Throughout the years the theme of good versus evil has been used in various novels. Such as Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Benito Cereno by Herman Melville. Both novels have accurately demonstrated the origins of evil. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein supports Rousseau’s philosophy of the Noble Savage. Rousseau’s theory was that man was born good, but when influenced by society man can become corrupted with evil. The character that signifies Rousseau” theory of the Noble Savage is Victor Frankenstein’s creature.
The creature was gentle at the beginning of his like, childlike in his curiosity and experience but after several harsh encounters with humans he becomes bitter. Loneliness and isolation motivate the monster to turn to destruction. It was his loneliness that made him savage. An example of society’s rejection toward the monster would be the De Lacey family. The monster desired the friendship of the De Lacey family and went about seeking ways to gain it by doing small chores for them anonymously and educating himself so they would see past his horrid appearance.
He watched their family together and saw the way they loved each other. He hoped they had enough charity in their hearts for him because he was a singular creature with no home or family, a being alone in the world. He wasn”t an emotionless beast indifferent to his solitary state. He was sensitive and very aware of the isolation he experienced, so he wanted to reach out to the De Lacey family to end his loneliness. Frankenstein his creator was the reason the monster was lonely because he had created him as the only one of his kind and then abandoned him. The De Lacey family was the monster’s chance for love.
However, when he seeks their affection they are afraid of him and their scorn sends him away. This enraged the monster he wanted to make Frankenstein pay for his insensitivity. His desire for revenge took greater precedence over his desire for companionship. The anger and vengeance he exhibited to sought out Frankenstein were a result of the loneliness and rejection the monster had been subject throughout his life. Only when the monster had been subject to society’s scornful attitudes which led him to loneliness and isolation did the monster become angry and vengeful.
If society hadn”t have reacted in a negative manner the monster wouldn”t have been destructive, because ultimately the monster was good inside. Another example of the origins of evil would be Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno. This story supports Hobb’s theory, which is that man is born with the ability to be evil. The characters that closely represent Hobb’s theory would be Babo and the slaves. Under Benito Cereno’s weak leadership they revolted and took over the slave ship. What started out to be a slave ship turned out to be a slaughter ship of the white sailors. The slaves were upset and possessed hatred for the white sailors.
During the revolt instead of capturing the sailors they took it to the extreme. In the eyes of the reader the slaved are no longer human they have become animalistic and evil. The slaves took it to the extreme by murdering and torturing sailors. They murdered the captain of the ship and hung his body from the top of the ship. They threw sailors overboard alive. They went beyond what is considered acceptable. They were truly evil and possessed the ability to be evil and animalistic. Therefore the stories of Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein discussed the origins of evil through Rousseau’s and Hobb’s theories.