On Genesis, Crucifixition, Resurrection and Science in Literature

The treatment of religion in three of the novels we have encountered this semester—Brave New World, The Island of Dr. Moreau, and Oryx and Crake—is similar in that these novels contain semi-allegorical or symbolic representations of stories from the Christian Bible, specifically, the story of genesis, the crucifixion and the resurrection. To some extent, the use of characterization and plot which lends to these religious associations trivializes Christian beliefs. Religion seems to be presented as a contrast to science, genetic manipulation, and technology, although these topics are not mutually exclusive.

The connection between genesis and the creation presented in Brave New World is less explicit then in The Island of Dr. Moreau and Oryx and Crake. Still, a connection may be drawn between The Controller’s use of Bokanovsky’s process to create life, which does not draw from the process of pregnancy and birth form the womb of a woman, and the Christian belief in the birth of man through the power of a larger, external force, which also replaces this biological process. The parallel between Christ and The Savage is more explicit. The Savage represents a Christ-figure who comes as a messiah to civilization, in that he preaches radically perceived ideas from very different literature than the masses have been exposed to. His self-flagellation has religious connotations, as the practice of self mutilation through whipping is often associated with religious ascetics or heretics. His self-flagellation may be equated on a more allegorical level to the pain and abuse Christ suffered when he was crucified.

In the Island of Dr. Moreau the connection to these religious stories is more specific. Dr. Moreau presents his own story of Genesis: he creates the beast-men in the image of man, shaping them with his own hands and giving them new life in human form with human intelligence. Their existence on the Island of Dr. Moreau and their struggle in The House of Pain reflects the Old Testament, during which time God frequently punished men on earth. Prendick in this case is the Christ-figure, as he comes to the Island and delivers the beast-men from the House of Pain. Here, a parallel may be drawn to Christ as a messiah, who Christian’s believe freed man of the pain of the old testament by alleviating them of their sins through his own death and resurrection. Prendick also contributes to Dr. Moreau’s God-status as he tells the Beast people that, like a god, Dr. Moreau exists in the sky above them, where he watches over them.

In Oryx and Crake, Crake represents the God-figure and Snowman represents the Christ-figure. Crake is the creator of the Crakers, and Snowman, the figure who delivers Crake’s word to the Crakers, serves as a religious leader to the Crakers. Perhaps it is funny to assign symbolic value to Crake because in Crake’s project, “They would have no need to invent any harmful symbolisms, such as kingdom, icons, gods, or money.” But still, Crake’s ideas—The Pill and the Paradice Project— aimed at creating immortality, and then, creating a new race, reflects a certain degree of religious symbolism. The Crakers later construction of an ephigy, chanting, and worship of Oryx, Crake and Snowman, adds complexity to this religious framework, as does Snowman’s own appeal to the sky in the final pages of the novel.

It seems clear that Huxley, Wells and Atwood intended deliberately through the use of plot and characterization to create religious associations and imply parallels to these elements of the Bible. By extending my interpretation and labeling figures within these novels as God-figures and Christ-figures, and by specifically drawing an allegorical connection to the story of genesis, the crucifixion and the resurrection, I have created a personal interpretation that draws from the explicit and implicit references made by these authors, but that by no means is meant to state specifically the deliberate intentions of these authors. To some degree my interpretation suggests the triviality of the Christian faith, as religious elements and stories in these novels are retold for the control of the masses. In this sense, the fact that Snowman communicates to Crake through his watch is comical, as it trivializes many religious beliefs that involve communicating with God. Of course, the beauty of these books falls in their ability to encourage multiple connections and parallels, and to form many interpretations, all of which could be grounded in some kind of religious framework, but could be of a very different nature then my own. The novelists meant to force readers to question the age-old tennets of religion in contrast to modern possibilities of science that challenge these beliefs.

In my opinion, the brain specimens of these writers are clearly RejoovenEsense material, that is to say, genius.

Elizabeth Frankenfield

~ by lizfrank on March 16, 2008.

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