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Sacrifice Essay

sacrifice essay

Example 1

In many works of literature, a character makes a sacrifice that can affect his life in order to achieve something more important. In the play The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, the character John Proctor sacrifices his life, while in the novel The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorn, the character Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, sacrifices his reputation. Both characters, Proctor and Dimmesdale, respectively, gained something more important than their life and reputation.

In order to redeem himself from the sins he has made, John Proctor sacrificed his life. Before he was hanged, Elizabeth, his wife, was asked to get him to confess that he was practicing witchcraft. During their conversation, John revealed that it wasn’t so important for him to lie in order to keep himself alive because he believed that if he died, he wouldn?t die saintly.

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However, when they gave him papers to sign, which stated his confession and the names of people who are accused of witchcraft, it became important to him that he does not lie. If he had signed the papers, he would have blackened the names of the people who are innocent. He believed that he shouldn’t have to blacken the names of the accused people in order to keep his life. Through this sacrifice, he has balanced all the sins he has made. Therefore, he has redeemed himself and kept his soul.

Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale sacrificed his reputation in order to gain inner peace. Dimmesdale has been tortured by himself as well as Chillingworth. Chillingworth felt the need to torture the man who committed adultery with Hester, his wife. Dimmesdale felt guilty for not confessing his crime when Hester was on the scaffold. The only way he could remove this guilt was to confess his crime, and ruin his reputation with the townspeople. Even though he died almost immediately after his confession, he won the respect of his daughter, escaped Chillingworth’s torture, and most importantly gained his inner peace.

Both John Proctor, and Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale gave up something that had a big affect on their lives in order for them to gain what was more important. They both committed sins, and they both took the last chance to keep their souls. If John Proctor signed the confession, he would have lived with the guilt of contributing to the fate of numerous victims who died in the Salem Witch Trials. If Dimmesdale did not confess, he would have died with unhappiness and misery, just like the way he lived his life. He also would never have gained his inner peace, and he leaves no chance for Pearl to grow up to be a respectful and respected person.


Example 2

Dickens was a great author as demonstrated by the way he employed the literary devices of setting, foreshadowing, and imagery, in A Tale of Two Cities. The reoccurring themes and symbols throughout the novel enhance the reading and keep the reader engaged. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is also a suspenseful novel, tying numerous characters together between London and Paris during the French Revolution.

There are many symbols and themes throughout the book, but the theme that made this book most meaningful in my judgment is the theme of sacrifice in the name of love. This theme was represented through symbols, were characters in this novel risked and even took their lives for their loved ones. The theme of sacrificing in the name of love is greatly established throughout the novel by the reoccurring symbols being the golden thread, the fountain, and the shadow.

The golden thread is the name given for Lucie throughout A Tale of Two Cities because of her genuine morals and love for others. Before Lucie goes to claim her father, she states, “…trembling with eagerness to lay the special face upon her warm young breast, and love it back to life and hope” (Dickens 32). Lucie quickly finds out she is going to bring her father home and wants to restore his life, love, and hope.

In their emotional reunion, Lucie shows her love immediately, “His cold white head mingled with her radiant hair, which warmed and lighted it as though it were the light of Freedom shining on him” (34). In Latin, Lucie means “light” and Lucie literally brings her father to the light of freedom. Lucie begins a whole new life taking care of him and sacrificing everything she has to restore him to full recovery.

Dickens uses the symbols of the golden thread, the fountain, and the shadow to illustrate a central theme in this novel: sacrifice in the name of love. The golden thread is Lucie, the Fountain represents life, and the Shadow as Madame Defarge, bring together the theme, characters, and plot of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. After all the hardships Lucie has endured, she is loved and protected by the end of the novel.

All the loving people surrounding her do selfless acts for her and her family. By using all of the literary terms, through theme and symbols, Dickens ties together the plot and all of the characters. The many different ways the characters sacrifice in the name of love and Dickens’ use of powerful symbols combine to make this a very moving and interesting book.


Example 3 – Sacrifice Within The Israelite Religion

The primary religious rituals of Israelite religion involved sacrifices and offerings. The ritual system within the Israelite cult evolved around gifts and offerings that were presented before Yahweh. In examining the book of Leviticus, the sacrificial system of the Israelites can be identified. It is this sacrificial system that was handed down by God through Moses that allowed the people of Israel to cross over the gap between their own weaknesses and corruption to the expectations presented by God. Sacrifices symbolized an acknowledgment of guilt and a need for divine grace and forgiveness.

