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Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis is a novel that offers much insight into the culture of mid-20th century Crete where the novel was set. Along with the culture of this era, this novel demonstrated many of the philosophical beliefs of different portions of the populations of Cretans at this time. Through the interactive oral presentation, understanding of the context and culture as well as the literary value of the novel has been enhanced considerably. During the interactive oral, the presenters were able to isolate two main topics to discuss that augmented our understanding of the novel: the treatment of women and the disputes between beliefs: existentialism vs.
The first point discussed was the treatment of woman of the era by the men. Woman at this time were seen as lost sheep in need of someone to guide them. They were thought to be incapable of intelligent thought and were therefore believed to act only out of passion oppose to actual thought.
Since the men believed this, women were oppressed by society, and by their husbands. Women did not have nearly the same number of rights as men and could often only receive jobs as servants.
The second point discussed was the disputes between the existentialism and religious beliefs. The majority of men being religious thought that the true importance of life would be to live honestly by the religious code presented to them and to have ambitions and goals in live. This was contrasted by the main characters beliefs of existentialism.
This is the belief that someone should live in the moment and for themselves. Many of the flaws in religion were exposed through this contrast. For example: religions’ unsuccessful attempt to find a reason for everything in the universe; as well as religions’ inability to truly make people happy with their ambitions and their following of god. The existentialists, by living in the moment, without goals, did what made them happy oppose to what their religion told them was “right.”
Through the discussion of these two topics: the treatment of women and the disputes between existentialism and religion, the presenters of the interactive oral were successfully able to enhance my contextual understanding of the novel as well as enrich my knowledge of the Cretan culture of the 20th century in relation to the novel.
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