An Analysis Of Stephen Crane's 'When The Prophet'

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All life is surrounded by good and bad, right and wrong, the great and the terrible; however, no poem quite encapsulates the questioning of black and white like Stephen Crane’s “When the prophet...” does. This poem expertly discusses the problematic nature of the world in which there is not a moral right or wrong, and in which there are many more ambiguous areas in the world than are first perceived. The first line depicts the focus of the poem, which is the prophetic protagonist who is described as being “a complacent fat man” (line 1). This plays upon the stereotype of a self-indulgent man of god who claims to be better than all others around him, yet the selfish and arrogant behaviors in his personality lead him to be so hedonistic that his physical appearance suffers from his extravagences. This is an obvious criticism of religious charlatans that often sought monetary gains from “prophetic” information, such as when the Roman…show more content…
There cannot possibly be a definitive “right” and “wrong” because there are so many different cultures, standards, and religious ideals that counteract one another, and there is no way to tell between moral “good” and “bad” because the views on both of those social constructs are based off of perspective. There is no way to tell someone that they were right or wrong to questions regarding moral standing, because every facet depends on a person’s upbringing and their personal bias. This poem is truly a brilliant work for being able to convey this message in a simple conglomeration of six lines, of which there are merely thirty four words and only one character. “When the prophet...” by Stephen Crane beautifully illustrates the conflict between good and evil, and condemns the religious entities that perpetrate the notion that such boundaries exist within a mortal
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