The hero of William Golding ‘s The Spire, Jocelin, is the dean of a big cathedral and interior decorator of a monumental steeple which is to be built atop his church. Set in 14th century England and narrated through Jocelin ‘s ain consciousness, the fresh concerns Jocelin ‘s effort to build the four-hundred-foot steeple with the aid of his maestro builder, Roger Mason – an impossible undertaking, since the church ‘s foundations rest on a fen and its pillars are made of rubble. Jocelin is convinced, nevertheless, that the edifice of the steeple is an act of religion, a “ diagram of the highest supplication of all. ” He forces the elevation of the steeple despite the fact that this act destroys himself and the four “ pillars ” of the church, stand foring the other chief characters of the novel and the most of import people in Jocelin ‘s life. As a consequence of this procedure, Roger Mason becomes a rummy and a self-destruction after holding been compelled to supervise the maniacal building of the steeple ; his married woman, Rachel, becomes a troubled, nagging adult female consumed by the demands of her alcoholic hubby. Pangall, the caretaker, dies in a public violence caused by a group of disgruntled building workers who superstitiously make him a whipping boy for their problems ; Pangall ‘s married woman, Goody, whom Jocelin has more or less prostituted to Mason in an effort to maintain him working on the steeple, dies as she gives birth to Mason ‘s kid. Jocelin himself, who knows full good that the building of the steeple is responsible for these broken lives but who ignores the fact, is demoted by his higher-up because he has neglected his fold and bankrupted his church in order to recognize his “ act of religion. ” Finally, he dies from ingestion, ill and deluded after traveling through the ordeal of willing the steeple into being.
The Fictional characters
Though The Spire is populated by several of import characters, in a sense the lone character in the novel is Jocelin. Everything in it is rendered through his eyes ; all others are seen simply as constituents of an emerging vision which Jocelin believes is divinely inspired. This narrative of a “ maestro builder ” who builds excessively high ( frequently compared to Henrik Ibsen ‘s drama of that rubric ) is a deceivingly simple history of a adult male beset by pride and obsessed with his ain self-image. From the beginning yf the novel, when Jocelin observes the theoretical account of the steeple standing in forepart of the cathedral ‘s intersections, it is clear that his “ supplication ” is a phallic gesture, a merchandise of his ain amour propre:
The theoretical account was like a adult male Iying on his dorsum. The nave was his legs placed together, the
transepts on either side were his weaponries outspread. The choir was his organic structure ; and the Lady Chapel, where
now the services would be held, was his caput. And now besides, jumping, projecting, bursting, break outing
from the bosom of the edifice there was its Crown and stateliness, the new steeple.
This description prefigures what will go in the novel the close designation between Jocelin ‘s organic structure and the edifice of the steeple ; here, it acts as a replacement for his sexual desires sing Goody Pangall. He comments that “ now there was a sort of necessary matrimony: Jocelin and the steeple. ” He dreams that his organic structure is the church: “ It seemed to Jocelin that he lay on his dorsum in bed ; and so he was Iying on his dorsum in the fens, crucified, and his weaponries were the transepts, with Pangall ‘s land nestled by his left side. ” Finally, while deceasing, Jocelin perceives his ain organic structure, his stick outing ribs, as the rock walls and vaulting of the church. Therefore, the fresh nowadayss a classically obsessed hero who confers upon an object in the universe the weight of his ain egotism-a load which, apocalyptically, brings that universe falling down around his ears. Like Ahab ‘s giant, Jocelin ‘s steeple can be seen as the self-reflection of a egotistic hero who can comprehend, looking around the broad universe, merely his ain image.
The other characters of the novel, the “ pillars ” of Jocelin ‘s church, stand for both allegorized facets of his ain being and debatable incarnations of an “ distinctness ” to which he is blind and which foils his programs. Dainty is, clearly, the figuration of lecherousness ; Mason, the builder who is brought down by the absurdness of Jocelin ‘s programs and his ain restrictions, represents aspiration. Pangall is a somewhat amusing figure-the “ lower adult male ” or beastlike figure of the novel who haunts Jocelin ‘s scruples and periodically performs in the function of the wise sap. Rachel, like her scriptural namesake, is the good but bare married woman ( the Old Testament Rachel is barren for seven old ages ) who represents blind religion: Her fond regard to her hubby and his engagement in Jocelin ‘s program wholly catch her organic structure and will. Rather than being to the full developed characters, the back uping dramatis personae of The Spire represent those characteristics-lust, faith, aspiration, sacrifice-upon which Jocelin depends for the completion of his design and which, ironically, conveying about the devastation of his program.
