Analytical Summary of The Mythology of Crime

1005 WordsJun 3, 20095 Pages
Chapter 3 in John G. Cawelti’s book Adventure, Mystery, and Romance entitled “The Mythology of Crime and Its Formulaic Embodiments” seeks to explain the “great imaginative obsession (with crime) of nineteenth and twentieth century Englishmen and Americans”(51). Throughout the chapter Cawelti works to examine how crime is viewed in the western cultures and its changing nature over time. Different types of crime have been viewed differently by successive generations. Cawelti also seeks to explain why crime has come to be viewed in modern cultures as entertainment although he does emphasize the fact that crime has been involved in major literary works as evidenced by the Iliad written by Homer. Discussed in this analytical summary will be the evolution of crime as entertainment from the 17th and 18th centuries, to the late 19th centuries, and now in the more modern era. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries crime was often viewed as not only a legal corruption but also demonstrated a lack of moral character. Cawelti claims that in the 17th and 18th centuries “ (A Crime) against the law was also an offense against God”(54) which therefore often made the punishment for the crimes that much more ruthless yet justifiable. Literature in regards to criminal acts during this time period often centered on the criminal’s crime and his retribution. Oftentimes this retribution was doled out in a manner that in today’s world would be considered too harsh, as capital punishment was a frequent sentence. The literature surrounding crime in the 17th and 18th centuries often sought to warn the reader against engaging in such “sinful” behavior as there was “little interest in (criminal) motivation or in social causation”(54). Crime was perhaps viewed as an act against God as well as the state in the 17th and 18th centuries because it was the state’s intention to promote such as idea

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