A STUDY OF THE RELIGIOUS FACTORS IN SEVEN
This paper first gives the definition of seven deadly sins, the reason why it is put forward and the influence it brings to people in the modern society. It then introduces some information about the film Seven, including the content, the techniques of representation which mainly include the use of symbolism and the description of details and the environment, and also the purport of this film, which refers to the analysis of the mentality of the modern people and the anxieties to all kinds of abuses. It finally discusses the amalgamation of the film and religion. From the theme, the plot and the characters, the religious factors in the film make the purport known better.
Keywords：religion; film; amalgamation
2. Seven deadly sins in religion 2
2.1 Definition 2
2.2 Significance 2
2.3 Influences on modern life 4
3. The film Seven 5
3.1 Content 5
3.2 The techniques of representation 6
3.3 Theme 7
4. The amalgamation of religion and the film 9
4.1 In theme 9
4.2 In characters 9
4.3 In plot 10
5. Conclusion 11
Seven (also marked as Se7en) is a 1995 American crime film directed by David Fincher and written by Andrew Kevin Walker. The story follows a retiring detective Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and his successor Mills (Brad Pitt), jointly investigating a series of ritualistic murders committed by Doe and inspired by the seven deadly sins
——gluttony, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and wrath. At the end of the story, the murderer killed Mills’ wife, which was his plan to irrigate Mills to kill himself, and as he was guilty of Envy, Mills, by killing Doe in vengeance, comes to embody the sin of Wrath. The film ends with the sun setting over the desert, with Somerset quoting Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls: “The world is a fine place and worth fighting for. I agree with the second part.” This film gives us a special murderer who had religious belief and found excuse from it to do all the terrible things, with the faith that he was doing it for God, which makes the film not a simple detective movie, but a much meaningful one with factors of religion in it.
This paper will first gives the definition of seven deadly sins, the purpose for it being put forward and the influence it brings to people in the modern society, then introduces some information about the film Seven, and finally discusses the amalgamation of the film and religion.
2. Seven deadly sins in religion
The seven deadly sins, also known as the capital vices or cardinal sins, are gluttony, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and wrath. The Catholic church divides sins into two principal categories, which are "Venial", which are relatively minor, and can be forgiven through any sacramental or sacraments of the church, and the more severe "Capital" or mortal sins. Mortal sins destroy the life of grace, and create the threat of eternal damnation unless either absolved through the sacrament of confession, or forgiven through perfect contrition on the part of the penitent. The seven deadly sins give people moral standards to observe, and the force to keep good behavior.
Generally speaking, gluttony means to waste food, overeat or drink to excess, or hoard up too much food; greed means to want more than need; sloth means being lazy and to waste time; pride means to desire attention from others or love oneself too much; lust means indecorous sexual desire such as adultery; envy means having a resentment at others who are richer; wrath means evil feelings caused by hating, and to negate others or take revenge. But the seven deadly sins in The Divine Comedy, are in the order of lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, pride, and in the point of Dante, lust means to love some person too much, which may belittle the love from God; gluttony means being too sybaritic; greed means to seek too much superiority in money or power; sloth means not to love God with heart and soul, including being complacent, lacking imagination and responsibility; wrath means love of justice to the extent to revenge and spite; envy means love of one’s own good to the extent to deprive other men of theirs; pride means having a feeling of superiority because of owning something. Though there are never the same explanations written in two books, the meanings of the seven deadly sins are all similar, which reflect the demand to common people.
The seven deadly sins are a classification of the most objectionable vices that were originally used in early Christian teachings to educate and instruct disciples and followers to warn them against immoral men's tendency to commit sins.
Beginning in the early 14th century, the popularity of the seven deadly sins as a theme among European artists of the time eventually helped to ingrain them in many areas of Christian culture and Christian consciousness in general throughout the world. One means of such ingraining was the creation of the mnemonic "SALIGIA" based on the first letters in Latin of the seven deadly sins: superbia, avaritia, luxuria, invidia, gula, ira, acedia.
Nowhere in the Christian Bible is a specific list of the Seven Deadly Sins given, although lists of virtues in contrast with lists of sins are found in certain books of the New Testament, such as the Epistle to the Galatians. The modern concept of the Seven Deadly Sins is linked to the works of a monk called Evagrius Ponticus in the 4th century, who listed eight "evil thoughts" as follows: gluttony, fornication, avarice, sorrow, anger, discouragement, vainglory, pride. Some years after Ponticus, in 590 AD, Pope Gregory I (Pope Gregory the Great) revised this list to form the more common "Seven Deadly Sins". The first three of these sins, as Refoule explains, link to lustful appetite, anger links with the irascible, and vainglory and pride link with the intellect.
The church would want to prevent people from even thinking about such spiritually dangerous actions, but there were two good reasons why churchmen felt it was important to educate people: so that they would not commit these sins without realizing how serious they were, and so that they would be able to confess any such sins and gain absolution. This desire to educate the laity about the Seven Deadly Sins can be particularly associated with the Fourth Lateran Council, which established the practice of annual confession for all, declaring that: all the faithful of both sexes shall, after they have reached the age of discretion, faithfully confess all their sins at least once a year to their own (parish) priest and perform to the best of their ability the penance imposed, receiving reverently at least at Easter the sacrament of the Eucharist, unless perchance at the advice of their priest they may for a good reason abstain for a time from its reception; otherwise they shall be cut off from the Church during life and deprived of Christian burial in death. Wherefore, let this salutary decree be published frequently in the churches, that no one may find in the plea of ignorance a shadow of excuse. Let the priest be discreet and cautious that he may pour wine and oil into the wounds of one injured after the operation of a skilful physician, carefully inquiring into the circumstances of the sinner and sin, from the nature of which he may understand what kind of advice to give and what remedy to apply, making use of different experiments to heal the sick one.
For this program to be carried out, priests have to be educated to counsel the penitents and the laity have to be able to recognize and recall their sins.
2.3 Influences on modern life
The seven deadly sins——lust, envy, gluttony, sloth, greed, wrath and pride—— have had an enormous impact on the moral compass of the modern world. These sins have had different interpretations in Christianity, Islam and Judaism, and some argue that they have even greater significance than the Ten Commandments. They are used to restrict people to pursue more things, money, power or even enjoyment in the history, and now they are still working, not as the ancient idea that these sins are capital and unforgivable and deadly. Nowadays people consider them more like a prompt which tells that they have some kind of weakness, and the sins are not sins any more but just moral codes. We have a much better life than in the old times in substantial life while there is more and more vacuum in our spiritual life, so when we try to find out what we have lost and to change for better, the first standard that comes to us is the religious teachings, which has strong stress to save us from falling and lead us to a right direction to achieve a bright future, as we all agree that sometimes faith is the only reason to hold on. Then people will see their weaknesses by knowing the seven deadly sins, which once were so dangerous and now erode the spirit slowly, which is just like waking up from a deep sleep suddenly and certainly the sweet dream is broken. So in modern live, seven deadly sins no longer judge our behaviour but warn us that it is time to pay attention to our spiritual life and from which aspect we can improve it.