Subjects and Meanings
The Spire can be viewed thematically as a play of reading wherein the hero fails to detect the difference between the universe and the projection of his ain self-image. Like the earlier supporter of Golding ‘s Pincher Martin ( 1956 ) , Jocelin has several chances in the novel to accept the comprehensiveness and ambiguity of human being but spurns this possibility in favour of coercing his form, made of wood, rock, and glass, upon all that surrounds him. The nature of his pick can be seen in a dramatic illustration, when Jocelin climbs to the top of the half-completed tower and observes the countryside from his vantage point:
He opened his eyes and found that he was looking off from the tower and out into the
universe… . He could see over the bending workingmans… the vales of the three rivers that met by the
cathedral near opened themselves up… . You could see that all those topographic points which had been separate
to pess and merely joined by an act of ground were so portion of a whole.
Here, as Jocelin looks out, it appears that his angle of vision ( the “ close ” of the cathedral followed straight by the “ opened ” rivers ) is broad, that he sees the multiplicity and diverseness of being in this perceptual experience of “ the whole. ” As the scene progresses, nevertheless, it is clear that the perceptual experience of “ the whole ” about which he speaks is represented by the form of his design, the steeple. As he watches a emanation of travellers approach the metropolis, he sees, in “ a flash of vision, ” how
other pess would cut their path arrow-straight towards the City, understood how the tower was
puting a manus on the whole landscape, changing it, ruling it, implementing a form that reached
wherever the tower could be seen, by sheer force of its being there… . Soon, with this great finger
lodging up, the City would lie like the hub at the Centre of a foreordained wheel.
As this image of predestination and disk shape suggests ( interestingly, Jocelin is blind to the vulgar associations of the “ great finger lodging up ” ) , Jocelin is most comfy when his vision is framed and defined, so that no confusion can come in into his perceptual experience of the universe. He prefers looking out a window to being out-of-doorss ; he likes peering through the little hole in the cathedral roof made for the steeple ‘s building: “ As the borders of his little window sometimes gave a deepness and strength to what he saw through it, so the roof round the bantam hole made this glance into a gem. ” The fresh therefore opposes Jocelin ‘s sacred, limited, framed vision to the more diverse and blasphemous position of the broad universe to which he is wilfully unsighted.
In a sense, Golding is both utilizing and parodying the narrative device of the Jamesian limited, “ cardinal ” consciousness, where “ world, ” instead than being transmitted by an omniscient, all-seeing storyteller, is filtered through the head and desires of a particularised person. Jocelin ‘s calamity is that his vision is badly limited, while he is under the psychotic belief that he is all-knowing and that the truth and rightness of his program for constructing the steeple is guaranteed by a more godly beginning of omniscience. This duality is underscored by those illustrations, as above, where Jocelin literally can non see the forest for the trees, and by his effort to make a inactive self-image in the signifier of the steeple, which offers a safety from the yesteryear and which is safe from the depredations of clip. The reader learns, for illustration, that his deanery has been gained non through his ain endowments but through his aunt, who is the kept woman of a former male monarch. Jocelin has arranged Goody ‘s matrimony to the impotent Pangall in order, at first, to “ maintain ” her for himself, and subsequently, to offer her as come-on to Roger Mason. He has pitilessly subjugated his fellow priests. to his ain Fe manus, coercing his old and creaky confessor, Anselm, to stand ticker in the cold church while the steeple is being built. As the steeple rises, memories of Jocelin ‘s past flash before him, but he fends them off by refering himself with a new job in the building or labour differences. Merely as he dies does Jocelin allow the truth of the past to impact him, but by so, the lucidity of his vision is obscured by hurting and by confusion. As for the hereafter, it, excessively, is closed away to Jocelin because his hereafter is the steeple, the individual thing that represents his fate to him. So caught up is he in the moment-by-moment hard-on of his design, which is at one time steeple, spirit, and Phallus, that he can no longer utilize the linguistic communication of supplication in order to pass on with his maker-the steeple is his “ supplication. ” Jocelin is unable to utilize linguistic communication to convey the mixture of hope, fright, emotion, and intelligence represented by the steeple ; instead, the steeple is a codification of linguistic communication and perceptual experience, a freeze of lingual possibilities into a concrete object. Without a sense of the past and linguistic communication, Jocelin can merely pass on with the universe, and therefore construe it, through the iconoclastic vision of the steeple, that object which is, finally, simply a representation and repeat of himself.
