Heart Of The Matter Analysis

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Graham Greene is Britain’s “main literary expert”1 in the contemporary world. The Heart of the Matter is one of the most important Catholic novels of Greene. Along with Brighton Rock and The Power and the Glory, it belongs to the group of his novels popularly called 'Catholic trilogy'. The membership of the 'fallen' world in Greene's novels produces tensions and longings which can only stop with the passage of time. In other words, it carves the Cross:
"The Cross is not only a unique event in time, but also something inherent in human life and which has to be lived through by every individual, who must ascend his own Calvary and die on his isolated Cross so that he may have the possibility of returning to God."2
The Heart of the Matter, like The Power and the Glory, has a title based on the chief theme it deals with. Like other Catholic novels of Greene, it deals with the themes of God and His mercy, and the issues related to sin, damnation, sainthood and salvation. It also presents a conflict between the love of woman and love of God. It brings out the infiniteness of God's mercy and the impenetrability of the workings of the human heart as well as those of God. On the other hand, we can say that Greene emphasizes the mysteriousness of the workings of the human heart and also the mystery of God. The title phrase takes place after the opening of the novel's second part, when Scobie, momentarily alone in the night time and looking up at the stars, asks the question: "If one knew the facts, would one have to feel pity even for the planets? If one reached what they called the heart of the matter?"3 Thus, the title of the novel is meaningful and appropriate, for there is only one central theme―the heart of the matter―that is compassi...

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...gan Paul, 1962),


7. Kenneth Allott and Miriam Farris, The Art of Graham Greene (London:

Hamish Hamilton, 1951), p. 217.

8. J. P. Kulshrestha, Graham Greene: The Novelists, p. 105.

9. Ibid., p.106.

10. Laurence Lerner, "Graham Greene", The Critical Quarterly (Autumn, 1963) p. 222.

11. J. P. Kulshrestha, Graham Greene: The Novelists, p. 109.

12. Marie-Beatrice Mesnet, Graham Greene and the Heart of the Matter (London:

The Cresset Press, 1954), p. 89.

13. F. N. Lees, "Graham Greene: A Comment", Scrutiny, XIX (October 1952) p. 37.

14. Arnold Kettle, An Introduction to the English Novel, Vol. II (London: Arrow

Books, 1962), p. 185.

15. Cedric Watts, A Preface to Greene (London and New York: Longman, 1997), p. 98.

16. R. H. Miller, Understanding Graham Greene (Columbia: University of South Carolina

Press, 1990), p. 112.
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