The sample essay on Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Love deals with a framework of research-based facts, approaches and arguments concerning this theme. To see the essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion, read on.
Sacrifice may be considered as the act of offering something to a deity in propitiation or homage; especially the ritual slaughter of an animal or person. This is certainly true in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Almost every person in the novel makes some sort of sacrifice which is triggered by the love for their country; their loved ones or for survival and dignity.
The largest sacrifice in this novel would have to be the sacrifice that the soldiers make for their country.
Whether it be the men in the Julia Division, Bari Division, Acqui Division, the Greeks or Bunnios; they are all risking their lives for their country.
By being a patriotic and serving their country, they are expected to make the sacrifice of their lives. The entire Acqui Division is a good example of how men are forced to die for their country. Like Mandras, they are a mere statistic of the ritual slaughtering of war. Their deaths are inevitabilities of this tragedy. Whilst the men of the Acqui Division are being sent to their death there is a strong sense of acceptance as they pray with their heads bowed down to their knees.
Because the men have chosen to fight for their country, there is no struggle or fight for their right of survival until the very end when some were praying, weeping or standing in despair.
They have lost the right to live because their country lost a war they chose to fight in. Carlo and Francesco have also had their right to live taken away because of their decision to join the army. They were given no choice when used as a catalyst to start a war between Greece and Italy. They were a mere “operational necessity”; they were Italy’s sacrifice.
They had no choice but to follow orders despite it being against their wish and were only allowed to ask “operational questions, not questions of policy”. They were expected to sacrifice their lives for their country: “we were supposed to be killed. We are Greeks attacking the Italian Army, and we’re supposed to be dead”. As a result of their sacrifice they are given medals but ordered not to wear them. There is no honour and glory in their sacrifice; instead secrecy, betrayal and murder and deceit. Because of the obligatory sacrifices soldiers must give at war, men like Carlo and Mandras are just “one more life warped and ruined by war”.
And as a result “it [war] destroyed my patriotism, it changed my ideals, it made me question the whole notion of duty, and it horrified me and made me sad” Unlike Carlo and Francesco who were ordered to sacrifice their lives for something immoral and for something they did not believe in; Captain Corelli, the Acqui Division and Father Arsenios are willing to sacrifice for what they do believe in. The Acqui Division voted to resist the Germans based on the fact that the time had come for them to do something right. They therefore knowingly resist the Germans despite the knowledge of the consequences.
Corelli too makes his own sacrifice because he “had to be with his boys” and because of what he strongly believes in. To carry out his beliefs even further, Corelli chooses to have the honour of being court-martialled alongside General Gandin if necessary. By consciously taking this step he knows the risks he is about to take: his life and never seeing Pelagia again. Yet he is still willing to make these sacrifices and Pelagia in light of this, understandingly but reluctantly says, “Honour and common sense; in light of the other, both of them are ridiculous. Father Arsenios too sacrifices for the same beliefs that Corelli has: Anti-Nazism.
Father Arsenios’ drunkenness, greed and indolence was absolved by the war and in the end, he sacrifices his health, and later, life, by taunting the German soldiers as they burn the Italians dead. He becomes a “skeleton stretched with skin and burned with sores”. Father Arsenios has transformed from a man of “venial[ity], a glutton, a would-be lecher, a relentless seeker of alms and offerings, an anthropomorphized promissory note” to a saint.
Father Arsenios, like Captain Corelli and the Acqui Division and even the ELAS and EKAS are all sacrificing their lives for what they believe in. Although each man may be sacrificing for different ideals; they are still giving up the people they love and the things they love for those morals. Whilst not all sacrifices are for the better, some sacrifices in this novel are made for the very right of survival that so many men have been deprived of. Gi? nter Weber and Mandras fall under this category.
Although both men are in the army and are risking their lives for their country, they have joined the army, like everyone else with the hope that they will not have to make that sacrifice. Weber for example has relinquished his friendship with the Italians as well as his honour in order to survive. Weber seemed to have recognized his fate that he would be the one ordered to kill his friends and unlike many of the Italian soldiers, Weber chose between following his orders or sacrificing his friendship and integrity. Weber chooses to forget his friends and live the rest of his life with guilt.
Mandras on the other hand had little choice. Mandras makes more than one sacrifice in this novel but his most life-changing sacrifice is when he chooses to beat the old man when Hector instructs him to. This is a significant point for Mandras because this is when he changes from a family-loving, playful spirit to a Communist, chauvinistic brute. By choosing to become a member of the ELAS, he is sacrificing his beliefs, morality, Pelagia and most importantly, his mother. When Mandras chooses to rape Pelagia, he is breaking away from the women in his life: Pelagia and Drosula. Although Mandras makes sacrifices; he is not a sacrifice.
He is a mere statistic of war, like everyone else. And the fact of life that comes into their defense is that “War is a dirty business”. Sacrifices are made, morals are lost and cruelty is a necessity. However, Drosula too sacrifices her relationship with Mandras when she chooses to go to Pelagia’s defense instead of Mandras’. Drosula gives up her bond with her son in order to stand by what she believes is morally correct and what she knows has happened: war has corrupted her son. When she stands up to her son, it shows the ferocity of Drosula as well as the strength and power of women.
Finally, sacrifices that are made instinctively for the people they love most are from Doctor Iannis, Carlo and Pelagia. These three characters are the protagonists of the novel and their stories weigh the most in the book therefore it is not surprising that their sacrifice is the most noble. These three characters make Carlo’s statement true that “Love will make men dare to die for their beloved-Love alone”. Iannis and Carlo are similar because they both knowingly sacrifice their lives for the people they love most. Iannis sacrifices his life when he saves Pelagia and Drosula out of the earthquake.
Iannis who used to be so full of vibrance and fire, by the end was so futile and traumatized by his concentration, still managed to push himself out of eight years of silence and cry “Get out! Get out!… Save yourselves! “. This truly shows the meaning of sacrifice and how much his family meant to him. Iannis’ sacrifice is instinctive more so than it is conscious which is unlikely in this novel. Carlo’s sacrifice is also instinctive when he rushes out to pull Francesco’s body back into the trench. By merely stepping out of the safety of the trench, Carlo is already risking his life for Francesco.
Carlo’s sacrifice for Corelli however is a decision rather than a sacrifice. Although he did give up his life in order to save Corelli’s, Carlo chose to stand “to attention next to Corelli”. There is also an element of self-interest when Carlo stands in front of Corelli. Carlo joins the army in order to be with other beautiful men and because he wishes to escape the scornful eyes of society, rather than to fight for his country and when he finally does get to die a proper soldier’s death and for someone he loves, he is “glad to die at last”.
However by joining the army he is also sacrificing the physical union in order to retain comradeship with the other men. Pelagia makes an unconscious sacrifice for the man she loves. By allowing him to escape Cephallonia she is not only taking a chance that she will not get caught but also unknowingly sacrificing their love. However although her sacrifice at the time was instinctive, waiting thirty years for Corelli was not. Pelagia deliberately waits for Corelli, despite no certainty of his return and literally watches her youth and beauty slip through her fingers.
By the end of the novel, she has transformed from a woman of beauty and youth to an embittered, senile old lady. Whilst waiting for Corelli, Pelagia also adopts Antonia, thereby limiting her choices and giving up the chance to ‘live’. Almost every person in this novel sacrifices a part of their lives, whether it may be for someone they love or for themselves. This theme of De Bernieres’ ties the novel and its characters together; they all feel the pain of losing dignity, happiness, loved ones and their lives.