A Commentary On Man

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A Commentary On Man’s Faith And Guilt Essay, Research Paper A Commentary on Man s Faith and his Guilt Archibald MacLeish raised many thought provoking questions in the play J.B.. The Book of Job had already asked some of these questions, while others were very original and insightful. MacLeish offers many powerful thoughts on the relationship between man and God, some of which are disturbing to consider. Nickels lost his faith in both God and man. He believes that the purpose of life is merely to survive and not to live. Nickles says, There must be thousands!… Millions and millions of mankind burned, crushed, broken, mutilated, slaughtered, and for what? For thinking! For walking around the world in the wrong skin, the wrong shaped noises, eyelids: sleeping the wrong

night wrong city- London, Dresden, Hiroshima. (MacLeish, 12) In fact the only thing that Nickels did have faith in was that J.B. would curse God if tested. Mr. Zuss, on the other hand, has complete faith in humanity and J.B. He knows of J.B. s strength and his ability to love God. In short, Mr. Zuss has faith in J.B. s faith. However, J.B. s faith in God is ill founded. J.B. s faith in God is based on the fact that he believes God to be just, but is God really just? If he is then why does J.B. suffer so? Maybe it is just J.B. s notion of justice that is incorrect. Bildad comments on the notion of justice, History is justice! Time inexorably turned to truth! One man s suffering won t count, no matter what his suffering; but all will. At the end there will be justice! Justice for

All! Justice for everyone! (MacLeish, p121). This can be taken to mean that there is no justice for individuals only for mankind as a whole. So if this is the case, how does J.B. manage to keep his faith when he finds out that there was no reason for his suffering? The deaths of his children, the loss of his wealth and the corruption of his health were all done for no cause and yet J.B. maintains his love for God. Why? Perhaps J.B. now puts his faith in the fact that God is all knowing and has a plan for each of us that we cannot hope to understand. After all, is that not the definition of faith, to put ones trust into something that is beyond comprehension. J.B. realizes this in the end, I know that thou canst do everything… and that no thought can be withholden from thee. ..

Therefore have I uttered that I understood not: Things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. I have heard of thee by the hearing ear… but now… mine eye seeth thee! Wherefore I abhor myself… and repent… (MacLeish, 132) The three comforters offer some intriguing thoughts on the concept of man s guilt. Bildad states that guilt is merely a sociological accident . That is, guilt is simply determined by chance; if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time you are guilty. Should the man who survives a fatal car accident feel guilty? Should the other deaths be on his conscience, he was merely going about his business when his car staled and plowed into a group of pedestrians. There was nothing he could have done to prevent this, yet those people are dead because of him.

However, this idea of guilt also has a lot to do with perception, You may be guiltier than Hell as history counts and not one smudging thumbprint on your conscience. (MacLeish, p121). What at one time may have been considered a sin might not be today and what may be a sin today might not be considered a sin tomorrow. An example of this can be seen in the idea of Manifest Destiny which America practiced though the 1800 s. People of the time felt they were doing God s will and so had a free conscience. Yet today we look back at all of the injustices that came as a result of Manifest Destiny and are haunted by our misdoings. Eliphaz suggests that guilt is a psychophenomenal situation . He says that our ignorance causes our guilt and that we are all actually victims of our guilt