Shame and Guilt

Consider how criticism might engage with race and religion (through two texts)

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Race and religion can form vital parts of any play or novel; history has proved that tension, be it through different religions/ races of people, has stirred up many conflicts. In this essay, I will refer to two texts namely ‘The Jew of Malta’ by Christopher Marlowe and ‘The Heart of Darkness’ by Joseph Conrad. I would like to show how criticism can engage from a story and that we can see the undertones of the text that shows racial and religious streams of thought and action. These narratives both show the act of colonialism/countries powers, which are true accounts of the Christian colonizers and the Turkish Siege of Malta as well as King Leopold and the Belgium Congo.

The Jew of Malta – Christopher Marlowe

Initially, The Jew of Malta resonates with themes of religious tension, which was a parallel to the time, in the sixteenth century. There were not many Jews in England during this time. Jews in England secretly practiced. Many Jews who were born into the Jewish faith either converted or pretended to be Christians. Criticism can be pointed not only towards the non-secular people in England but also where this play tries to deal with the anti-semitic feeling that was rife throughout the whole of Europe. The Jewish people did not believe in Christianity, so they were a threat to social order. English Protestants felt that Jews were outsiders as well as Muslims and Catholics. Marlowe forces the reader to re-examine the factors that were the start of internationalism. It makes the reader comment about the internal affairs at that time. The subject of commerce and internationalism had a role in the unfolding drama that could be equal to the effects of antisemitism.

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Shame and Guilt Culture

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For this essay, the aspect of culture that will be talked about is the notion of shame and guilt. In many countries, each culture and the people within it adopt a way of dealing with wrong behavior. The emphasis here is on how an individual person reacts to an action done by them which is seen as not being right in their society. The essay will show with examples how shame and guilt work in daily life. It will focus on types of behavior, attitudes, and beliefs that are installed in culture. It is actually written specifically for individuals to think about their behavior and to think if their wrong actions belong to a guilt culture or shame culture. It is also written for each person to think more about their behavior when they commit something wrong and how they should behave.

Shame and guilt sometimes are considered to be similar feelings while within different cultures and countries they become separate entities when you can look closer at people’s behavior. For example, if a person was driving along the road and they saw a red light, they should stop, but in this case they continued through that light even though they had time to stop. How would they feel? In a shame culture, the person would (not in every case) look around to see if anyone saw them. If no-one saw them and nothing happened, they would be unperturbed and drive away thus not really having a feeling of doing anything wrong. In a guilt culture, if the same action happened, the driver would still look around, but they would feel remorse that they did something wrong thus producing a feeling of guilt. The feeling of guilt then becomes an inner feeling. It is as if they know they did wrong, and they are punishing themselves for it because they know what is right. The feeling of shame in this case, there is none, because in this situation no external force (such as police) saw the driver go through the traffic lights. There is no feeling for that person because the police did not catch them, speak to them and give them a ticket/fine.

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