Lundi 2 juillet 1 02 /07 /Juil 11:21

Defined  as  a  behavior  involving  physical  or  emotional  force  or  energy  intended  to  hurt,
damage, kill or harm, violence appears in Graham Greene’s trilogy as a theme of paramount
importance  since  it  shows  the  outcome  and  importance  of  human  acts.  The  theme  of
violence appears to be the common denominators of the novels The Power and the Glory,
the Heart of the Matter and Brighton Rock and is noticed through different ways: physical,
psychological, emotional and so on.
The novel The Power and the Glory was written in a time where there were war between the
Church  and  State  in  Mexico  and  that  is  what  explains  the  importance  of  the  theme  of
violence in that novel. The novel thoroughly depicts different kind of violence among which
one can cite:
Being written in war time, the novel The Power and the Glory was meant to deal with the
theme  of  violence.  Thus,  even  before  going  further  through  the  novel,  we  notice  the
depiction of violence at the very beginning of the novel with the priest main character of the
novel who attempted to flee to Vera Cruz, so as to escape the persecution that was going on
in Mexico and thus avoid his eventual murder. We notice at the first chapter of the novel,
the presence of the theme of violence with Tench and the Whisky priest discussing about the
persecution and talking about the execution of a man named Lopez who helped the priests
to  escape  and  run  away,  and  who  have  been  shot  dead.  So,  as  we  can  notice,  violence
appears at the very beginning of the novel and occupies a great part of it. Even the playing of
the little children dealt with violence as Luis told his father, who wondered how Luis knew
about all these martyrs:
“We all of us play them. Yesterday I was Madero. They shot me in the plaza…”
The Mexican government by outlawing priesthood, wanted to rid the country from all priests
and such a thing could not be done without violent methods. Knowing full well that violence
was needed to reach the aim, the Lieutenant stated to the Jefe that he could easily catch the
remaining priest if he is allowed his ways which consisted of taking hostage in the villages
and then execute them if the inhabitants refused to tell him where were the priest. Hence
the woman said to the priest who ignored that practice:
“They are taking hostage now from all the villages where they think you’ve been. And
if  people  don’t  tell,  somebody  is  shot,  and  then  they  take  another  hostage.  It
happened in Concepcion”
  Thus,  the  priest  knowing  that  his  life  was  endangered  wanted  to  escape  the  violent
methods  of  the  lieutenant  who  considers  that  priests  are  much  more  harmful  than  bank
robbers  and  murderers.  Still  in  the  same  process,  we  see  that  violence  had  become  an
everyday life fact. Hence, Tench, the dentist who were supposed to heal people and prevent
their sufferings, said to the priest who was making some remarks on his window, that he
 “got it when they sucked the church”. 
However, in spite of the presence of violence at the very beginning of the novel, we notice
that one of the most violent characters of the novel is the Lieutenant who did not hesitate to
kill  innocent  people  in  his  attempt  to  catch  the  priest.  The  lieutenant  was  a  very  violent
person  even  though  his  intention  was  to  rid  the  country  from  all  that  was  corrupt,
superstitious  and  poor.  In  addition,  another  character  whose  violence  is  depicted  in  the
novel is the Gringo, described as a ruthless man who killed and even used innocent persons
as  human  shields.  Ironically,  we  notice  that  those  who  represented  the  incarnation  of
violence in the novel have gained a little relief before their deaths. Hence, the Gringo, in
spite of the presence of the Lieutenant received the last rites from the priest, whom the
lieutenant, seduced by his courage and sense of duty, allows his last wishes, but Padre Jose
was too coward to say such rites for his former fellow. For the Lieutenant, he has had what
he was after. Thus, the whisky priest because of his sense of duty was betrayed and then
shot dead. So, as we can notice, the theme of violence is of paramount importance in the
novel insofar as it gives account of the results of human acts.
Psychological  violence  appears  in  the  novel  at  the  very  beginning  with  the  priest  who
presents himself in a way that was not really priestly. He was drinking brandy to hide his fear
and had an appearance that was not priestly. Padre Jose however, rejected his faith out of
fear. Conscious that he would be carried out if he had kept his faith, Padre José loses his
credit by taking a wife and abandoning his priesthood because of the violent methods used
by the lieutenant, and even refused to shelter his former colleague out of fear by telling him:
 “I don't want martyr here”.
 He had never undergone violence, but it was something which were constantly present in
his  mind  and  that’s  what  explains  the  fact  that  he  refused  to  pray  for  the  rest  of  the
departed child by telling to his parents who were begging him to say the last rites: 
“Leave me alone…I am unworthy…can’t you see I am a coward”.
 In a larger sense, we notice that violence dominates the discussions in the novel. Thus, even
the story that Luis’ mother used to narrate to her children was about violence, the story of
young Juan who died as a martyr. In addition, we notice that even the church was not spared
as  can  illustrate  the  clever  murals  on  the  wall  of  the  party  hall  which  depicted  a  priest
caressing a woman in the confessional and another priest tippling the sacramental wine. In a
larger sense, we can say that violence was constantly present in the hearts of the peoples
insofar as the Lieutenant’s deeds had become an every day's life fact. 
