Morality has come to be a term to serve a relative purpose. Relative in the sense that the appreciation of the term morality has more often than not depended on the circumstances and what people may view or perceive to be moral. The two literary works subject of this paper are: Faerie Queen Book II by Edmund Spenser and In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.
It is worth noting that these two literary works are of different nature and subject. Still like all literary works and like all things that include human actions and involve human events.
The object of morality though not emphatically stressed is being presented. The object of morality although not the main subject in any literary work can be examined. Through the series of acts that transpire throughout the story and the manner in which the author has decided to present them. The two literary works subject of this paper are independent of each other. One is contemporary while the other is a story from older times. A lot of differences can be gleaned upon careful examination of these two literary works.
The most important difference however that this paper will seek to address is their difference in their presentation of morality and the kind of morality presented. In The “Faerie Queen Book II” the object and presentation of morality deals more with morality in the form of a quest. It presents morality involved in one’s quest he takes in life. Particularly on how one can rise above the occasion or on how one is able to succeed. The object of morality in the “Faerie Queen Book II” is more evident in the decision making of its protagonists.
The literary work “In Cold Blood” has a different object and method of presentation of morality. In this literary work the main object of morality is the sanctity and value of life and the consequences of taking life away from someone. To be more specific it deals with morality in a setting where a crime of murder has been committed.
This paper will proceed to compare the object and presentation of morality for both literary works. Through such comparison this paper will be able to discuss the representation of morality in both literary works. Representation of Morality will always be an integral part of any literary work (Thesis Statement).
Faerie Queen Book II
This literary masterpiece focuses on Book II of a series of VI books written by Edmund Spenser. Book II deals mostly on the quests and adventures of one of the main protagonists Guyon and the side stories of different characters like Arthur. This paper will not proceed to summarize the said book. Instead the parts where morality has been represented will be highlighted. This is in keeping with the very purpose of this paper. There are several verses in which the presentation of morality can be gleaned:
“But if that careless hevens,” (quoth she) “despise
The doome of just revenge, and take delight
To see sad pageaunts of mens miseries,
As bownd by them to live in lives despight;
Yet can they not warne death from wretched right.
Come, then; come soone; come sweetest death, to me,
And take away this long lent loathed light:
Sharpe be thy wounds, but sweete the medicines be,
That long captivated soules from weary thraldome free.
(Page 267, The Faerie Queene Book II, Edmund Spenser)
The verse as cited above depicts the kind of representation of morality the “Faerie Queen Book II” shows us. As earlier contended the morality in this book is presented through the decisions made by the characters in such book.
Here we can clearly see the casual surrender of one’s fate. A decision to surrender one’s fate represents the kind of morality this book wants to come across. Morality is represented through this decision making in which one surrenders to death. This representation of morality may not be acceptable to us since surrendering to death has never been moral. Still, the book tries to justify the same through showing us the difficult circumstances such character is in.
The concept of virtue in this book is surrendered to the heavens. Morality in this book was not clearly defined or presented. It does not provide whether one act prove to be moral or not. It allows the decision of morality be adjudged by its readers. Throughout the book which follows the quest of Guyon and other characters like Arthur. The representation of morality is made through their acts, decisions and emotions on the events that transpire in their journey. Morality here is presented through stimulating the audience or readers leaving them to decide whether one act was moral or not.
In Cold Blood
“In Cold Blood” is a story of murder committed by Dick and Perry and their eventual attempt to escape justice through leaving. The morality presented in this literary work is one of more serious tone. The morality, as presented in this book is the sanctity of human life and the consequences one must take when they decide to take away life or in more common terms: commit murder. Murder for a long time is a concept that can easily be considered as an immoral act and it is indeed an immoral act. Unlike “Faerie Queen Book II” In cold blood is more factual in tone.
The manner of its presentation is through a series of events that transpired. It is the more common contemporary type of story telling. The presentation of morality has been embedded in the way the story was told. Unlike the “Faerie Queen Book II” what is moral and what is not moral is more clearly depicted in this story.
If in the “Faerie Queen Book II” morality was vague and one left to be adjudged by the readers. The contrary applies to the literary work “In Cold Blood”. The latter book specifically provides that a murder was committed and that it was immoral, it was wrong and it was a crime punishable by law. Clear indications were made as to the presentation of morality. This can be clearly seen through the statements made in the book:
“Feeling wouldn’t run half so high if this had happened to anyone except the Clutters. Anyone less admired. Prosperous. Secure. But that family represented everything people hereabouts really value and respect, and that such a thing could happen to them – well, it’s like being told there is no God. It makes life seem pointless. I don’t think people are so much frightened as they are deeply depressed.” (In Cold Blood, Truman Capote)
As clearly gleaned from the words of the book cited above a more definite and specific feeling of morality is expressed in this book. The representation of morality is much more obvious and emphasized that that of the “Faerie Queen Book II”. The morality in taking away life was not only for the murder. There was also an instance where the morality of taking the life of the murderers was mentioned:
“Dewey had watched them die, for he had been among the twenty-odd witnesses invited to the ceremony. He had never attended an execution, and when on the midnight past he entered the cold warehouse, the scenery had surprised him: he had anticipated a setting of suitable dignity, not this bleakly lighted cavern cluttered with lumber and other debris. But the gallows itself, with its two pale nooses attached to a crossbeam, was imposing enough; and so, in an unexpected style, was the hangman, who cast a long shadow from his perch on the platform at the top of the wooden instrument’s thirteen steps.” (In Cold Blood, Truman Capote)
Though the morality of taking the lives of the murderers was evident not even a place of suitable dignity was presented. Clearly defining what is moral and what is not.
In conclusion, in any literary work a sense of representation of morality is and will always be deemed written. The representation of morality may differ through it object and representation. Still as long as human acts are involved, as long as we deal with the event of one person’s life, morality will always be an object of any literary work. To date presentation of morality is relative for every literary work. Still, though seemingly impossible. A day may come when the relativity of the presentation of morality will be erased and a basic standard of morality just for everyone can be shared by all.
Spenser’s Faerie Queene Book II, Edited by Thomas J, Wise, Pictured by Walter Crane
In Cold Blood, Truman Capote
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