What the writer does is to bring into focus how human imagination is physically entangled in the human character. The author therefore, is working from the point-of-view of an object marked or raised or made by man on a scene and this is worth ten times any such formed by unconscious nature. There are two meanings for the word ‘character’: the person in a work of fiction and the characteristics of a person. The main character in a work of fiction is either the antagonist or the protagonist.

Short stories use few characters. One character is clearly central to the story with all the major events revolving around this character. This character is the protagonist. The opposer of the main character is the antagonist. Characters are convincing if they are consistent, motivated, and life-like (resemble real people). There are two major types of characters, they are round and flat characters.

LANGUAGE

According to Ibrahim and Akande (2000, 57) language is ‘the putting of words together in order to achieve a piece of creative work”. The setting of a work – rural or urban will determine the kind of diction the author will use to describe the attributes that characterize the place.

THE STYLE

This is where the ‘wholeness of art comes into focus’. Ranging from setting to denouement, the artist would demonstrate artistic skill. This is the author’s ability to adapt his language to the material or the idea he is dealing with. Style, therefore, is the skillful interpretation or coating of one’s thought, idea and feelings in a method that is peculiar or unique to a particular author. No two authors have exactly the same stylistic approach to writing. The beauty of any style thus lies in its intelligibility and its functionality. A novelist primarily uses language imaginatively for aesthetics. Therefore, without the use of language and other narrative elements, the novelist’s work would not be different from historical, sociological and anthropological documentations.

THE THEME

This is the message in a work of fiction. It is the central idea of any literary piece. No literature can exist without a theme or some themes readily presented through the content of the writing. The mood and tone can also be easily predicted from the underlining theme. The subject could be the quest motif; it could be birth or death, guilt or innocence, greed, scapegoatism, rituals, sacrifices, and so on. The theme is the minor category of ideas that could be gotten from the subject which is the central idea.

POINT-OF-VIEW

This is the medium used by the novelist to indicate the mode used by a character in a particular fictional work. Through this, the author allows the reader to see how a character expresses his thoughts, feelings, and at times gestures. The point-of-view may be classified as follows: Innocent eye, the stream of consciousness, the first person point-of-view, and the omniscient point-of-view.

The short story differs from the novel and the novelette, though the three are fictions. The critical consciousness of the short story as a piece of fiction distinct in purpose and in method from the novel dates only from the nineteenth century. It was Edgar Allan Poe who first designated and realized the short story as a distinct form of literary art.

A true short story is something other and something more than a mere story which is short. A true short story differs from the novel chiefly in its essential unity of impression. In a far more exact and precise use of the word, a short story has unity as a novel cannot have it. Often, it may be noted by the way the short story fulfils the three false unities of the French classic drama: it shows one action, in one place, on one day. A short story deals with a single character, a single event, and a single situation. The short story is the single effect, complete and self-contained, while the novel is of necessity broken into a series of episodes. Thus, the short story has what a novel cannot have -the effect of totality, as Poe called it, ‘the unity of impression’. The short story is not only not a chapter out of a novel or an incident or an episode extracted from a longer tale, but at its best it impresses the reader with the belief that it would be spoiled if it were made larger, or if it were incorporated into a more elaborate work. It may be said that no one has ever succeeded as a writer of short stories who had not ingenuity, originality, and compression, and that most who have succeeded in this line had also the touch of fantasy.

The main aim or technique of a short story therefore, is to produce a single narrative effect with the greatest economy of means that is consistent with the utmost emphasis.

The short story as said earlier has a single narrative effect. A narrative effect necessarily involves the three elements of action, character, and setting. In aiming to produce a narrative effect, the short story, therefore, differ from the sketch, which may concern itself with only one of these elements without involving the other two. The sketch most often deals with character or setting divested of the element of action, but in the short story, something has to happen. Short stories, therefore, may be divided into three classes, according to the effect which they wish to produce: is it primarily an effect of action, or of character, or of setting.

Summarily, the short story is a work of prose fiction, and most of the terms for analyzing the component elements, the types, and the various narrative techniques of the novel are applicable to the short story as well. The short story differs from the anecdote – the single and unelaborated narration of a single incident – in that it organizes the action, thought, and interactions of its characters into the artful pattern of a plot. As in the novel, the plot form may be comic, tragic, romantic, or satiric. The story is presented to us from one of many available points-of-view, and it may be written in the mode of fantasy, realism or naturalism. The authors of the short story often use symbols and recurring images to help convey the ideas. This can take the form of personification. These are called narrative figures.

