Dawn of Civilization, the Battle Between Good Essay

Pages: 4 (1699 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

¶ … dawn of civilization, the battle between good and evil has been part of the mythology and interconnected philosophies of human beings. From the Epic of Gilgamesh to the battles between Egyptian Gods, to the words of the Koran and the Bible, conceptions of the battle of good and evil abound in popular, philosophical, legal, and religious literature. Many theologians and scholars have tried to argue the creation of evil. They question if God created it or if man and his perversion of the good created the absence of "goodness," and therefore the necessity of evil. Add to this the human capacity for a sliding scale of evil (e.g. deception, lust, greed, avarice), and we have an epitome of the human condition. Three short stories all provide us with examples of good and evil, albeit in different degrees and forms: Flannery O'Connor's A Good Man is Hard to Find, Shirley Jackson's The Lottery, and The Necklace by Guy De Maupassant.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Essay on Dawn of Civilization, the Battle Between Good Assignment

In Flannery O'Connor's signature story, "A Good Man Is Hard To Find," the concept of evil is quite apparent. Through this short story, O'Connor typifies humans, their ability to embody both absolute good and absolute evil -- and numerous mannerisms in between. In various other stories, religious overtones are apparent in her portrayals of religious rites: baptism in "The River," selling of religion and what is the nature of sin in "Good Country People" -- themes that proliferate throughout her writing. Indeed, one of O'Connor's signature themes is the reversal of the typical interpretation of the Christian God -- one of a benevolent and grand "father." Instead, O'Connor redefines the divine-human relationship. O'Connor's God seems a bit of the puppet-master, but clay in the hands of the sculptor -- molding and changing the rules as seen fit. This juxtaposition is purposeful, though, O'Connor did not want to write stories to make the reader feel "good" about controversial things, and instead, she was intrigued with the hypocrisy of religion vs. faith, and completely gnawed at that demon inside the human spirit (Gretlund, et.al, 2006).

The Necklace tells the story of Madame Mathilde Loisel and her husband. When Mathilde was little, she always imagined herself in a high social position with wonderful jewels. However, when she grows up, she has nothing and marries a lowly clerk who is obsessed with making her happy. Through lots of begging at work, he is able to get two invitations to the Ministry of Education's party. Mathilde is upset, for she has nothing to wear. Using money that he was saving to buy a rifle, he lets Mathilde buy a fancy dress. Mathilde also wants jewels to wear with it. Since they have no money left, her husband suggests that she borrow something from her friend, Madame Jeanne Forestier. Mathilde picks out the fanciest jewel necklace that she can find. After attending the Ministry of Education's party, Mathilde finds out that she has lost the necklace. Mathilde and her husband then have to work for ten years to come up with the 36,000 francs to buy a replacement necklace. After losing everything, having to work, and forcing her husband to work two jobs, Mathilde sees Madame Forestier walking down the street and tells her that the necklace she returned to her was actually a replacement. Madame Forestier is surprised and tells Mathilde that the original necklace was actually a copy, worth only 500 francs.

Shirley Jackson's 1948 short story, The Lottery, first appeared in The New Yorker. This small piece became quite controversial, with a number of readers cancelling their subscriptions, hate mail arriving three months after publication, being banned in South Africa, and reaching international acclaim. The story contrasts commonplace details of contemporary life with a barbaric ritual known as the "lottery." The setting is a small town where the locals are in a strange and somber mood. Unusual things are observed, like children gathering stones, as the townsfolk assemble for their annual lottery. In the first round, the head of each family draws a small slip of paper; Bill Hutchinson gets the slip with the black spot, meaning that his family has been chosen. In the next round, each Hutchinson family member draws a slip, and Bill's wife Tessie -- the last person to show up at the lottery -- gets the marked slip. In keeping with tradition, which we learn has been abandoned by most other communities; Tessie Hutchinson is then stoned to death by everyone present as a sacrifice to ensure a good harvest.

Thematically, then -- what kinds of good and evil are represented in these three stories? Certainly, the concept of good and evil in The Lottery speaks of a communion with nature as old as humanity -- the good of the many outweighs the good of the few by sacrificing to Mother Nature, "It's not the way it used to be," Old Man Warner said clearly. "People ain't the way they used to be." Nostalgia and all -- if the community had faith that it was a ritual that kept the community alive, then their own cultural norms did not make the stoning of a sacrifice evil -- in fact, not carrying out the tradition would've been against the community as a whole. But, to outsiders, the practice was barbaric and clearly "unfair."

Good and evil in The Necklace comes from avarice and selfishness. But is it purposeful avarice and evil, or unintended? When Mme. Forestier takes the hand of Mathielde and says, "Oh my poor Mathilde! Why, my necklace was paste. It was worth at most five hundred francs." One is left with the feeling that someone was not quite upfront -- but Mme. Loisel was uncommunicative, and her husband simply an enabler.

The question of good and evil in A Good Man is Hard to Find is much more apparent. The family is described as a typical modern family, problems and bickering abound. Agreeing with each other is one of the biggest problems the family faces. The story starts of where Grandma is in disagreement with her son about the destination of the next family trip, finally deciding on Florida. The story makes a twist when their car gets into an accident and they have an encounter with Misfit, aptly named. His disfigurement is not physical; however, it is a deformity of his mind. His cruelty results from his need for proof of Jesus' resurrection. Without proof of Christ's rising from the dead, he validates his behavior by stating, "Jesus was the only One that ever raised the dead, and He shouldn't have done it. He thrown everything off balance. If He did what He said, then it's nothing for you to do but throw away everything and follow him, and if He didn't, then it's nothing for you to do but enjoy the few minutes you got left the best way you can- by killing somebody or burning down his house or doing some other meanness to him. No pleasure but meanness."

The Misfit receives joy and pleasure from hurting and harming others; O'Connor saying that people tend to show Evil yet hide the goodness within them, but after something evil occurs, the focus becomes on the capacity for good. Grandma and the Misfit are two complex people -- but do form the balance of light and dark, good and evil, and the capacity for each. Misfit is clearly evil -- he kills the whole family. Grandma, all the way through the story, shows goodness in her overzealous attitude towards others, but fights evil by telling Misfit that, "You've got good Blood!" And that he wouldn't shoot a lady. The most reasonable interpretation of these two characters is that they represent O' Connor's view on evil in society -- pervasive, encompassing, and hiding, waiting for… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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