In  the  novel  Brighton  Rock,  physical  violence  appears  mainly  through  Pinkie,  his  gang
members  and  the  rival  gang  led  by  Colleoni.  For  instance,  Pinkie  who  is  a  young  boy  of
seventeen years old is in the novel the responsible of two murders. The novel opens in a
state of suspense because of not knowing what will happen:
 “Hale knew that they meant to kill him three hours before he had been in Brighton”.
 Thus, the first sentence of the novel depicts the theme of violence in as much as it shows in
an implicit ways that someone had to be killed. Then, at the very beginning of the novel,
Pinkie’s  gang  killed  Hale  and  the  murder  was  taken  for  granted  to  be  a  natural  death.
However, the murder of Kite by Colleoni’s gang members which put Pinkie in the leadership
of the gang was not going to simplify things, and causes then on a relentless war between
the  two  rival  gangs.  In  this  way,  we  notice  throughout  the  novel,  killings,  intimidations,
attacks and counter-attacks, as can illustrates Pinkie’s visit to the races with Spicer when
both were attacked by Colleoni’s gang members. The fact also of keeping a bottle of vitriol
wherever he went and using it at any time to demonstrate its effects is indicative of Pinkie’s
sadism and violence that seem to have been innate since we notice that when he was a
school boy he used to bully the other children to show his strength and thus impose his way
of life. Hence, to intimidate Rose and prevents her from giving evidence:
 “He took the cork out and spilled a little on the wooden plank of the pier; it hissed like
steam…and he thrust the bottle under her nose.”
 Pinkie's  violence  can  also  be  noticed  when  he  was  cutting  the  legs  of  a  spider  to  find
whether or not the girl loved him. Moreover, violence was not only Pinkie and his gang's
deeds. Thus, we can also mention Colleoni's gang who acted ruthlessly and thus, killing Kite
with a razor blade. Colleoni's gang which was Pinkie's rival used violent methods to show
their  power,  hence  there  were  killings  and  retaliations  in  both  sides.  Besides,  the  use  of
some terms with violent connotation is very frequent in the novel (razor blades, vitriol, knife
etc.) as we can notice with Hale and the man who asked him if he was buying shoelaces,
razor blades or matches 
“Hale went by, the words lodged securely in his brain: the thought of the thin wound and
the sharpness of the agony. That was how Kite was killed.” 
This is to show the permanent presence of the theme of violence in the novel.
It appears mainly on Rose whom Pinkie marries in order to shut her. Rose having seen one
of Pinkie’s gang members Spicer in the wrong place at the wrong time, represented a threat
for Pinkie and his members. Thus, Pinkie fearing that Rose, who witnesses the murder by
Pinkie’s gang could denounce him, decided to marry her in order to buy her silence. He did
not feel any love for Rose, yet he married her for his own personal sake. Rose accepted
Pinkie as a husband out of fear; she was psychologically dominated by the relentless Pinkie
Brown. We also notice Ida’s attempt of freeing Rose from her dangerous husband was part
of the psychological combat insofar as she was aware of Pinkie’s violence and wanted to
save the innocent young waitress Rose as she told her 
“I want to see you’re safe”. 
But Rose, being psychologically under the domination of Pinkie did not think Ida could help
her, hence she replied: 
“I don’t want any help”. 
Even  when  Ida  came  close  to  her  she  rejected  her  out  of  fear  and  for  the  sake  of  her
“Keep your distance…keep away from me or I’ll scream”
 This  was  her  response  when  Ida  tried  to  help  her  and  this  shows  how  Rose  feared  her
husband. Pinkie’s violence impacted on her wife since the latter had decided out of fear to
marry a man whom, she knows had killed an innocent person and whom she too did not
love. This dire fear can be explained by Pinkie’s first meeting with Rose when he brought
with him a bottle vitriol which he considered 
“Scares a polony more than a knife” 
And when Rose asked him what had happened to the girl, he answered: 
“They spoilt her looks. She lost one eye. They splashed vitriol on her face.”
 This shows Pinkie’s sadism while giving account of his psychological violence and at the same
time explains Rose’s fear. Thus, as we can notice violence appears permanently in the novel and
thus each character was preparing for the matter, even Ida who represents in the novel the
character who embodies justice and fairness, was laying her plans as we can see in the third part
of the novel: 
“she  stared  out  over  the  red  and  green  lights,  the  heavy  traffic  of  her  battlefield,  laying
her  plans,  marshalling  her  cannon  fodder,  while  five  yards  away  Spicer  stood,  too,
waiting for an enemy to appear”.
 The constant presence of the theme of violence is better illustrated by the fact that at the end
of the second part of the novel, the narrator told us that the boy was ready for more deaths. We
notice further that when Pinkie died it was a kind of relief for Rose who told with sad conviction
to the priest that her husband was damned because he knew what he was about, and yet when
they married Rose did not really know him as we can notice when she was talking to her friend
“It’s not all that good, Maisie…sometimes he’s bad to me”
Set at the brink of the Second World War in Sierra Leone where the author worked for the Secret
Intelligence Service, the novel The Heart of the Matter was meant to deal with the theme of violence.
