The Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison Essay

1421 Words 6 Pages
How do we reconcile personal freedom with the need to abide by the interests of society? Should we celebrate individuality or the sacrifice thereof? Or rather, should the individual be subjected to the masses, or should the masses be subjected to the individual? (Allen 144). A myriad of writers have attempted to answer these questions to different ends. In A Clockwork Orange and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Burgess and Kesey reach similar conclusions by employing insane characters to discuss the negative influences society has on the individual; in both stories, characters must endure the mind-altering treatments of morally ambiguous scientists in order to better “fit” into society. The authors both romanticize misfits who remain …show more content…
Ellison sarcastically critiques the role traditional religion plays in society; to him, religion is an agent of manipulation used to impose certain values on others. In effect, society unwittingly allows the few to command the many, which inevitably incites corruption and discourages individuality. Ellison contrasts “condescension” with “smiles” and “intimidated” with “innocent” in order to show the discrepancy between religious doctrine and the actions of religious leaders. Instead of uplifting people, the leaders “innocently” discourage them from seeking a higher existence. They effectually undermine the religion they profess by ignoring its values when it comes to their own behavior. Ellison’s clearly anti-religious sentiment is mirrored in existentialist philosophy. Kierkegaard regarded a belief in religion as absurd, while other existentialists criticize religion as a fantasy used to satisfy people’s need to feel loved ("Existentialism and the Absurd { Philosophy Index }"). Rousseau declared, “Christianity preaches only servitude and dependence,” (Allen 148) while Nietzsche was convinced that “God is dead ” (Russell 259). The association between Ellison and the existentialists is strengthened by the fact that Nietzsche shared his view toward the religious: to both, people abandoned Christianity by living to a different ethical standard while simultaneously preaching to others, though they refused to

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