"Religion is the opiate of the masses" (Karl Marx). Examine this statement and discuss in relation to the role of the Catholic Church in Angela's Ashes.
The McCourt's lived in an impoverished, class orientated Ireland during the great depression with a wealthy and influential Catholic Church enforcing its authority though the fear of the consequences of the afterlife if their Christian values where not upheld. "Religion is the opiate of the masses" a famous quote made by Karl Marx, so relevant in a Irish society that still upheld a class orientated prejudice society nearly a century after the quote was written.
The quote "Religion is the opiate of the masses" written by Karl Marx, was written in the mid 19th century. During this period there where numerous uprisings by the oppressed working classes who where living in miserable conditions with extremely poor wages. This was before the time of legislation and collective bargaining that would later guarantee a living wage and safe working conditions that are present today in modern Europe.
What did Karl Marx mean when he wrote "Religion is the opiate of the masses"? First it is appropriate to point out that the word Religion was used, not God. This is quite significant as they are two totally different concepts. Religion is not God it is instead mans attempt to understand and relate to God and through man has been turned into an institution with both a government and laws. Secondly the word opiate holds a lot of significances in the sentence. Opiate is a medicine used to dull or deaden the senses of the consumer. It is used to mask pain and suffering, both fiscal and mental. Remembering that Karl Marx was fighting for equality and liberation of the working classes how is this quote relevant? At the time religion put an emphasis orientated on the afterlife. Most working class families where told that if they endured the misery and suffering of this life that they would be repaid in the glory of the future...
References: Angela 's Ashes by Frank McCourt
Religious Themes in Frank McCourt 's Angela 's Ashes by Tony Pellum
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