Carlyle's Book Of Job Analysis

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As evolutionary theory was finding its voice in the mid nineteenth century, art and literature grappled with religious skepticism. Perhaps most tellingly, Tennyson, through his trance-like process of unconscious mining, accessed and worked toward the source of his doubt in the verses of “In Memoriam.” Prompted by the untimely death of companion Arthur Hallam, questions of justice, morality of God and natural law became more obscure and complicated. The often quoted line, "nature, red in tooth and claw," found in canto 56, can be related back to the scathing rhetoric of Carlyle 's Past and Present, published seven years earlier, and, perhaps even further back to the Old Testament 's Book of Job, an early inquiry into the justice and morality …show more content…
Carlyle is also quoted, in an excerpt from his On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History, to say, that the book of Job, “is our first, oldest statement of the never-ending Problem, - man 's destiny and God 's ways with him here in this earth.” (Cotter 283). In his 1961 paper Carlyle and Tennyson, Charles Richard Sanders quotes an 1842 letter of encouragement written by the former, addressed to the latter, in which Carlyle remarks he is reminded of “passages in Job” when reading Tennyson’s poem “Two Voices.” (Sanders 2). In Job 6:5, the suffering man laments the deprivation of his health and family with a reference to natural imagery. He asks, “Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass? or loweth the ox over his fodder?” (KJB). In the previous chapter, Eliphaz the Temanite spoke of those who “plow iniquity” in 4:8-10 and remarked that, “The roaring of the lion, and the voice of the fierce lion, and the teeth of the young lions, are broken.” (KJB). Indeed throughout the book, images of nature are poetically linked to inquiries over human sin, God’s justice, and suffering. In Job 10:4, the tormented Job asks God, “Hast thou eyes of flesh? or seest thou as man seeth?” God responds to Job in chapter 38, through question, regarding man’s understanding of life’s complexities. In 38:4, God asks, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding” and closes in 40:2, “Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it.” (KJB). Reminding man that he cannot truly understand the details of creation’s intricate design answers the question of justice on earth and in nature. Yet, recalling Carlyle’s above quote, this is merely the “never-ending problem” of uncertainty (Cotter 283).

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