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Chronicle Of Death Foretold, Marquez

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1246 words Published: 16th May 2017

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In every society, there exist authority figures that are looked upon by their people to provide a stronghold of security and leadership. A competent leader is one who holds interest in the welfare of his people before his own. He concerns himself with defending justice rather than his status and personal interests. In contrast to these ideal are the authority figures portrayed in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold and Albert Camus’ The Stranger. With societies constantly looking to authority figures for guidance, Marquez and Camus both utilize the literary devices of satire and irony to depict follies in the actions of the leaders and to criticize their negative influence on the people.

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Within the novel, Chronicle of Death Foretold, Marquez specifically uses situational irony and satire of the legal system to portray the ineffectual roles of the society’s leaders. Marquez commences his novel by illustrating the townspeople engaging in a thorough preparation for the annual arrival of the bishop. The entire town anticipates for his arrival, bearing gifts and animals. Ironically, however, the bishop exhibits a great amount of apathy toward the people in this town. The author illustrates the scene of the blessing as a “fleeting illusion” with the bishop “making the sign of the cross in the air opposite the crowd on the pier… doing it mechanically [and] without malice or inspiration.” (Marquez, 17). It is apparent the bishop simply went through the required motions necessitated to form this physical act, showing minimal-or if any-devotion. As the highest leader of the church, many would agree that it is Bishop’s responsibility to uphold the intrinsic values of his faith teachings. Forgiveness, acceptance, and love are all commonly accepted Christian values. However, it’s ironic that the bishop’s blessing completely contradicts such Christian ideals. The bishop’s attitude toward his own people displays little acceptance or religious devotion. Through the author’s description of this involuntary action, the bishop is portrayed as a dispassionate and apathetic character. This very apathetic nature clearly exposes his spiritual façade. Like a child abandoned by the parents, this society is left without much structure or guidance. Without this principled guidance, the society will eventually come to reflect its leader. Therefore, it is not surprising how social apathy comes to be one of the central causes behind the death of Santiago Nasar. Furthermore, Marquez effectively employs the use of satire on the legal system to further elicit the follies of authority figures. During the trial of Santiago’s murderers, the Vicario Twins, the narrator recounts, “The lawyer stood by the thesis of homicide in legitimate defense of honor, which was upheld by the court in good faith (48). Here, the legal system is clearly satirized as the two brothers are found innocent at their trial, despite committing a flagitious murder. Legal authorities within the court of law are looked upon to conduct trials in an objective and rational manner. However, this is not the case with the trial. The court’s view of reality has become tainted by the high values and reverence that has been placed upon tradition and honor. Marquez criticizes how authority figures from the court places more emphasis on defending societal values such as honor over defending the possible innocence of a man. In turn, people of the town come to approve a crime such as murder if it in is the name of honor because that is what is being condoned in the “court of justice.”

Similar to the way Marquez exposes the folly in the actions of the legal authorities, Camus’ narration in The Stranger also exposes follies in the actions of the magistrate and judge as seen through the satire on religion and the use of verbal irony. In a particular instance during one of the interviews, the magistrate begins communicating to Meursault about his faith in God. He then begins “waving his crucifix almost directly over [Meursault’s] head,” (Camus, 68) in the hopes of inciting a sense of repentance in Meursault. However, when it is apparent that Meursault is still unaffected, the magistrate becomes enraged and “thrusts the crucifix in [Meursault’s] face and was screaming irrationally” (69). Through such a reaction, it is evident how the rational façade of the magistrate can easily be shattered just like the spiritual façade of the bishop in Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Likewise, just as how Marquez draws attention to the bishop’s selfishness, Camus also effectively gives way to the selfish nature of the magistrate. Instead of inquiring Meursault about his motives or reasons for his crime like any ration and dignified legal authority should do, the magistrate strives to assert his faith onto others. Yet, even his intentions to do so are flawed, because just like the bishop, the magistrate does not exemplify or teach any true Christian values. He wields the crucifix as a source of power, expecting every criminal to weep at its sight as they have all done in the past. In doing so, the magistrate utilizes the crucifix as a way to reassure himself on the truth of his beliefs, not to bring others close to the faith. This manifestation of the magistrate’s selfish desires exemplifies how religion is satirized in Camus’ work. Through the actions of the magistrate, Camus shows how society exploits faith as a defense to avoid taking responsibility for their lives. Instead of using religious faith to find inner peace, the people in the society are taught by authority figures, like the magistrate, to use religion for self interest. Later on in the novel, Camus uses verbal irony to convey the follies of yet another legal authority, the judge. Right before the commencement of Meursault’s trial, he states, “According to [the judge], he was there to conduct in an impartial manner the proceedings of a case which he would consider objectively” and that the case will be handled “in the spirit of justice” (86). The very fact that judge vowed to been entirely impartial is highly unbelievable, especially with a case concerning a murder. The folly to examine here is the fact that everyone has their own prejudices which, undeniably includes the judge. In The Stranger, it is apparent as to how Meursault’s disbelief in God and his indifference to the world deeply disturbs society. Society, however, cannot handle to have “strangers” or “outsiders” who live by other rules. It demands obedience, and nothing less. In the end, Meursault is condemned to a brutal fate not because of the crime he committed, but the fact that he cannot submit to such societal expectations. Meursault’s fate has already been determined even before the trial begins. Nothing about his trial is viewed, argued about, or judged in unbiased expression. As a result, his sentence will not save him any justice either, emphasizing the irony in the words of the judge. In essence, the judge is not present to administer justice but to obliterate those outside of the accepted conformity. Camus uses this fact to criticize how society has the inclination to follow the face-value standards provided by higher authorities.


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