Humility and pride: Pharisaism in the writings of William Faulkner



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Jesus severely condemned the Pharisees for their censorious self-righteousness. Frequently in his teaching Jesus directed his listeners' attention to the actions of the Pharisees and showed how their actions contradicted their own teaching and the law of God. As a result of these attacks of Jesus upon the Pharisees, Pharisaism and proud self-justification have become synonymous. The purpose of this study is to show the attitude of Faulkner toward Pharisaism as developed in his novels and short fiction. The Pharisees will be studied as an historical sect. Their recorded reputation, which grew out of their confrontations with Jesus, will also be explored, with special attention given to those sources with which Faulkner is reputed to be familiar. His treatment of twentieth-century pharisaism will be studied in depth. Finally, this study will show that development of a Pharisaical spirit in some of Faulkner's characters helped Faulkner to convey his feeling that self- righteousness prevented institutional religion from fulfilling its responsibility to mankind.