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 The Nature of the Beast: An Examination of Evil

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Grand Senior Literati

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PostSubject: The Nature of the Beast: An Examination of Evil   Thu Jul 16, 2009 4:08 am

This is an essay I wrote a while ago discussing evil using references from 'Frankenstein' and 'A Clockwork Orange'.

The Nature of the Beast: An Examination of Evil

In Frankenstein, evil is personified as a monster. A monster, though, is supposed to be evil. Disobedience and denial of self are likewise viewed as evil in their own right. So, is something labeled as a monster, or labeled as evil, trapped? Do they have to be evil? If they continue forward upon the path set before them, they are evil. If they fight their nature, disobey, and deny themselves, they are evil as well.
So, is an evil thing, created evil, actually evil when doing what it was created for? Many people believe that trying to hide who you really are is an evil that far outweighs any other, myself included. To me, there is much more beauty in truth than there is truth in beauty. As long as you are who you are, I, among many others, will be much happier than if you attempted to hide your true self. What is an evil thing to do when faced with views like these? In A Clockwork Orange, the opposite of this is explored.
Evil is represented by a child named Alex. He fights, he uses drugs, he commits acts of rape and violence, but then, through a series of events, is forced to reform. The term ‘forced’ takes on a whole new meaning as, via brain washing, Alex begins to get sick every time he thinks of doing something deplorable. But, in the absence of free will, is Alex really good? Or is he still evil? His thoughts try to be evil, but are forced to be good.
As another example, what of a man who is forced into an act of deplorable evil, for the greater good? This all comes back to one question; What is evil? It is a question nearly impossible to answer, because to do so, one must define “good”. This seems similar, to me, to attempting to explain the color red to someone born blind. Many people equate good with virtue, but they are different things, if only for the fact that virtues vary from person to person.
Think of someone who was a true sadist, whom only found enjoyment in causing others pain. Would he or she see virtues as you do? Would he or she even see them as another sadist would? It is human nature to do what we enjoy, and so, is a sadist really evil? He or she does what makes them happy, and are judged for it. Who is anyone to say they can’t do what they enjoy? That would be akin to someone telling any of us that we couldn’t do the things we enjoy. Granted, the things we enjoy may not cause harm to others, but there are masochists who enjoy being caused pain, and still sadism is viewed as an evil thing, “sadistic” being used as an insult by thousands of people all the time. Many would argue, as I explained before, that denying your true self is among the most horrible things that can be done.
There are many who view self-betrayal as many do murder. So, from this standpoint, both the monster and Alex are actually good; they do not deny themselves, unless forced. But in most senses, they still are evil. Would there be more or any less evil in Alex’s execution? Or in the monster’s death at the hands of the stoning crowd? All this, for acting the way that came naturally to them. If the monster tried to enter normal society, based upon the fear instilled in many people he comes into contact with, such as the family in the cottage, even whom he cared about, he would certainly be destroyed. When a reformed Alex re-entered the society he once helped destroy, he is scorned and rejected, beaten on several occasions and there are several attempts on his life. Could all of this be a metaphor for the thought that self-betrayal is worse than anything?
Everything is evil at some point. Look, for example, at children. They react to most situations in an “evil” manner, because they “don’t know any better.” Which means, to me at least, that humans are at the very least born “evil”, and taught to be good later. This, though, is obviously against our natural instincts, which, to some, makes us evil in itself. So, like Alex, being taught to do good, does not make us good, from everyone’s point of view. Does that make us trapped, like the monster or the sadist? I have come to the conclusion that nothing on this earth can be entirely good, or entirely evil. Look, for instance, at the Christian God.
God created himself, or so it is presented, and established himself as the epitome of good, thus defining the opposite end of the spectrum as well, thusly; anyone to oppose God would be, by proxy, the epitome of evil. And God himself cast Satan down, thus making him his enemy, and thus establishing him as the epitome of evil. This doesn’t sound like something the epitome of “good” would do to me. The Christian God, the epitome of all things good, had created, by his own hand, something so evil that it became the epitome of the term. This says to me, that God is not entirely good, which makes Satan, his exact opposite by proxy, not entirely evil.
There are no things looked at as being better than God, or more vile than Satan, which, to me, proves that there are no absolutes in good and evil. I also believe that good and evil may only exist without the presence of free will.
In Frankenstein, given the monster’s history and appearance, do you really think he could be a normal, functioning member of society? So, he is forced to his nefarious ways, out of both bitterness, and lack of option. Does this make him evil? Alex in A Clockwork Orange is obviously not a functioning member of society, and is forced, literally, to reform his ways, but does that make him good? Both of these examples occur only in the absence of freewill. Both of these creatures become epitomes of good and evil, but they are turned into such epitomes. They did not become so on their own.
Upon this information, I base my conclusion, that there is nothing completely good nor evil in the absence of free will. And considering free will is, and always will be, a factor in human society, there is neither good nor evil, there is no black, there no white; only gray.
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