The Will of God in The Last Man
As I read The Last Man I was constantly reflecting on how confusing the will of God was portrayed. Until I knew the conclusion of the story, I wondered if the characters were supposed to be viewed sympathetically in contrast to the conflicting messages they received about what God wanted. After the spirit of the earth’s intentions were revealed, I still wondered if God’s true actions were meant to be seen as just or cruel. With the context of class lectures, I know that it is not unreasonable to say that Grainville shows his conflicted feelings about God in the narrative. I believe that because of Grainville’s history with the church and the changing world of his time, he portrays God’s actions as unnecessarily cruel towards the inoffensive actions of the characters.
One example would be Idamas. Idamas spends a good portion of the story speaking longingly of man at the height of his ambition, but I believe that above all else, he desires to see and be a part of humanity as it comes together in community. His longing for the material accomplishments of humanity may be a fault, but I believe his desire for togetherness is harmless.
A more prominent example, I believe, would be the actions of Omegarus and Syderia when they reside together as husband and wife near the end of the novel. When Adam reveals the truth of God’s will and the nature of the child that Syderia would have, Omegarus still wants to stay with Syderia. Adam says more to convince Omegarus to obey the will of God but Omegarus still fights it. He doubts, he wishes to spare Syderia some grief by letting her know the reason he is leaving, and he even tries to return to her out of love. I believe that in his desire to support and protect his wife, Omegarus does not deserve the miserable lonely fate he’s resigned to at the end of the world. Syderia also does not deserve her suffering or her ignorance of God’s will. Even God’s consolation of witnessing the destruction of all things mankind has created, does not seem much of a consolation for Omegarus.
Even if the characters who suffer to ultimately obey God’s will ascend to heaven, do they really deserve the hardships they face in life? Although it is impossible to know Grainville’s intentions in writing, I believe what we know about the life he had the fate he ultimately suffered can shed light on what he might have been trying to convey through these characters. I think that Grainville was at odds with his belief in God and his portrayals of the characters’ sufferings reflected this in that they were seemingly unjust.