Understanding the Israelite Cult

The Israelite cult is set apart from other cults in that the people were bound together to worship one God. ?The distinctiveness of the Israelite cult is nothing other than the limitation of cultic activity to one particular patron deity? (Anderson, 1987;3). The cult’s foundation of worship centered on those sacrificial gifts and offerings that were given to Yahweh. In addition, the Israelite cults were village centered.

At the beginning of the 12th century BC, settlements on the hill country of Judea and Ephraim began to increase in number and density. The farming that took place on these hills allowed Israelites to gain an independent economy from surrounding cult economies (Anderson, 1987;23).

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Sacrifice within the social context can be transgressed into two aspects, one relating to the offender, and the other being the offended one, God. ?If individuals entered a state incongruent with good relations with God, they had to undergo rites to restore them to a normative status? (Davies, 1985;155). Thus the sacrifice encompassed this social dimension. The part played by God in the social lives of a man and the action of his divinity.

The Meaning of the Sacrificial Ritual

Man’s very nature is sinful and redemption during this time was found in the rituals that they performed. It served as a medium between the people and God as a means of redemption for their sins. Sacrificial rituals were the mechanism by which disruptions within God’s world were acknowledged and made right. “A complete act of worship implies not merely that the worshipper comes into the presence of god with gestures of homage and words of prayer, but also that he lays before the deity some material oblation” (Smith, 1996:43). Thus, sacrifices created a ritual framework within the community, providing the Israelites with a system of order in their society.

Sacrifices often took place within the temple. The tabernacle itself was established to be a place of communion between God and Israel. Here the rituals performed to God revealed not only their guilt offerings but it also was where God revealed his will anew to Israel. The physical structure here is important. The tabernacle is the threshold by which the “transition from normal to abnormal, this world to other” is consecrated (Leach, 1985:144). The altar was a gateway to the world of God through which offerings could be made but also the channel through which the power of God is visible to man (Lev 9:24, 10:2).

Sacrifices defined

Defining the sacrificial rituals is complex. Some sacrifices were part of the daily rituals and considered voluntary. Other sacrifices took on deeper meaning and were considered compulsory, or to be performed on more special occasions. Nelson breaks down sacrifices into three separate categories: status maintenance rituals, status reversal rituals, and status elevation rituals (Nelson, 1993:55). All three categories share the same common practice of transference over some type of boundary.

Maintenance rituals were intended to keep the daily life of the Israelite in equilibrium and to prevent disorder from occurring within the community or households (Nelson, 1993;55). The Day of Atonement, for example, was a day of rest where the people kept Sabbath and under the provisions of the Lord were not to perform any work during that day (Lev 23).

The reversal rituals were designed to restore affairs to their proper condition by reversing impurity into purity and guilt into innocence. The cleansing ritual of the Leper transferred the individual from the unclean to the clean again prior to their entrance back into society (Lev 14). ?The elaborate anointing which follows the healing served to remove the person from his status of seclusion into a position of social fellowship within the community, and also served to reposition him within the natural categories of the world? (Davies, 1985;158).

Finally, the elevation rituals were considered “rites of passage,” in that it transferred the person from one clear-cut social category into another. Upon installation, priests endured seven days of isolation, humility and sacrality before entering into the community (Lev 8-9).

This rite of passage allows the priest to cross over a threshold where the boundaries between the clean and unclean, holy and profane are blurred (Nelson, 1993;58). It was a state of liminality for the priest where the rules of society are suspended.

Sacrifice within the Book of Leviticus

In the book of Leviticus the sacrificial framework is broken down in a series of speeches from God to Moses. In these speeches, God gave laws for the people of Israel directing them to glorify him through the sacrifice. In glorifying him, the Israelites were acknowledging that all their worldly possessions were gifts from God, and in sacrificing them, they were forfeiting themselves as sinners before him. These offerings were expressions of faith, whether it came as voluntary or compulsory.

The priest or the “sons of Aaron” are the dominant actors in the sacrificial ritual. The rabbinic name for the book of Leviticus is kohanim, which means “instructions of priests.” Thus, since priests came from the tribe of Levi, the book came to be called Leviticus. The priest served as the intermediary between the lay congregation and God (Gerstenberger, 1996;50).

