Literature has always been known to mirror, expose, or sensationalize the realities of society and life. Thus, this paper will explore this perception with regard to the musical Sweeney Todd. The seven capital sins which have been most known to guide and keep in check the morals, principles, and people’s way of life of are mainly adhered in the beliefs of Christianity. This paper will ponder and analyze the musical and the seven deadly sins which are believed to be blatantly apparent in the said musical.There has been a tremendous amount of literature which has caused ripples in the minds of the people and thus, been subject to great controversies.
Even if people have long debated the function of literature of whether it serves to pleasure or give delight to the audience (the function of dulce) or to open the eyes of the audience and teach them about life (the function of utile), there is still an undeniable proof that it indeed does and serves both.There are masterpieces of literature which inspire people—they show the beauty and the magnificence of life. Nevertheless, there are also works of literature that expose the rotting morals and principles of humanity, even revealing the corrupt minds and ways of the government and society. As such, this paper will more or less focus on the latter premise—literature’s function as utile. Sweeney Todd—The Musical Sweeney Todd’s character on whether he does really exist or is just mere fiction is still subject to much debate.However, what people can know for a fact is that the play has been written under a musical and consists of dark and morbid subject matters that it cannot really be viewed by younger audiences or those who are weak in the heart and easily queasy with disgusting scenes and topics.
Sweeney Todd is a play about The Demon Barber of Fleet Street wherein he inflicts a mad vengeance against the society which he feels morally incapable and unworthy of life.This dark conclusion that Sweeney Todd develops is based on his experiences in the dreary and dreadful streets of London and the people, most specifically Judge Turpin that enables him to lose the family he loves and lives for. Sweeney Todd’s obvious contempt for London is greatly shown in the Act I of the play, wherein the audience first sees Sweeney Todd and learns his story. Sweeney Todd’s first song of the play clearly forecasts the mood of the musical: TODD. There’s a hole in the world Like a great black pit And the vermin of the worldInhabit it And its morals aren’t worth What a pig could spit And it goes by the name Of London. At the top of the hole Sit the privileged few Making mock of the vermin In the lower zoo, Turning beauty into filth and greed. I too Have sailed the world, and seen its wonders For the cruelty of men Is as wondrous as Peru, But there’s no place like London! (Sondheim, Wheeler, ; Bond, 2002, p. 32-33)The musical play soon develops morose and gruesome series of events as Sweeney Todd teams up with the equally psychologically demented Mrs.
Lovett and he kills the people of London as she make meat pies out of their bodies. The story concludes in the death of both Mrs. Lovett and Sweeney Todd and remarkable realizations and revelations as Sweeney Todd realizes that his daughter and wife are alive and that he was the one who actually unknowingly killed his wife Lucy. The Seven Deadly Sins The seven deadly sins are perhaps very known due to the teachings of the Catholic Church.They are described as deadly because it is generally believed that when a person commits such sins, he or she is subjected to a ruinous life and the fires of hell.
The sins, although regarded as coming from the teaching of the Catholic Church, are actually not an original concept from the Church. As what Phyllis Tickle (2004) has extensively researched in his book, Greed: The Seven Deadly Sins: The notion of the Seven Deadly Sins did not originate in the Bible. Sources identify early lists of transgressions classified in the 4th century by Evagrius of Pontus and then by John of Cassius.
In the 6th century, Gregory the Great formulated the traditional seven. (p. xi) These sins often crop up in the Bible, but it does not actually directly imply that they are the seven deadly sins. Each sin in actuality is a severely form of an otherwise virtuous affection of a person—lust, gluttony, greed, envy, pride, sloth, and anger. It is, after all, never a good thing when things are taken in excesses and extremes. Each sin is very different but in some ways, very much interrelated.As what the following section will show with the seven deadly sins appearing in the musical, Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, each character’s sin is interconnected with his or her other sins or the sins that the other characters have committed. Sweeney Todd and The Seven Sins As what was mentioned before, Sweeney Todd’s opening song already gives the audience a hint regarding the atmosphere and tone of the musical—that it is dark and morbid as it showcases the characters of London in their most gruesome and sensationalized state.
The seven deadly sins are shown by the characters of the musical, not just by Mr. Sweeney Todd himself. Sweeney Todd’s obvious demise is caused by another character—Judge Turpin and the sins that he committed. Because of the sins that are innate in Judge Turpin’s character, Sweeney Todd and his family are frustratingly ruined which eventually results in a domino effect of London’s death and Judge Turpin’s death as well. The sins that Judge Turpin have are exemplified when Sweeney Todd reflects on his past memories and he remembers why he was in such a poor state in the first place:TODD.
There was another man who saw That she was beautiful, A pious vulture of the law Who with a gesture of his claw Removed the barber from his plate. Then there was nothing but to wait And she would fall, So soft So young So lost, And oh, so beautiful! (Sondheim et al. , 2002, p.
32) When Judge Turpin desires after Sweeney Todd’s wife, Lucy, he commits the sin of lust. Since the lady was obviously content and married to another, it should be logical that Judge Turpin should not go after her anymore.However, he even plots to have Sweeney Todd removed from the scene so he could have Lucy for himself. This in turns connects the sin of lust that Judge Turpin has done to the sin of greed. Judge Turpin’s greed is best shown, however, when the musical progresses and it shows the grown-up Johanna, imprisoned by the vile Judge. Johanna’s predicament can only be attributed to the fact that Judge Turpin’s greed makes him want her for himself only (aside from Johanna’s helper).