The Holy Hypocrisy Of A Humble Hamlet

964 words - 4 pages

From impassioned religious groups giving disaster victims much-needed relief to over-zealous soldiers sparring in the Thirty Years’ War, religion brings out both the best and the worst in humanity. As an alumnus from a Catholic school for gifted students, Gabriel Garcia Marquez understands the different behaviors religion can invoke, and he used this knowledge in his book Chronicle of a Death Foretold. In this novel, published in 1981, Marquez explores how a small village utilizes religion to fulfill its own goals despite the potential outcomes. The inhabitants’ veneration of purity, Santiago Nasar’s violent murder, and the bishop’s arrival all reinforce this negative view towards religion.
The importance the townspeople place on Angela’s purity illustrates how the village uses religion to reinforce its preexisting beliefs. Catholicism holds pre-marital virginity in high regard, as seen in the various statues of the Virgin Mary in cities around Latin America. Likewise, Latin American culture, with its machismo idea that men must protect defenseless women, also places value on a potential bride’s purity. At first, Angela thinks little about the potential consequences of having lost her virginity when her friends scandalously instruct her to act natural, as “most men came to their wedding night so frightened that they were incapable of doing anything” (Marquez 38). Sadly for Angela, Bayardo values having an untainted bride too much to look the other way, so he “grabbed her by the arm and brought her into the light [to return her to] Pura Vicario” (46). Despite spending months wooing Angela and bundles of pesos buying wedding decorations, Bayardo throws his hard work away simply because cultural norms and religious beliefs threaten his dignity and honor. Yet the most potent example of the town’s viewpoints toward virginity, perspectives that Catholicism reinforces, occurs when Pura Vicario “beat me with…such rage that I thought she was going to kill me” (46). A stanch believer of the verse concerning sexual morality in Corinthians 6:18, Pura Vicario does not hesitate to harm her daughter physically for defiling her body before marriage. As seen with Angela’s ordeal, the townspeople negatively use religion to justify preexisting cultural ideals.
Yet in their haste to protect their sister’s honor, the twins do not hesitate to overlook the Ten Commandments in their quest to murder Santiago Nasar. Disregarding the idea “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” the twins immediately resolve to kill Santiago Nasar for taking their sister’s virginity, even though they have no definitive proof of his culpability (Exodus 20:13). Here, they ignore the Christianity’s tenets to fulfill their own established cultural beliefs, proving how the twins selectively neglect one Biblical teaching involving murder in exchange for following another, less important teaching involving sexual purity. Even the method of the murder itself demonstrates the twins’ selective sense of religious...

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