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Obedience Kills in Hamlet, The Lottery, and A&P

Good Essays
People are raised to obey. They are taught to follow orders; they are punished if they don’t. They are shown the rewarding benefits, such as success, a well-paying job and happiness that come along with being loyal, almost sheeplike followers of the law-like structure that their parents, teachers and other superiors set for them. But people aren’t usually shown the consequences that can arise when obedience is taken too far. I mean, look at the character Ophelia in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” She tried to be as obedient as possible and that just drove her insane. But like long-bodied dogs trying to catch their short tails, people who know nothing other than the obedient ways of which they were raised by are often driven into the same state of madness that Ophelia entered. And like those poor dogs, overly obedient people usually aren’t capable of understanding why they are in such a state, so they can never leave it, or even realize that they are in it.

Most people view obedience as a positive thing. Some say that being obedient can instill the proper values into a person. “It builds character,” others might say, “It helps a person grow, you know, in the ‘right’ sort of way.” Now, surely, one must wonder if that’s necessarily true.

It’s said that obedience can be both a sin and a virtue, but it would make sense to think that obedience can only be a sin when it’s inspired and carried on by sinful people. Likewise, obedience should bring forth virtues, only when there are virtuous people to follow. But can the two become intertwined? Can obedience result in sin if the intentions are holy? Can sinful obedience sometimes have good outcomes?

The answer really depends on what the circumstances are, and what peopl...

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...-for tidal wave / Of justice can rise up / And hope and history rhyme” (10-12), just as being obedient can sometimes result in rewarding outcomes, and hope and history can indeed rhyme— hopefully, however, one’s hope in obedience won’t rhyme with someone like George Gearson’s history, but it might.

Works Cited

Heaney, Seamus. “ A Chorus.” Handout. 7-12.

Howells, William D. “Editha.” Connections: Literature for Composition. Ed. Carrie Brandon. Boston, MA:

Patricia Coryell, 2008. 217-218. Print

Jackson, Shirley. “The Lottery.” Connections: Literature for Composition. Ed. Carrie Brandon. Boston,

MA: Patricia Coryell, 2008. 225-226. Print.

Updike, John. “A&P.” Connections: Literature for Composition. Ed. Carrie Brandon. Boston, MA: Patricia

Coryell, 2008. 249. Print
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