Essay PreviewMore ↓
The disintegrating effect of the Social Lie, of Duty, as an imposition and outrage, and of the spirit of Provincialism, as a stifling factor, are brought out with dynamic force in The Pillars of Society. Consul Bernick, driven by the conception of his duty toward the House of Bernick, begins his career with a terrible lie. He sells his love for Lona Hessel in return for the large dowry of her step-sister Betty, whom he does not love. To forget his treachery, he enters into a clandestine relationship with an actress of the town. When surprised in her room by the drunken husband, young Bernick jumps out of the window, and then graciously accepts the offer of his bosom friend, Johan, to let him take the blame.
Johan, together with his faithful sister Lona, leaves for America. In return for his devotion, young Bernick helps to rob his friend of his good name, by acquiescing in the rumors circulating in the town that Johan had broken into the safe of the Bernicks and stolen a large sum of money.
In the opening scene of "The Pillars of Society," we find Consul Bernick at the height of his career. The richest, most powerful and respected citizen of the community, he is held up as the model of an ideal husband and devoted father. In short, a worthy pillar of society.
The best ladies of the town come together in the home of the Bernicks. They represent the society for the "Lapsed and Lost," and they gather to do a little charitable sewing and a lot of charitable gossip. It is through them we learn that Dina Dorf, the ward of Bernick, is the issue of the supposed escapade of Johan and the actress.
With them, giving unctuous spiritual advice and representing the purity and morality of the community, is Rector Rorlund, hidebound, self-righteous, and narrow-minded.
Into this deadening atmosphere of mental and social provincialism comes Lona Hessel, refreshing and invigorating as the wind of the plains. She has returned to her native town together with Johan.
The moment she enters the house of Bernick, the whole structure begins to totter. For in Lona's own words, "Fie, fie--this moral linen here smells so tainted--just like a shroud. I am accustomed to the air of the prairies now, I can tell you.
How to Cite this Page
"The Social Lie Exposed in The Pillars of Society." 123HelpMe.com. 20 Jan 2020
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Religion Paper A religion is a set of beliefs that a person holds and these beliefs actually defy a person’s life. Religion is the belief in one or more gods and ever religion has teachings that that have been prescribed to the followers. Religion is defined as ‘a particular system of faith and worship’ or ‘the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.’ Religion is one of the main elements that has divided this world mainly into Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and etc.... [tags: Religion, God, Islam, Human]
1200 words (3.4 pages)
- Both Islam and Christianity have practices or duties, which are central to the daily routines of life. The five pillars of Islam are the foundation of the way Muslims live. The first pillar of Islam is the Shahadah, the Declaration of Faith. This says; ‘There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah’. The second pillar is salah, which says that Muslims should pray five times a day. This applies to all Muslims, except Shi’is are permitted to combine the five prayers into three sessions.... [tags: Islam, Five Pillars of Islam, Allah]
741 words (2.1 pages)
- In Ralph Ellison’s novel Invisible Man, one of Ellison’s greatest assets is his ability to bestow profound significance upon inanimate objects. During the narrator’s journey from the bar to the hole, he acquires a series of objects that signify both the manifestations of a racist society, as well as the clues he employs to deconstruct his indoctrinated identity. The narrator’s briefcase thereby becomes a figurative safe in his mind that can only be unlocked by understanding the true nature of the objects that lie within.... [tags: inanimate objects, racist society]
1810 words (5.2 pages)
- There is a growing problem in our society. We do not see it because of the subtlety of the attack. The evidence is everywhere we look: classrooms, boardrooms, and the streets. It is a sad truth that our children do not even know what has happened. The older generations just shake their heads and wonder, “Where did we go wrong?” Society is only as strong and ethical as the people who comprise it. Our society is slowly becoming a petulant, selfish child. Today’s generation just looks at what the world can give them, how it affects them, and forgets that they are part of the whole.... [tags: Society ]
1826 words (5.2 pages)
- Although most lies are categorized as selfish, I hold that there are some lies that are told with good intentions. While such lies still involve some degree of deception, they do not seek to cause harm to others or to promote oneself as a selfish lie would. Ericsson terms this type of lie as a “white lie”, and goes on to say, “The white lie assumes that the truth will cause more damage than a simple, harmless untruth” (425). In other words, people sometimes fudge the truth out of concern for the well being and feelings of others.... [tags: Lie, Truth, Morality, Deception]
741 words (2.1 pages)
- The White Lie People are always talking about the white lie and how this kind of lying doesn't hurt other people. Other people feel that any lie is one that should not be made. No matter what individuals have to say about lies, Socrates feels that it is necessary to create a noble lie so that his vision of the just state, or kallipolis, can be created. The Myth of the Metals, Socrates myth, in no way contradicts his definition of justice in The Republic. The so-called noble lie that Socrates puts together is called the Myth of the Metals.... [tags: Papers Noble Lie Dishonesty Deception]
1058 words (3 pages)
- Why Do We Lie. In the discussion of the common use of lying the “Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology” reports that, “Dishonesty appears to be a pervasive feature of human interaction. The average person does not kill, rob, or rape, but she does lie, and she lies often”(Druzin and Li 530). Everybody lies to some degree. Deceit is ,perhaps, a part of human nature. For sure, people at times lie to gain an advantage in everyday life, in politics and in business. All this lying is to make themselves look better or to make others look worse than they really are.... [tags: Lie, Deception, F. Scott Fitzgerald]
