Monday, November 17, 2014
The Adultery in Literature
The kingdom of God on Earth
Adultery has remained a central theme in many popular and controversial novels of the world literature. The characters like Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary, Connie Reid (Lady Chatterley's Lover) and Hester Prynne (The Scarlet Letter) suffered the curse of felony and remain miserable, while male characters when they commit adultery, they enjoy a passionate life without much guilt and society forgives their stray behavior easily.
The chastity of woman has always been considered as a prized jewel by the society, and the dignity and status of such woman is far superior to the woman who is tempted by passions. The Seventh Commandment forbids adultery, but the Tenth Commandment goes one step ahead and even forbids the desire of it.
Many a time and in many culture women was considered as property and her capability to progenration made her indispensable asset. Why society had a softer attitude towards crime of adultery done by men?. If a gross generalization is done male committed adultery with a prostitute and females with some friend or relative (mostly of her husband). So there is a degree of moral degradation in the crime, as to whom the crime was committed. Princess Diana was known to have several extra-marital affairs, some of them are still secret, and many of them are open secret like with James Hewitt, James Gilbey, Barry Mannakee, Oliver Hoare Bryan Adams and Dodi Fayed who were bodyguard or billionaire she did not care. Despite this fact, she was very popular amongst masses.
Remember how Bill Clinton who first denied having sex with Monica Lewinsky later on confessed an 'inappropriate' relationship with her before the Grand Jury. Moreover the charges of perjury and obstruction of justice were dropped against him. The Americans (including his wife) forgave him, at least publicly.
Now these instances of two advance countries of the World, One of which once ruled the world and other is contemporary ruler (in one way or another), it is clear that society has given a ' clean chit '.
Literature is the reflection of society. Human nature across the boundaries of the nation is same, so when an author writes a book the description may help with the orientation, but the objective to understand the human nature is fulfilled only when and if the author wants you to like a character you like it, and he wants you to dislike, you dislike. So even if the main character is a sinner like Anna of Tolstoy the reader is sentimentally attached to her and feels a loss of dearest friend when she finally threw herself before a train.
Man is polygamous by nature and woman is monogamous or the entire race of Homo Sapiens is polygamous is a debatable issue, but it is sure two persons are sometimes so spontaneously 'hooked up' with each other that it would be a crime to keep them apart. Only goose is truly monogamous in nature. It will never cheat on its spouse, and even when its partner dies, it will not seek a new mate. And who does the moral policing for a goose?
Women are more "like nature' than "like culture' and hence they have 'concreteness' in comparisons to 'abstractness' of their partner. So while describing a woman character, even if she is an adulteress, she may have that modesty, dignity and pride that a chaste woman has.
Neither author nor the reader has a right to condemn a spouse because what they are doing is sinful. Even the partner of the spouse should not be judgmental and should only exercise his right to decide if he wants to continue the relationship or break it.
Remember, the epitaph on the grave of Tomas, in 'Unbearable lightness of being ' written by his catholic son, reads "He wanted the Kingdom of God on Earth".
So Be It.
© Vipin Behari Goyal