1.7 LITERATURE REVIEW

Obasola, cited in Dopamu (2003, 201) posits that the need for morality in the society has assumed a wider dimension especially in its relationship with the religious, political and economic related issues. This portends that the quest for morality is an indispensable fact of human existence. It will suffice to note that morality is not an abstract phenomenon but a real practical means of developing the sense of justice in the people as a prerequisite for social solidarity, welfare and happiness in the society. Thus, morality is so crucial, not only to the individual, but also to the society at large.

The imperative of morality, therefore, is to establish the justifiability of an action, whether an action is well motivated or comprehensible. Hence, the hallmark of morality in any human society is to regulate those spheres of human life and conduct which no other aspect of human endeavor can curtail. It also regulates the personal and interpersonal relationships of people within an established social milieu thereby paving the way for social harmony, which engenders socio-political development.

Consequently, the development of persons – socially, politically, economically, and so on; will be incomplete without the ‘guiding light of morality’.

Therefore, any human organization where morality is extricated from the body polity will inexplicably lead to perdition.

Obasola states further that ethics and morality are used interchangeably. In other words, they are used as synonyms. Ethics, as such, has been defined as,

The branch of philosophy that is concerned with

what is morally good and bad, right and wrong.

In the same vein, ethics considers social forms

and institutions from the point-of-view of

their completeness and coherence as expressions

of human nature. It asks whether the social

life is the best or the only life for a human soul.

(Hastings, 415)

Adewale (1997, 72) defines religion as,

The means of communion and communication

between the human and super human beings,

between the sensible and the super-sensible,

between the finite and the infinite, between

the visible and the invisible, in one word,

between man and God.

Religion is an intrinsic aspect of every human life and it forms the essential bed-rock upon which people’s moral and social obligations are based.

Richardson (1948, 125) claims that morality is a product of religion. It is God who puts in people the sense of what is right and what is wrong, thereby bringing about the sense of obligation. This is clearly stressed by Alan Richardson when he states that,

The sense of obligation to do that which is

believed to be right is, infact, the pressure

of God upon every human life.

Brunner (1947) and Barth (1938) corroborate and support the concept of morality by Alan Richardson. This means that morality is indeed the idea of God, who has imbued people with the consciousness of distinguishing right actions from wrong ones. Therefore, we assert that morality and religion are two sides of a coin and one cannot be divorced from the other.

In Wikipedia, however, the idea that morality can be divorced from religion is dealt with by several prominent scholars as well as more popular culture – based writers. But the idea remains in the realm of a debate. Several figures from religious traditions have stated that while the non-religious can and do act morally, the idea of morality and abstract standards of good and evil cannot exist without some kind of religious components. For example, Irish–born British academic and writer C.S Lewis’s argument in Mere Christianity that if a supernatural, objective standard of right and wrong does not exist outside of the natural world, then right and wrong becomes mired in the is-ought difficulty. Thus, he wrote that preferences for one moral standard over another become as inherently indefensible and arbitrary as preferring a certain flavour of food over another or choosing to drive on certain side of a road.

In Google, Irfan Hussain (2010), an Islamic scholar in his article ‘Morality and Atheism’, has cited an array of facts and figures to assert his point that despite rising agnostic or atheistic trends in secular Europe, those societies demonstrate better standards of morality as opposed to corrupt and decadent religious societies. This proves, according to Hussain, that there exists no direct link between religion and morality, and that atheism as opposed to religion, is equally moral, if not more.

Most thinkers regardless of their Western or oriental affiliations, assent to the fact that the human being is morally neutral, with both the capacity to do good and the instinct to commit evil. This inherent moral neutrality emphasizes the importance of external influences; surroundings and milieu which will in large part determine whether the individual exercises his will to enact good or evil. The surah that supports this explanation is the Qur’an in Surah Shams : ‘And indeed he has aspired it (the human self) with evil and with God consciousness (or goodness)’. The verse after this states : ‘Indeed, he is successful who has purified it (from evil)’.

The necessity of this act of purification to restrain the evil impulse and the importance of the social milieu to facilitate the process through external stimuli is central to the Islamic understanding. As the human being is capable of destruction and harm for selfish ends, he needs to be reined in through the presence of social institutions that guard the moral values and the inner moral imperative that comes from belief. Mr. Hussain asserts the preposterousness of the fear of punishment and the incentive or reward as the basis of morality, believing morality has a scientific and logical basis. The need and desire for retributive justice, thus goes deep within the concept of morality and religion. In other words, being good is sensible as it helps maximize happiness and minimize suffering, and the system ought to ensure this, so that people make the rational choice to behave morally.

