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The Life of Galileo - Is Galileo a Hero?

Uploaded by Ethan on Nov 09, 2002

When Galileo points his telescope to the sky, he is offering a new age of reason to the people, giving them the confidence for “the stars to fly through the sky of their own accord”. The knowledge that he offers is the catalyst of the new age of reason where people will no longer live in ignorance. Galileo threatens to “smash the crystal spheres” but relinquishes his personal responsibility to his findings when physically threatened by the church.

Galileo’s initial optimism and hope encourages him to “force through” the truth, but he is continually met by rejection from those in power. Through his persistence, the astrological truth he offers remains an issue, but when the time comes for Galileo to stand by his findings, he shirks personal responsibility to save his own skin, in the same way he ignores the impending milk bill, choosing instead to continue his work and ‘lock out’ the practicalities of the real world. When the plague hits, Galileo chooses to risk his life in order to continue his work, but when the time comes for him to legitimise his findings, by making an irrefutable statement by dying for them, he backs out. A hero would have stood by his beliefs, championed his cause for the people he originally fought for. Galileo, however, did not. His inherent selfishness meant he would not die for the truth, and instead threw the earth back into the shadow of ignorance, like the darkened mountains revealed by the light of truth he saw on the mooon.

Galileo underestimates the power of the ‘establishment’, seeing the church leaders as people. However, when the Cardinal dons his robes of office, he no longer represents his own beliefs, but those of the church. The church is self-serving, interested in maintaining their own sovereignty instead of pursuing truth that could be seen to go against their teachings. The church knew that acknowledgement of Galileo’s findings would encourage the peasants, who traditionally devoted their lives and work to the church, to work for themselves instead of the church. Such a reaction would destroy the church, and instead of allowing the truth to prevail, the church leaders would prefer to force Galileo to recant.

Andreas dismay at Galileo’s recantation is indicative of the dismay and disbelief of the people. A man who is willing to die for his beliefs is highly respected and what he died for is obviously...

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Uploaded by:   Ethan

Date:   11/09/2002

Category:   Literature

Length:   3 pages (639 words)

Views:   2157

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