Week 7 Comparison Essay

Submitted By Artistily
Words: 960
Pages: 4

The Power of Religion

Both the novel The Book of Everything (Kuijer, 2004) and the film Millions (Boyle, 2005) explore the power of religion. They show that whilst religion has the power to create the sense of belonging humans crave and provide answers to questions about existence, it can also be used as a means of control and has the capacity to create conflict. In The Book of Everything, Guus Kuijer uses characterisation and language features to examine the negative aspects of religion, fundamentalism and its power to oppress. Millions, on the other hand, uses film techniques to examine the capacity of religion to provide security and comfort in times of great confusion. Studied together, the two texts show us the power of religion and teach us that a balance between faith and tolerance is best.

Narrated from a young boy’s perspective, The Book of Everything is the story of Thomas’ family and how he uses his imagination to overcome the fierce religion fanaticism practised by his father. The theme of religion is established from the very opening of the novel when the family is engaged in a dialogue about literature. The father’s staunch religious views are highlighted by a terse claim that ‘all important books are about God.’ The father’s use of religion to oppress the family is evident by their subdued response, Thomas’ determination that ‘when I grow up, I’m going to be happy,’ suggesting that the family is miserable. As the novel goes on, we become aware of the conflict between the parents, the scene where father hits mother for emptying the aquarium highlighting a domineering attitude, which is closely linked to his religious fervour. Thomas, however, is able to overcome his father’s religion-fuelled tyranny, his ability to ‘see things’ a metaphor for his imaginative transcendence from the harshness of his strict religious upbringing. Biblical reference to the Exodus is also used to portray father’s fierce dictatorship powered by religion, Thomas representing Moses whilst father symbolises the Pharaoh. The story shows Thomas, or Moses, trying to free the Israelites, being Mother and Margot, from father’s dictatorship. The wooden spoon father uses to punish and beat Thomas is an example of symbolism used in The Book of Everything. The spoon symbolises how religion is, in some cases, used to gain power, and then with this power, used to discipline through physical abuse. Characterisation is also used to show the damage that religion can inflict. It is established from the beginning that Thomas is a sweet boy who sees the good in everyone. That is why when we witness his lack of emotion toward his father it is made all the more shocking, ‘ Thomas looked at the man on the floor. Father had tears in his eyes, but Thomas felt not the slightest pity.’ This is a clear representation of the damage that religion has inflicted on Thomas, making him see his father only as a tyrannical monster. The Book of Everything uses literary techniques to clearly show how religion is used to oppress in The Book of Everything.

Also from the perspective of a young boy, Millions uses film techniques to represent the power of religion to provide security and guidance in times of confusion. Religion is an underlying theme, complementing the idea of escapism explored within the movie. Damian’s encounters with Saints are a clear demonstration of religion’s power, the Saints providing Damian with guidance and advice. When he meets Clare Assisi in his cubby house, a medium shot shows the Saint in childlike surroundings, showing that religion can be an escape for children and adults alike. The non-diegetic sound, an alien-like resonance that fades into a metallic ring, suggests an other -worldly presence. Low-key lighting has been used to cast everything but…