Edward Bond is an atheist and a humanist. These are facts basic to an understanding of what goes on in his plays. His work invariably embodies a tough critique of the unholy alliance between religion and political power.
Sometimes religious belief is shown to be poisonous soil from which grow cruel and destructive weeds, and sometimes its is seen to be appropriated, after the event, as a cloak to hide the real business of power. But bond’s analysis searches deeper than the outward show of religious belief. In the end, he attacks a frame of mind, which hands over to gods (and even to men who try to transform themselves into gods) responsibility for what happens to human beings. His criticism of religious thinking from the vanguard of an assault upon all structures, political social, and psychological, that confine human freedom.
Religion a Paradox
Bond’s plays are, nevertheless, haunted by religious ideas, images and characters, in much the same way that our irreligious and fragmented culture is still haunted by the ghosts of its believing. When he writes about religion, it is often as superstition, as a specific fantasy generated by a culture and consolidated in individual minds, whose function is to cope with material fears and anxieties. Bond has talked about the strong influence some Christian idea and images had upon him as a child. He remembers walking the streets of Crouch End in
North London “terrified to think how God was love, and he killed his son for us and hung him up and tortured him and washed us in his blood.” A theologian could perhaps explain that bloody paradox but the young bond could not, and it is reasonable to suppose that most kinds who encounter it cannot. That is remained with Bond as an unacceptable face of religion is shown even in his first performed play The Pope’s Wedding. Here, Scopey, a young farm labourer, enters into a half-caring, half-dominating relationship with an old tramp Alen. He forces Alen to sing for him, and this bizarre hymn is the result; “Little babe nailed to the tree/Wash our souls in the pure blood/Cleanse each sin and let up be/Baptized in the Purple flood…” And so on, in a marvelous parody of Christian Hymnody, full of the legitimized violence that so offended Bond as a child. “What one can have as a child is religious fear, and I think I had a certain amount of this.”
Military Effects or Bond’s Concept of religion
Evacuation during the war made him, he says, “aware of all sorts of things that one wouldn’t normally be… In
, you got all these curious religious sects –– I remember marching over the bills in an enormous crocodile of children, carrying this banner, struggling up the hills. God knows what it said.” These vivid memories are, like fairy-0tales, instinct with a sense of the unknown and the fearful. What offended Bond, and does so still, is the fact that these fairy-tales are still offered as truth. Cornwall
Bond grew up in wartime, and knows what it is like to be bombed, so there were obviously violent threats enough to confirm at least the possibility of an event as dreadful as the Crucifixion. These must have been starling and impressive expenses, but is should not be assumed that there are unique to Edward Bond. Most infant and junior schools in the 1970’s teach children about Jesus, and very many working-class children planning, disruption and unhappiness not so different from that experienced by wartime evacuees.
Bond’s argument with religion, carried on consistently throughout
Narrow Road to the Deep North, emerges in some from every one of his plays to date. In the quasi-naturalistic plays, eyed and The pope’s institution are just the cayed outbuildings of modern bourgeois society, now only conceivable as the object of dirty jokes. Both plays envision worlds there a lifeless religious morality is violated by the true nature of the society it seeks to protect. As if wishing to home in on the history it has caused that morality to come into being, bond next embarks Wedding Church Narrow Road to the Deep North and Early Morning.
In all this plays, the clergy are satarised and presented as tools of the upper classes. The Supremacy of religion is always questioned and pragmatic affairs are given Jull significance. The character of vicar and Willy Rose relationship are an ample proof of the argument Vicar serves as a Cat’s Paw in the hands of Mrs. Rafi who being a pragmatic woman symbolically dominate, religion. Willy Rose Union to confront against the adds of life without religion (as they seen its hollowness in Mrs. Rafi’s play) in given move substance.