SALMAN RUSHDIE: THE CONTROVERSIAL WRITER

Rushdie has come under criticism as a writer, especially of The Satanic Verses, that generated crisis. Even before the publication of The Satanic Verses, his books stoked controversy. Rushdie himself saw his role as a writer ‘as including the function of antagonist of the state’.

Vehement protest against Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses began with the title itself (especially as translated into Arabic), which Muslims found incredibly sacrilegious, and took to mean the book’s author claimed the verses of the Qur’an, in fact the whole book, was ‘the work of the Devil’. The title refers to an alleged incident in the ministry of the Prophet Muhammad when a few verses were supposedly spoken by Muhammad as part of the Qur’an and then subsequently withdrawn on the grounds that the devil had sent them, deceiving Muhammad into thinking they came from God.

Rushdie recalls the days when activism among minority groups in Britain was largely secular Asian left politics and he reacts to the different reactions of the Muslim societies by stating that what happened in response to The Satanic Verses demonstrated the beginning of a new era, (Wikipedia).

Rushdie believes that it would be vain to say that he stimulated the rise of Islamic radicalism, but he was the prefix that they (the Islamic community) found. He believes what happened with The Satanic Verses helped into a religious discourse.

Salman Rushdie’s ‘The Prophet’s Hair’ is a short story that explores religion. The story is a moral fable in the tradition of The Thousand and One Nights and a magic realist extravaganza, packed with incident, poetic details, and humor, all brilliantly interwoven at breakneck speed.

JOHN UPDIKE: AUTHOR OF RABBIT, RUN

Updike’s Rabbit, Run is one of his novels that generated controversy. Updike has recorded success and got to the peak of his career working at ‘The New Yorker’, his dream job, writing ‘Talk of the Town’ items, short stories and poems but was dogged by controversies in his writing.

A crisis came in 1959, when his publisher, Alfred A. Knoff urged him to expurgate the explicit sex scenes in Rabbit, Run his first major novel. A story of adultery, it was daring at a time when American courts were still deciding if Lady Chatterley’s Lover D.H Lawrence’s long – suppressed novel, should be considered obscene. Within a few years obscenity standards relaxed and Updike restored the original language, carefully pasting typed insertions in the margins of an early printed edition preserved in the Houghton archive. Some of Updike’s last letters, written when his two sons and two daughters were grown, weigh the painful cost those closest to him paid for his high ambition and his remorseless work habits; success brought compromises. Eventually, sexual adventure, often rendered with graphic directness would become a staple of Updike’s fiction, as his mission to record the protestant ethics met the upheavals of the sexual resolution.

The formalist theory adopted for critical analysis is described by Wellek (1971) as a movement in Russian literary circle which dates back to 1916-1935. The criticism is concerned with the nature of literature and literary craft, rather than with its sociology. The school focuses on the art of literature, which is described a process of ‘automatisation’. According to the formalists, literature ‘creates a reality of its own and it must avoid, at all cost a confusion of realms with life, reality and history’. The idea of formalism was born in France in 1833, Edgar Allan Poe picked up the idea and Charles Baudlaire was its proponent.

The other schools of formalism are: The New Criticism, Russian Formalism and Structuralism. The New Criticism is a 20th century movement in the American literary criticism. The movement emphasizes that a literary work is autonomous from culture, sociology and biography.

The New Criticism tried to displace content in literary analysis and, therein, to treat a work’s form in a manner analogous to empirical research. The Russian formalism began in 1915 and the formalists sought to move away from the nineteenth century romantic attitudes in criticism and to avoid all romantic notions about poetic inspiration, genius or aesthetic organism. Instead, these formalists adopted a deliberately mechanistic view of poetry and other literary art as the product of craft, (David and Schleifer, 1989, 21).

Eagleton (1989) opines that structuralism grew out of Russian formalism. The school of structuralism felt that ‘structure’ does more justice to the totality of the work of art and is less weighed down by suggestions of externality that ‘form’ carries.

The pure formalist criticism is adopted for the critical analysis of the work. The elements the formalists use in critically examining literary work will be used to develop the theme of morality in the course of this research. These elements include – theme, plot, characterization, language, setting, structure and other rhetorical devices.

 

religion and morality in john updike’s ‘a&p’ and salman rushdie’s ‘the prophet’s hair

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