First time: innocence, second time: corruption, third time: physical love vs. Divine love. Many critics have complained that this novel, such is My Beloved, was too simply written. The complainant often is that the author Morley Callaghan tends to tell the reader what the characters feel, think, and do. This does not leave for much critical thinking on the reader’s part. That may be true, for someone who reads the novel once, but for someone who has read the novel more the once it is the total opposite. The second time, one reads the novel, they finally realize the corruption that is surrounding the novel and the third time is when it finally hits, that one of the main themes or conflict, per say,is physical love vs. Divine love. What is physical love, divine love? Physical love would be the synonym of sexual love; while divine love would partake in the love God would hold for his/her patrons.
In this novel, the conflict of whether Father Dowling holds physical or divine love for the two prostitutes, Ronnie and Midge, is exploitedthroughout the whole novel. This conflict helps develop the characters such as Father Dowling, in Such is My Beloved.
Father Dowling: eager, enthusiastive, passionate, a jolly person, happy, willing to help anyone. That is what Father Dowling is to someone who looks in from the outside. That is because many do not see the tormented, confused, jealous person that Father Dowling is. Throughout, the novel the question of whether Father Dowling holds physical or divine love for the girls torments the readers. The first clue to show his wicked naturecould be when he comes back from visiting the girls, and does not inform the other priest as to what he is doing. Usually, one would think that if the priest had good intentions, he would inform the whole world as to what he is doing. And if he holds towards the girls’ divine love, would he not want to inform the whole world of this. But Father Dowling does not do this; his excuse is that the older, elderly priests were such beautiful Christian characters. But if these priests were such beautiful Christian character, would they not then understand Father Dowling’s need to help these prostitutes. Just like Jesus helped those less privileged.
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“Sometimes they even wrote letter s to him, pretending to be making all kinds of revelation, when they were really shamelessly offering themselves to him without realizing how he might be tempted and tortured” (52).
First look at this quote makes one angry at the girls, but take a second look, really look at it. Look at the word “tempted” trying to blend in with the other words, trying not to stand out. That one word shows how Father Dowling might have been tempted to broke his pact of celibacy.
“Yet it was kind of love he would never be able to realize completely.” (69).
Father Dowling while meeting Pauline, who is Charlie’s fiancé, feels immensely glad for his friend but on the other hand he also yearns for the love that Pauline shares with Charlie. As soon as he realizes this, he thinks about Ronnie and Midge. Is there a connection in this train of thought? One would think so, as it has been already established that Father Dowling is tempted by the girls in his parish. Being tempted plus yearning equals chaos.
“And he was so moved that when he got into bed he felt that his feeling for the girls was so intense it must surely partake of the nature of divine love.”(17).
Father Dowling thinks that his love for the girls partakes a divine nature. But reread that sentence, he is getting into bed while thinking about the girls, his feelings for the girls was so intense that, thefragments in the sentence change the complete nature of the sentence. These expressions lean towards physical love more than divine love.
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The number three is used throughout the novel. In religion it is said that all God’s creation is complete in three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Father Dowling, Ronnie, and Midge: in Father Dowling’s mind the three of them are a complete creation of God. This would represent the divine love that Father Dowling holds towards the girls.
“How could God have loved those girls if not for they? How otherwise then could I have loved them?” (175).
When Father Dowling questions himself, as to how he should love the girls if not for themselves. Then he goes to compare his love to the same way God would have loved the girls. If this does not partake divine love then what would?
The confusion between physical and divine love can be seen. This confusion would have affected the society during which is this novel was published and the society today.
The society during which time this novel was published would have been more accepting towards the ideas and themes present in this novel. As it would have been the same society present in the novel. The society is very Christian-dominated; it would be considered the norm of the society, and anything that went against this would be frowned upon.
The novel would have affected the society it came out during by being a factor of change. The novel was written during the great depression. It is after this time period that the hippies and the feminist revolution come into play. The novel could have helped in questioning whether what they consider the norm of society is actually the norm and whether they should listen to the elder, higher class people that ruled the society.
Throughout the novel, many cases in which society would consider normal does not actually take place. The first case is Father Dowling helping the two prostitutes, even though he knows that other priests, his family, and people of the society would not approve. He however, continues helping them because that is what he believesis right. The second case would be Charlie who is a medical student, who does not believe in God but is still a friend of a priest. During this time most priests would not be friends with an atheist, and even if they were, they would try to convert them. But the relationship between Father Dowling and Charlie is one of normal friendship, without religion playing a part.
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The novel would have helped people question whether all priests were capable of divine love like they said they were.Should they believe all the priests and what they say? The questioning of priest would have eventually led to loss of faith in many people during this time period. While the treatment of the prostitutes would have been more acceptable, the thought of a priest having physical love towards Ronnie and Midge would have shocked that society because it was not heard of.
In society today, this novel would be held differently. While the storyline can be applied to today, instead of prostitutes it could discrimination against skin colour, sexual preferences, ethic group or gender. But society, at the time this book was published, is totally different of society today. Society now is more open -minded, and people are willing to question the norm of society. But the confusion between divine love and physical love still exists. People still cannot tell the difference between the two, and easily confuse one with the other. In today’s society, the treatment of the prostitutes would not have been accepted, but the fact that the priest developed physical love for people in his parish is common in today’s society.
For example, in India a priest was recently attested because he was caught acting inappropriately towards the girls in his parish. But this is not the first time, something like this has happened. It is always on the news that some priest has abused his/ her position. So, the concept of this story would be acceptable in this society.
Physical love vs. Divine love helps the character of Father Dowling developing, but not only does it help in characterization and plot development, it also helps in teaching the reader the effects this conflict would have on society. The struggle, Father Dowling goes through because he does not understand what type of love he is experiencing, left many readers speechless, but it also helped them connect to what is happening in society today. And as to why, a priest might slip in his/ her pact of celibacy.
... know that marriage still holds sanctity in today's society. 4 Works Cited Olds, Sharon. "Sex Without Love." The Bedford Introduction to Literature 5 ... is that they are making love as a physical act, not the kind with spirituality behind it. These people know what they are ... pros, the ones who will not accept a false Messiah, love the priest instead of the God" (Olds 740). Part of this ...