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Transcript

Literature PBL

By JT Erickson

How do authors use parallels with Christ to create and enhance their characters?

Research Question

Claim

Claim: Authors use parallels with Christ to help create complex and relatable characters, to evoke empathy and sympathy, and to help universalize the narrative, this helps readers understand the character better, no matter their background.

The Lord of

THE Rings

The Grand

Inquisitor

The

Metamorphosis

Texts Chosen

Franz Kafka

Fyodor Dostoevsky

J.R.R Tolkien

The Metamorphosis

"Gregor, in contrast, had become much calmer. True, his wounds still hurt, but he no longer paid any attention to them. They had made him so irritable that he had even thrown his apple against the wall, and it had burst and smeared the wall with juice. He wiped it off with his quilt, as if he wanted to remove all traces of the senseless damage he had just done. 'You just lie low,' said Gregor to himself, and gazed in a dark and confused way at his guilt and helplessness."

In this passage, Gregor Samsa's suffering and self-reflection can be interpreted as a parallel to Christ's suffering and sacrifice. Gregor's transformation has made him a more complex character, and his inner turmoil and sense of guilt evoke empathy and sympathy from the readers. This parallel also helps universalize the narrative by tapping into themes of suffering and sacrifice that resonate with a wide range of readers, regardless of their religious or cultural backgrounds.

The Grand Inquisitor

"So that nothing could be clear and plain to the unfortunate men; and even if he does the thing on purpose and out of kindness, it is still no good to them, as it was no good to the old man, in the parable, to be healed and taken up. ...He longed to forgive them, to make a truce with the inevitable, to live, if he could, under ground."

In this quote, the parallel between the Grand Inquisitor's actions and Christ's actions is evident. The Grand Inquisitor, like Christ, grapples with complex moral and ethical questions, and his actions and intentions can evoke empathy and sympathy from readers. The parable also serves to universalize the narrative by exploring the timeless theme of the tension between individual freedom and the desire for security and comfort, making it relatable to a wide audience.

The Grand Inquisitor

"So that nothing could be clear and plain to the unfortunate men; and even if he does the thing on purpose and out of kindness, it is still no good to them, as it was no good to the old man, in the parable, to be healed and taken up. ...He longed to forgive them, to make a truce with the inevitable, to live, if he could, under ground."

In this quote, the parallel between the Grand Inquisitor's actions and Christ's actions is evident. The Grand Inquisitor, like Christ, grapples with complex moral and ethical questions, and his actions and intentions can evoke empathy and sympathy from readers. The parable also serves to universalize the narrative by exploring the timeless theme of the tension between individual freedom and the desire for security and comfort, making it relatable to a wide audience.

"I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you."

The Lord of the Rings

This quote encapsulates Sam's willingness to bear not only the physical burden of the One Ring but also the emotional and moral burdens of his friend. His devotion to Frodo and his determination to help him succeed in their quest make him a character with whom readers can empathize and sympathize. While not a direct Christ parallel, Sam's character embodies the qualities that contribute to the complexity and relatability of a character and the universal themes of friendship and selflessness in the narrative.

"It is clear that Tolkien wanted readers to focus on Saruman's use of language since he entitles the chapter in which Saruman finally appears 'The Voice of Saruman.' Here, when the victorious forces of the West finally confront the beaten Saruman in his tower of Orthanc, Gandalf warns his companions that 'Saruman has powers you do not guess. Beware of his voice!' While some readers have interpreted Gandalf's warning as an indication that Saruman is capable of casting a verbal spell that might hypnotize his listeners and so move them through supernatural powers, Tolkien very clearly rejected that view. Saruman's voice was not hypnotic but persuasive."

Gale Literature: The voice of Saruman: wizards and rhetoric in The Two Towers

"In J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy a hobbit named Frodo Baggins is entrusted with a ring, the “One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them” (Tolkien 49)."

Frodo Baggins: The Modern Parallel to Christ in Literature

"However, while these two institutions may have complemented each other, they were never equals, and the relationship remained, for much of their shared histories, an uneasy one. The worth of literature was heavily dependent on aligning itself with the faith's truth claims."

LIT CRIT Quotes

Introduction: incarnations of Christ in twentieth-century fiction

This quote highlights the dynamic between literature and Christianity, suggesting that literature often drew on Christian themes and narratives but had to navigate an uneasy relationship with the faith's truth claims. This tension between the two institutions underscores the complexity of characters and narratives that incorporate Christ-like parallels, making them relatable to a diverse audience and evoking empathy and sympathy regardless of readers' backgrounds.

The quote highlights how the parallels between Frodo Baggins and Jesus Christ in "The Lord of the Rings" contribute to creating complex characters, evoking empathy and sympathy from readers, and universalizing the narrative. Frodo's mission to destroy the One Ring resembles Christ's mission to save humanity, and this shared sense of responsibility adds depth to their characters. This parallel allows readers, regardless of their background, to empathize with Frodo's burdens and moral dilemmas. Furthermore, by drawing on the universally recognized archetype of a selfless and sacrificial hero, the story becomes more inclusive and speaks to human values and struggles that transcend cultural and religious boundaries.

LIT CRIT Analysis

This quote illustrates how Tolkien used Saruman's persuasive rhetoric as a central element of his character, invoking the notion of "The Voice of Saruman." It showcases how authors like Tolkien employ parallels with Christ to create compelling characters (in this case, Gandalf and Saruman), highlight the power of persuasive language, and elicit emotional and intellectual responses from readers. The warning about "The Voice of Saruman" suggests the character's ability to persuade and manipulate through language, contributing to the character's complexity and the reader's engagement.