1298 words (3.7 pages)
- One of the main thing that link the people I have interviewed so far is support. It is amazing how support can influence people’s life. One can never realised the power of support offer to people who need it. Support motivates them to go on with life despite having an illness. The people who I have met so far in ‘Healthcare in Community (HIC)’ comprised of a patient with multiple chronic diseases, people with disability, carers and people from other cultures. Despite the difference in their health problems, they tend to share similarity in term of support, although the kind of support may vary from person to person.... [tags: Health Care]
1236 words (3.5 pages)
- Pillars of Salt, A Woman of Five Seasons and A Balcony Over the Fakihani missing works cited “Maha, sister, my life is like candy-floss; fluffy and full from the outside, empty like this damned hospital room from the inside. And they called the candy-floss ‘girls-curls.’ It was like my life. A girl’s life. A fluffy lie for half a piaster. Ya-la-la.” (Faqir, 19) To many eyes, the women’s liberation movement in the Middle East is nothing more than a mere façade. The solidification of women’s rights in writing means very little when actually put into play, women still continue to be trampled on in all walks of life, behind closed doors and tinted windows.... [tags: Pillars Salt Seasons Balcony Fakihani Papers]
3145 words (9 pages)
- Social Lie and Duty in A Doll's House The play A Doll's House, by Henrik Ibsen, is concerned with the conflict between social lie and duty. This play is about women's need for independence and her obligations to family and society. We can easily recognize sacrifice and guiltlessness in the play. One can follow a theme through the play by looking at Nora -- the heroine. Who is Nora Helmer. She is the beloved wife of Torvald Helmer. They have a very nice, cozy house, and they have three kids. They have been married for eight years.... [tags: A Doll's House Essays]
787 words (2.2 pages)
Broad daylight is indeed needed in the community of Consul Bernick, and above all in the life of the Consul himself.
It seems to be the psychology of a lie that it can never stand alone. Consul Bernick is compelled to weave a network of lies to sustain his foundation. In the disguise of a good husband, he upbraids, nags, and tortures his wife on the slightest provocation. In the mask of a devoted father, he tyrannizes and bullies his only child as only a despot used to being obeyed can do. Under the cloak of a benevolent citizen he buys up public land for his own profit. Posing as a true Christian, he even goes so far as to jeopardize human life. Because of business considerations he sends The Indian Girl, an unseaworthy, rotten vessel, on a voyage, although he is assured by one of his most capable and faithful workers that the ship cannot make the journey, that it is sure to go down. But Consul Bernick is a pillar of society; he needs the respect and good will of his fellow citizens. He must go from precipice to precipice, to keep up appearances.
Lona alone sees the abyss facing him, and tells him: "What does it matter whether such a society is supported or not? What is it that passes current here? Lies and shams--nothing else. Here are you, the first man in the town, living in wealth and pride, in power and honor, you, who have set the brand of crime upon an innocent man." She might have added, many innocent men, for Johan was not the only one at whose expense Karsten Bernick built up his career.
The end is inevitable. In the words of Lona: "All this eminence, and you yourself along with it, stand on a trembling quicksand; a moment may come, a word may be spoken, and, if you do not save yourself in time, you and your whole grandeur go to the bottom."
But for Lona, or, rather, what she symbolizes, Bernick--even as The Indian Girl--would go to the bottom.
In the last act, the whole town is preparing to give the great philanthropist and benefactor, the eminent pillar of society, an ovation. There are fireworks, music, gifts and speeches in honor of Consul Bernick. At that very moment, the only child of the Consul is hiding in The Indian Girl to escape the tyranny of his home. Johan, too, is supposed to sail on the same ship, and with him, Dina, who has learned the whole truth and is eager to escape from her prison, to go to a free atmosphere, to become independent, and then to unite with Johan in love and freedom. As Dina says: "Yes, I will be your wife. But first I will work, and become something for myself, just as you are. I will give myself, I will not be taken."
Consul Bernick, too, is beginning to realize himself. The strain of events and the final shock that he had exposed his own child to such peril, act like a stroke of lightning on the Consul. It makes him see that a house built on lies, shams, and crime must eventually sink by its own weight. Surrounded by those who truly love and therefore understand him, Consul Bernick, no longer the pillar of society, but the man become conscious of his better self.
"Where have I been?" he exclaims. "You will be horrified when you know. Now, I feel as if I had just recovered my senses after being poisoned. But I feel--I feel that I can be young and strong again. Oh, come nearer--closer around me. Come, Betty! Come, Olaf! Come, Martha! Oh, Martha, it seems as though I had never seen you in all these years. And we--we have a long, earnest day of work before us; I most of all. But let it come; gather close around me, you true and faithful women. I have learned this, in these days: it is you women who are the Pillars of Society."
Lona: "Then you have learned a poor wisdom, brother-in-law. No, no; the spirit of Truth and of Freedom--these are the Pillars of Society."
The spirit of truth and freedom is the socio-revolutionary significance of "The Pillars of Society." Those, who, like Consul Bernick, fail to realize this all-important fact, go on patching up The Indian Girl, which is Ibsen's symbol for our society. But they, too, must learn that society is rotten to the core; that patching up or reforming one sore spot merely drives the social poison deeper into the system, and that all must go to the bottom unless the spirit of Truth and Freedom revolutionize the world.