Mr Pye and Do-Goodery
Mervyn Peake's novel ‘Mr Pye’ is a wonderful fable on the perils of do-goodery.
Bringing boundless wisdom and benevolence to the island of Sark Mr Pye ends up, much to his own disgust, turning into a winged angel.
What is at the root of his strange fall is his own pride, his determination to not just be good - but to look good.
Several symptoms of his prideful benevolence shine though the pages of the novel:
- Unlike Christ, Mr Pye never asks the person he is about to help whether he really wants his assistance.
- Power is never questioned. Confident in his own benevolence and greater wisdom he treats people as puppets - at times quite literally.
- God becomes the "Great Pal" - always smiling, always present. Only in his final reconciliation with God does he experience any fear and trembling.
Do-goodery is not good. Goodness follows the path of justice: it is always respectful, humble and mindful that any good that is done never really came from the self anyway.