The Modernism Era

Updated May 12, 2022
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The Modernism Era essay

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The Modernism Era was a time that appeared to be the end of the world. Hopelessness and depression filled its people as they had experienced two world wars and were in the midst of an unpredictable arms race, forcing them to live their lives in fear. For most people, it was much easier to fall into doubt of a positive future and lose faith in the divine. Although many believed, the world was a place of destruction, chaos, and rebellion with no hope for a contented future, William Faulkner challenges this perspective by urging young authors during a time of misery to write beyond their present world. At the same time, T.S.

Eliot was writing the “Four Quartets,” where he fulfilled everything Faulkner desired in future authors. Eliot’s work compared temporal values that create suffering to the eternal spiritual life that creates true satisfaction. Eliot and Faulkner wrote literature in order to ignite hope in their audiences for a timeless and immortal future after overcoming fear. Their beliefs were ahead of society in understanding the destruction that comes with living physically and in fear; Faulkner and Eliot had the greatest understanding of what it takes to reach a state of authentic happiness. Spiritual focus, intangible connections, and universal love will lead humankind to perfection. Faulkner and Eliot wrote to inspire a hopeless society of the happiness that comes from enriching themselves spiritually and getting closer to the divine while they both exposed the harm caused by prioritizing physical desires, and the inevitable physical death that comes from valuing temporal items above spiritual relationships.

In Faulkner’s speech, he urges young authors to write of inspiration created by more than just the present world and allows his audience to feel enlightened and spiritually aware. The focus on tangible relationships and values restrict human potential and slowly destroys the human spirit. This physical satisfaction is short-lived and temporary, but because it is available in the preferred time and places it appears more valuable, yet continues to stray society away from the path of contentment and eternal life.

Eliot writes a dynamic poem that compares temporary physical desires to the everlasting spiritual fulfillment that comes once the physical body expires. In East Coker, Eliot describes how society lives in saying “Voiceless wailing, no end to the withering of withered flowers… movement of pain that is painless and motionless (Eliot 64),” where he portrays the emptiness of people’s actions, and the materialistic desires that consume their time and energy. The time spent on filling these short-lived thrills ruins the opportunity for prayer and meditation, that leads to a closer relationship with the divine. With the constant worry about stable work and kids and bills to pay and health and the weary question of protection, it becomes easy to fall into doubt of the divine or deny the presence altogether. Faulkner describes the dull values of mankind when he says “He writes not of love, but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value” (Faulkner).

He portrays the lustful living of society and depicts the false idea of value that becomes adorned by society. The prioritization of temporal things slowly ruins society as they look for something to create their next short-lived thrill caused by an inadequate desire. Societies precedence becomes focused on false and empty promises that only fulfill physical desires, which enable universal fear to plague society, slowly shattering hope and restricts society from reaching authentic happiness. Falling into the trap of fear is like living life as a puppet. These physical desires create suffering because their temporary stature creates a false sense of happiness and leaves humanity wanting more to fill their yearning for something of “value”. Many argue that society is a dark place full of desperation and anguish, but Eliot and Faulkner understood the overwhelming darkness and bring forth optimism for the future. Eliot understands and illuminates the perception that physical desires are the ruler of all people in saying “Desire itself is movement not in itself desirable; love is itself unmoving (Eliot 165).”

Eliot challenges the impression that society holds about “love” and establishes the pure idea of love that is everlasting among all people. The love Eliot describes is a love of innocence that will eradicate the human bondage and free humanity from the trap of lust. The love between two people can only do so much, but universal love among all people can save mankind from an abyss of hopelessness and unite humanity for a future of growth. The idea of authentic love is spread through all people and will allow for eternal life.

Universal love will save humanity and bring society to a contented place of true satisfaction. Humanity has hope for the future, although it was once controlled by fear, something as powerful as love will rise up and shatter universal fear, leaving it to be overshadowed and forgotten. Faulkner expresses his hope for the future of mankind by saying “I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal not because he is alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance (Faulkner).” Faulkner portrays his perspective on mankind’s potential and presents the idea that love can unite society. Mankind is capable of more than just endurance, but through the strengthening of the soul, mankind is capable of saving itself and conquering fear through universal love.

Although physical death is inevitable, spiritual immortality is a feasible goal achieved by disposing of the material values and focusing on spiritual enrichment. Society has allowed itself to revolve around material things, continuing to busy themselves as a way to avoid conscious thinking and understanding their flaws. The priority of material items has cursed humanity and restricts the possibility of becoming spiritually content. The pattern of worshiping earthly desires has continued through time and causes mankind to lose hope in the divine and themselves. The prominence of material needs has sustained since the time of the gospels, in Matthew 19:21 a rich man comes to Jesus asking for a way to reach eternal life, Jesus told him “If you want to be perfect, then go and sell all that you own. Give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven.

Then come and follow me!” This man valued his money and physical riches too much, and with direct instruction to reach eternal life, he continues to value his temporal earnings and left. Mankind has done the same thing, Faulkner and Eliot both present ways to expand the expiring physical lives beyond the earthly desires and become fully content, but because of fear, nobody has understood instead, people have turned their heads away from the instruction towards eternal life. Continuing to live with the false idea that material desires create a “happiness” that’s not worth losing. In Faulkner’s speech, he cries out for someone to write about things beyond the present earth and without fear, Eliot answers this by publishing his work in the “Four Quartets.” Eliot’s work answers everything Faulkner aspired for in future modern writers.

Both writers expose the flaws in society such as prioritizing earthly values above an eternal spiritual life. Society underminds these possibilities and loses faith and hope for everlasting spiritual life and in the divine, because belief in what is visible and tangible appears to satisfy their desires, but instead only paves the way for more desires and suffering. The intangible things in life are what becomes everlasting because without the tangibility, there is no physical harm and it becomes capable of lasting forever.

Although, many believe earthly riches hold the key to authentic happiness Faulkner and Eliot challenge that belief and provide instruction for authentic happiness that rests in prioritizing spiritual fulfillment and maintaining belief in the divine.

The Modernism Era essay

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The Modernism Era. (2022, May 12). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-modernism-era/


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