The first seven chapters in the book of Leviticus depict divine descriptions of the sacrificial system. The main types of sacrifices outlined are the whole burnt offering (olah), the grain offering (minchah), the peace offering (shelamim), and the purification offering (chatta’t). Although the rituals differed in presentation, many elements of structure remain consistent throughout.

The Burnt offering’s purpose was to be a gift to God. Usually in the form of a whole animal it was offered daily as an offering of dedication. The ritual was a method of giving something pleasing or savory to God. The ritual was performed in portions, which are allocated into categories of the offering and the residue (Leach, 1985:145). The offering consisted of the essential organs and the surrounding fat and was burnt completely upon the altar. The remaining residue was often discarded but not considered essential to the actual offering.

The sacrificial animal in such offerings held great significance for Israel. The ox was a symbol of wealth because of its high importance within the community. Their milk production and value of trade made the oxen sacrifice the top of the list in ordinances of Israel (Gerstenberger, 1996;27). Other sacrificial animals included the sheep, for those who could not afford to offer the ox, and for those with even less, the turtle-dove or pigeon was acceptable.

The second chapter outlines the grace offering which presents an animal offering to the Lord but not in the form of killing. Rather, a portion of a meal is ceremonially mixed with oil and flour and presented to the priest in offering. The priest then burns a portion of the offering upon the altar and partakes of the rest. ?Providing food for God out of feelings of gratitude and obligation is the original intention of this sacrifice? (Gerstenberger, 1996;42).

In times of impurity, one would make an offering in order to purify or cleanse themselves again in the eyes of the Lord. The peace offering, outlined in the third chapter, gives a detailed account of how man was to bring this sacrifice for atonement. Offering it voluntarily, the animal must be offered at the door of the tabernacle where the man must put both hands upon the head of his offering. This action of putting his hands on the head of the offering was to signify his desire and hope that it would be accepted as an atonement for his sins. The sacrifice was to then be killed by the priests who would then sprinkle the blood of the victim upon the altar.

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It is important to note that the Israelites as a culture were largely vegetarians. Fat during this time and still even today are considered delicacies in the Middle East. The consumption of meat then, especially the fatty parts, was reserved for festival occasions (Gerstenberger, 1996;48). It was also from these fatty portions that the offerings to God were made.

Chapters four and five discuss the sin offering and the role of sacrifice in ritual purification. The Hebrew word chatta?t encompassed the sin, the sacrifice that deletes it, and the victim of such a sacrifice. When an individual or the community committed a forbidden action, an offering was to be made for redemption. The sin offering is much like the burnt offering in that the victim is burnt on the altar, but the distribution of parts is never eaten. Rather the ashes of the victim are carried outside the sanctuary to be burnt.

Leviticus 4-5 “represents a core text of the priestly effort at the elimination of sin and guilt” (Gerstenberger, 1996;56). The text focuses in on atonement. This act of reconciliation brings a person back into the fellowship with God after there is a disruption in the initial relationship. This disruption consists of ethical, legal and rational discernible transgressions against commandments and affronts to God (Gerstenberger, 1996;57).

In the priestly system, atonement could only be achieved through a blood sacrifice. Blood was held in particular reverence because it was considered the substance of life (Lev 17:14). The blood of the sacrificial animal, therefore, substituted for the life of the offending person. It functioned to return that person to fellowship with God. “This life force can redeem a life given over to death, and for that reason can also eliminate defilement and reestablish sundered fellowship” (Gerstenberger, 1996;60).

From this chapter on a combining of sacrificial rituals becomes a consistent occurrence within the book of Leviticus. Frequently sin offerings, burnt offerings, and often peace offerings are mentioned in the same sequence as the sacrifice (Lev 5:7, 9:2, 9:3, 9:7, 9:22, 10:19, 14:13, 14:19, 14:22, 14:31, 15:15, 15:30). This procedure thus acknowledges that the sin of man is first rendered and the sin’s effects are dealt with and removed prior to the spiritual death. The sin offering hence nullifies and removes the effects of sin and uncleanness.


The concluding remarks in 7:37 and its reference to the opening verses in 1:1-2, constitute the framework enclosing the collection of sacrificial regulations within Levitical law (Gerstenberger, 1996;24). It is within these first seven chapters that God outlines the religious laws for Israel to follow. The sacrifices are arranged so that their concepts and distinctive features are memorable.