Merely in the really last minutes of the novel does Jocelin hold a vision of something other than the steeple, something which might stand for the multiplicity of life: “ and all of a sudden he understood that there was more to the apple tree than one subdivision. It was at that place beyond the wall, spliting up with cloud and spread, puting clasp of the Earth and the air, a fountain, a wonder, an apple tree. ” The image of the apple tree, traditionally associated with cognition and guilt, can be seen here as an indefinable object with many subdivisions stand foring the profusion of experience which Jocelin has ignored in favour of the domineering steeple. Jocelin, so, is a fallen hero, but his autumn into clip and experience allows him, if he will see it, a vision of the “ many-branched ” universe outside himself. Still, at the really terminal, Jocelin asks of the steeple, “ is it still standing? “ -a inquiry which presents the sorts of contradiction and ambiguity that have become typical of the terminations of Golding ‘s novels. On the one manus, the fable of The Spire points out the narrowness and tragic nature of the Faustian, individual vision. On the other, Jocelin is a adult male of vision, an creative person of kinds, whose intelligence and penetration, molded into a design, stand in crisp contrast to the pandemonium and medieval obtuseness which surround him-even if ; finally, the steeple, trembling on the threshold of prostration, comes to stand for all that Jocelin has sought to get away. Finally, The Spire portrays an artistic vision which, if fatally flawed, may besides be supremely inspired ; therefore, Golding, as creative person, will non let the reader to get away from the ambiguities and contradictions of his ain vision.
The Spire was Golding ‘s 5th novel ; it might be seen as standing at the productive ( though non chronological ) center of this Nobel Prize-winning author ‘s calling. As such, it represents many of Golding ‘s corporate concerns, along with supplying a brilliant illustration of his extremely hard function as allegorist in an age which mostly rejects fable. From his fable about the autumn of artlessness in Lord of the Flies ( 1954 ) to Rites of Passage ( 1980, a ship-of-fools fable of damnation and redemption ) , Golding has worked the allegorical seam with a deepness, assortment, and strength which flies in the face of those who would see fable as an out-of-date genre. Possibly his success in this vena can be attributed to the sort of fable Golding writes: ne’er simplistic, ever an demanding complication of values, normally ensuing non in didacticism but, exactly, in paradox and contradiction. Even within the manner of fable, Golding systematically experiments with the signifier: The anthropological symbolism of Lord of the Fliess can be set alongside the controversial “ trick ” stoping of Pincher Martin or the invasions of modern history and psychological science into the allegorical dispositions of Free Fall ( 1959 ) .
Golding ‘s diverseness as a author has frequently led him to work outside fable, nevertheless, or to so alter the signifier that it must be recognized as something beyond fable. In Darkness Visible ( 1979 ) , for illustration, surely one of Golding ‘s most debatable and complex novels, “ consciousness ” is the issue: how remembrance and projection work, how the human head is affected by the restraints of modern-day being. This novel, so, may be paired with The Heirs ( 1955 ) , which attempts to re-create and portray the “ crude ” head. Indeed, all of Golding ‘s novels, irrespective of whethcr they are labeled as fables, are play of human consciousness. Golding ‘s importance as a modern author resides in his ability to portray how “ life ” and “ head ” cooperate, or neglect to make so, within a defined model of purposes and values, or deficiency of these. In The Spire, one sees one facet of this undertaking, where purposes have gone astray and where the “ reason ” of Jocelin ‘s mental design overwhelms the flawed, profane beauties of a fallen life-world.