Iris Murdoch World Literature Analysis
In her essay “Against Dryness,” Murdoch writes:The connection between art and the moral life has languished because we are losing our sense of form and structure in the moral world itself. . . . [W]hat we require is a renewed sense of the difficulty and complexity of the moral life and the opacity of persons.
In novel after novel, Murdoch addresses the problems of living a moral life, as her characters strive painfully to seek the Good. In a series of Gifford lectures delivered in 1982, Murdoch speaks about Plato’s allegory of the cave and the sun. The soul, traveling through four stages of enlightenment, continues to discover that what it considered realities are only shadows of something else. Thus moral change may be considered a progressive discarding of the false “good,” of images and shadows that are eventually recognized as false.
Central to this concept of moral change is the idea of Eros, or love. Sexual love and transformed sexual energy are a major motif in Murdoch’s novels, particularly in A Severed Head (1961), The Italian Girl (1964), The Black Prince, and The Sea, the Sea. In novel after novel, love both blinds the characters and allows them a clearer vision of reality in a typical Murdoch dichotomy. Maturity is often achieved by falling “out of love.” No other writer does a better job of evoking the changed consciousness that love brings.
Yet for all of their...
(The entire section is 4902 words.)
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