With the framework that is established in chapters 1-7, the Levitical text is then able to in the remaining chapters describe the roles of sacrifice in festivals and everyday life. The Day of Atonement where the sin offering secured another year for the community of Israel in the eyes of the Lord (Lev 23). This sacrificial system is thus the foundation of life by which the Israelites live their day to day lives.


Example 4 – Sacrifice In A Tale Of Two Cities

Throughout the book, A Tale of Two Cities the theme of sacrifice is used to help the reader realize the cost of life, as well as to develop the plot through the effects of those sacrifices. Through the characters of Sydney Carton, Dr. Manette, and Ms. Pross the theme of sacrifice is developed. The theme of sacrifice brings key aspects of the plot together, and Carton’s sacrifice brings the novel closer in the end.

Sydney Carton paid the highest cost of sacrifice with his life, and in doing so he was very similar to Jesus Christ. Carton laid down his life for a man who had never done anything for him and who in fact had abused his relationship as demonstrated on page 191 when Carton describes himself in Darnay’s view as “a dissolute dog who has never done any good and never will.” Similarly, Jesus Christ let himself be beaten, abused, and killed for the same people who spit in his face.

Other people in both cases thought that Jesus and Carton were not thought to be much more than dogs, while they both sacrificed their lives so these people who treated them like dogs could live. Both Carton’s and Jesus’ sacrifice was inspired by a deep desperate love for which they were willing to do anything. Carton was willing to die for Lucie because of his desperate, scandalous love for her, just as Jesus showed his love for a man when he was willing to give up his life for every man.

This level of love makes the sacrifice even more valuable and brings things to closure. Finally, Carton and Jesus both knew that through their sacrifice, others could have life. Carton’s death breathed life into Darnay just as Jesus Christ’s death breathes life into those who trust in him. The importance of their death is that it brings life. The role of Carton’s sacrifice in the plot is that the cost of life is sometimes high. Through his sacrifice, the cost and privilege of living can be measured, just as Christians can see the true cost and privilege of life through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice.

Dr. Manette also sacrificed much of his life by giving up his own personal goals and agenda for Lucie. On page 125 Dr. Manette says, “any fancies, any reasons, and apprehensions, anything whatsoever, new or old against the man she really loved they shall all be obliterated for her sake.” Dr. Manette was willing to relinquish his own personal feelings or perhaps “rights” so that Lucie may be happy.

He set aside, “anything whatsoever” in order for Lucie to marry the man she loves. Dr. Manette did anything he could to save Darnay from death, even to the point where Madame Defarge mocked him saying, “Save him now, my Doctor saves him!” Dr. Manette had always been suspicious about Darnay, but he put aside his doubts in making Lucie happy. Deep down he knew that Darnay was an Evermond, but he sacrificed his own feelings for Lucie’s feelings.

Thirdly, Dr. Manette gave up all of his desires, hopes, thoughts of revenge for Lucie, as demonstrated when he says, “She is everything to me; more to me than suffering, more to me than wrong, more to me .” Dr. Manette had years of anger and revenge stored up against him from when he was imprisoned, yet he forgot about all of it and only tried to make Lucie happy and make up for the many years he had lost. Dr. Manette’s pain was so great that he often reverts to the insanity that was caused by his imprisonment, while he still does everything he can even though his pain is so great that he can not physically control it. Manette laid down his life so that Lucie could fully live.

Ms. Pross sacrificed her life day by day for Lucie to have a better life. Ms. Pross simply devoted her life to Lucie, and her well-being which is shown when Mr. Lorry describes Ms. Pross’s devotion, “there is nothing better in the world than the faithful service of the heart; so rendered and so free from any mercenary taint” (87). Ms. Pross has sacrificed things every day by simply being devoted to Lucie. She did everything she could so that Lucie could have the best possible life.

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Ms. Pross’s devotion is demonstrated once again on page 86 when she is described as, “one of those unselfish creatures found only among women who will for pure love and admiration, bind themselves willing slaves, to youth when they have lost it, to the beauty that they never had, to accomplishments that they were never fortunate enough to gain and too bright hopes that never shined upon their own somber lives.” Ms. Pross sacrificed her hopes and dreams so that Lucie might have her own hopes and dreams fulfilled.

