Shame Creeps Through Guilt and Feels Like Retribution

Jeffrie G. Murphy

Arizona State University College of Law


Law & Phil., Vol. 18, p. 327, 1999

The stories of William Trevor often contain, near the end, a single sentence that captures – in one crystalline moment – a core insight toward which the story has been building all along. Near the end of his recent novel Death in Summer, the following sentence occurs:
“Her compassion faltered: shame creeps through guilt and feels like retribution.” I believe that my ability to understand the profundity of this sentence, and thus the story in which it occurs, was aided enormously by my reading of the essays of Herbert Morris. And thus, in my essay, I will reflect on the themes present in this sentence and thereby follow, in my own limited way, a path familiar to all those who have read Morris: drawing philosophical inspiration from literature, trying to be open to the moral and spiritual insights latent in dark and mysterious stories and sayings, reflecting on the inter- twined emotions of guilt and shame, and seeing – in all of this – implications for punishment and forgiveness, both of self and of others. In Morris’s own work, of course, these perspectives are all employed with great human sensitivity – employed by a person
whose compassion never seems to falter.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 18

Keywords: Punishment, guilt, forgiveness

Open PDF in Browser Download This Paper

Date posted: September 9, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Murphy, Jeffrie G., Shame Creeps Through Guilt and Feels Like Retribution (1999). Law & Phil., Vol. 18, p. 327, 1999. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1469696

Contact Information

Jeffrie G. Murphy (Contact Author)
Arizona State University College of Law ( email )
Box 877906
Tempe, AZ 85287-7906
United States
(480) 965-5856 (Phone)
(480) 965-2427 (Fax)
Feedback to SSRN

Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 468
Downloads: 30

© 2016 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollobot1 in 0.203 seconds