Religion and Trauma in William Golding’s The Spire

By: Joyanta Dangar

Abstract: The Spire (1964) is a novel about Jocelin, Dean of an English cathedral in the fourteenth century, who thinks that God has selected him to build a spire on his cathedral and carries it out to an impending disaster, despite his mason’s warning that the cathedral is built without adequate foundations. This article is intended to explore Jocelin’s madness in terms of moral trauma and/or what Marlene Winell calls “Religious trauma syndrome (RTS).” Besides experiencing delusions, dreams and hallucinations as symptoms of trauma, Jocelin re-enacts the dualities of psychomachy while building the spire. His insidious and chronic psychological suffering may be ascribed to the religious indoctrination of his age. His trauma also conforms to Lenore Terr’s definition of “Type II” trauma.