Major Henry Scobie, being the person who is supposed to assure the security of population and at
the same time the  one who controls diamond smuggling in the wharf, but also having to deal with
black marketers, he had in a manner or the other  to be violent or to witness it. However, in the
novel  the  first  manifestation  of  violence  appears  through  the  character  of  Mr.  Harris  who,  while
talking to Wilson, made some violent comments on the persons who were living there by stating:
 “I  hate  the  place.  I  hate  the  people.  I  hate  the  bloody  niggers.  Mustn’t  call  ‘em  that  you
This shows indeed another aspect of violence which is racism in as much as Mr. Harris despises these
people because of their color as we can notice in his description of these people 
“Look at that one with the feather boa down there. They aren’t even real niggers. Just West
Indians and they rule the coast clerks in the stores, city council, magistrate…”
 But as we can notice throughout the novel, physical violence was mainly depicted through the Wharf
Rats, described by the narrator as human breeds who were bullying the population of the wharf.
They are a ruthless group which embodies violence and meanness as the narrator told us:
 “The  rats  were  cowards  but  dangerous  boys  of  sixteen  or  so,  armed  with  razors  or  bits  of
broken bottles”,
 And we notice that even some police officers were afraid of them. Hence, when Scobie asked the
two officers if they had secured that way they replied:
 “Oh yes, sah, we just come from there”
 But as the narrator told us: 
“He knew they were lying: they would never go along to that end of the wharf, the playground
of the human rats, unless they had a white officer to guard them”.
  Moreover, we can say that the setting of the novel already announced the presence of violence
insofar  as  wharfs  are  very  often  cosmopolitan  places  where  people  of  different  culture  and
background  meet  and  the  cohabitation  is  not  always  peaceful  and  calm.  So,  as  we  can  notice,
violence was something present in the area as can illustrates the presence of the wharf rats that
killed major Scobie’s boy Ali for the sake of the Syrian merchant Yusef. 
As  emotional  force  or  energy  intended  to  hurt,  damage,  kill  or  harm,  psychological  violence  is
depicted in the novel the Heart of the Matter. It is first noticed through the main character of the
novel Scobie, whose long services have not been rewarded by his home country, which preferred to
send  a  man  younger  than  he  is  (Mr.  Baker  who  came  from  Gambia)  to  succeed  to  the  former
Commissioner at the expense of Scobie. This was considered as an injustice toward Scobie, even the
former Commissioner himself found it unjust and thus asked Scobie if he wanted to resign, retire or
transfer. In a larger sense, we notice that each time Scobie encountered an officer, he inquired for
news  to  know  whether  or  not  there  was  something  to  report;  and  each  times  something  was
reported. These injustices that Scobie suffered and which we consider as violent means used by his
home country impacted on his wife Louise who decided to go to South Africa. And since, Scobie could
not afford the transport fee; Louise indirectly forced him to accept the loan from the Syrian merchant
Yusef, a loan which appears to be the burden that will lead to his suicide. And yet, suicide has never
been an option for him as the narrator told us:
“…and then as he turned to look for a weapon or a rope, it suddenly occurred to him that this
was an act that he could never do. Suicide was for ever out of his power”.
 We  also  notice  through  the  character  of  Helen  Rolt  the  depiction  of  the  psychological  violence
insofar as Helen was a newly married woman who loses her husband in the shipwreck. This shows
how violent the situation was for these characters. Thus, we can state that psychological violence
was  mainly  noticed  through  the  characters  of  Pemberton,  whose  loan  he  could  not  repay  led  to
suicide, Scobie who thinks himself to be the responsible of Ali’s death and both Helen and Louise’s
unhappiness and who by the end will prefer eternal damnation to an unsuccessful life, Helen who
could not afford the luxury of living with the man he really loved and Louise who could not afford
composure in her neighborhood. Like this, we notice that the consequences of psychological violence
in the novel are much more harmful than physical violence since it triggers the death of Pemberton
and that of Scobie, while Louise and Helen were left with an uncertain fate. 
 As we can notice violence is the common denominator in Graham Greene’s religious trilogy insofar
as each of the novels deals with the theme. The settings of the novels accounts for the presence of
the theme hence, The Power and the Glory is set in time of war between Church and State, Brighton
Rock sets in a place where violence was an everyday’s life fact and The Heart of the Matter sets at
the brink of the second world war were meant to deal with the theme of violence. Nevertheless, we
notice that the depiction of violence in the novels is not the same and have different motives. Thus,
in  the  power  and the  glory,  the  Lieutenant’s  violence  is  motivated  by  good  intentions  to  rid  the
people from “all that is poor, corrupt and superstitious”, while the wharf rats who mainly are the
representations of violence in the Heart of the Matter were motivated by their desire to bully people
and violence in Brighton Rock is described as a necessary means for survival.

Par issa-outlaw
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