Ms. Pross did not have all the beauty and fortune in the world, but she lived so that Lucie might someday. Ms. Pross’s ultimate sacrifice of devotion was when she put her own life at risk to save Lucie’s along with others, as she struggled with Madame Defarge to protect their safety. Because Ms. Pross was diligent enough to make sure that Lucie’s trip was safe; Lucie’s life was saved, at what could have cost Ms. Pross her life. By Ms. Pross’s willingness to do anything for Lucie, Lucie’s life was saved.

Ultimately, it was the sacrifices made by people like Ms. Pross and Sydney Carton that allowed people to live. Through their numerous sacrifices, the value of life is measured in A Tale of Two Cities, and their sacrifices give life to a time that was filled with much more death than life. Just as Jesus’ sacrifice allowed people to have life, the sacrifices of Dr. Manette, Ms. Pross, and Carton allowed people to live.


Example 5

“The Awakening” by Kate Chopin tells the story of a woman trying to break free of her unsatisfying lifestyle. Several of the characters in the novel are confronted with change or new ideas as a result. Chopin creates several moral decisions for the reader to experience also. Marriage, infidelity, and sexual passion are all themes presented in Chopin’s novel.

Marriage is a theme throughout the novel. Edna Pontellier and her husband are not the ideal images of happiness or marriage. Edna is unhappy with her “normal” life and with her marriage. She often recalls in her mind the men of her past. She wonders if she would have been happier if she had married someone else. Chopin more than implies that Edna is not content in her marriage. Edna, more than once, goes outside of her marriage to find love and understanding.

In opposition, Leonce Pontellier is quite oblivious of his marriage. He acts as if the relationship between he and his wife is normal. He does, however, wish that Edna were more caring with their children. He goes about his work and sees no problem with Edna until she starts to have a life of her own. Only then is he concerned, not for her, but for what society may think of him. Mr. Pontellier’s idea of a wife is a woman that stays loyal to her husband, keeps his house in order, and takes care of his children.

Infidelity is also a major theme throughout the novel. Edna feels suffocated in her marriage to Leonce. She begins a friendship with Robert Lebrun in the beginning of the novel. He flirts with Edna and gives her the attention that her husband does not. In early twentieth-century fiction, or life, this type of behavior is not acceptable. Edna is willing to risk her reputation and the reputation of her family to carry out an affair with Robert.

After his departure, Edna still craves the attention she received from Robert. Alcee Arobin is her next love interest outside of her marriage. They both use each other for their own selfish reasons. For Edna, Alcee is only a temporary replacement for Robert. Alcee uses Edna not for emotional fulfillment, but physical. Edna’s infidelity throughout the novel reveals that she is not only self-pleasing but also is no longer conforming to society’s code of ethics.

Sexual passions are also common throughout Chopin’s novel. Her novel’s main character manages to have not one, but two extramarital affairs. Edna begins her relationships with Robert and Alcee with only flirtations and infatuations. However, she in both cases initiates sexual relationships. She and Robert have a passionate relationship.

They are very much in love. Robert loves and respects Edna so much that he leaves, trying to escape ruining her reputation and her family. After Robert leaves, Edna finds another man to satisfy her. She and Alcee Arobin begin sleeping with each other, although neither cares about the other. Edna seems to use Alcee as a substitute for Robert. Alcee just uses Edna for sex. They both use each other for their own selfish pleasures.


Example 6

Sacrifice is the ability to protect other people for their sake. Not yours. This has flaws if you were to think selfishly.

Your message sacrifice means that one thing is abandoned to benefit someone else. Sacrifices can be put into categories based upon what is being abandoned to be able to gain somebody else. In the following paragraphs, I’ll provide explanations concerning the sacrifices that folks have made like meals, time, convenience, and roles to be a parent. sacrifice has been ready to throw in the towel one thing best for one thing better.

Life is full of boundless possibilities, however in purchase to transform a chance into possible we have to select — sacrificing the many to attain usually the one. Nothing is gained without something relinquished. Sacrifice has meaning only in the context of a goal, dream, or mission.

In pursuing these, we usually face hurdles that need the united states to forfeit real or emotional comfort within the service of a thing that matters more. Usually, the higher the fantasy or vision, the more the provided sacrifice required to attain it. Sacrifice now is easier whenever we remain centered on that which we are choosing rather than what we are quitting.

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