There has to be evil so that good can prove its purity above it – Buddha. Humanity’s thinking is conditioned by the ideals of the society around it. In order to run functionally the masses of society must support and uphold society’s ideals. So society names acceptable, or encouraged, ideals good and the actions society disallows or forbids are called evil. Every day we see atrocious acts committed on the news.
Even when the world condemns acts of evil they still occur, One then wonders why crimes are committed, whether these sins are an act of nature (that the perpetrator is born with certain evils) or is it instead that society has taught these people to be hateful and commit crimes, with this uncertainty In mind I set about investigating the questions; are humans inherently evil? Is there such thing as ‘moral goodness’? And how do two Modern Classic Texts, ‘The Lord of the Flies’ and ‘The Crucible’, reflect real life contemporary issues?Order now
The sociological choices within ‘The Lord of the Flies’ reflects the evils of real life societal flaws. William Golding’s ‘The Lord of the Flies’ is a novel based on the exploits of a group of boys aged from six to twelve who are stranded on an island in a time which the world has sunk into nuclear war, the novel follows their paths as they attempt to create a functioning society on the island. The age of the boys is significant because they are old enough to know what is deemed right and wrong by the cultural rules of the society they grew up in but they were young enough that they hadn’t had the morals of society drilled upon them so strongly as to not be able to ignore or disobey them without complete guilt of conscience.
Golding makes the reader ask himself the age old question of whether Nature or Nurture is responsible for the evil within us. By eliminating the nurturing influence of our society in ‘The Lord of the Flies’ (by stranding the boys) he can show that the boys will demonstrate evil not because of societies influence on them but instead, as Golding puts it, because “they have the disease of being human.”
The reader can empathize with the group of boys because the reader sees their actions as being realistic and plausible, The traits shown by the boys are similar to the undesirable traits that children may exhibit before manners are taught to them, for example Maurice throwing sand at Percival is similar to the experiences of my life where kids have flicked sand into each others eyes at playgrounds, towards the climax of the novel the boys completely disregard their highest moral and commit the epitome of evil in killing Piggy on impulse, The evil of the situation is explained by the narrative, describing Ralph, the only boy who still believes in our society’s ideals, in the quote; “Ralph wept for the end of innocence and for the darkness within man’s heart.”
I believe that their evil is only an extreme exaggeration of flicking sand to hurt somebody, the boys no longer support the morals of society so the act of murder is no more evil than flicking sand, the boys are misguided maybe but not inherently evil. I believes that Golding is trying to say that evil lies within each of us irrelevant of our experiences, however I think that it is experiences which completely define our concept of evil, because without experiences we wouldn’t know what evil was or how to avoid it.
I believe the boys’ freedom to make decisions on the island without fear of reprimand or consequence is what shows that their true psyche is not to resort to what Golding would define as being evil acts but to doing what they please without notion of whether their actions are good or evil because it doesn’t matter to them either way. I think this is similar to real life Crimes where a perpetrator or perpetrators from a lower end of society who have received in adequate love or advice aren’t remorseful for crimes they have committed because they haven’t grasped fully that the crime is wrong.
In the crucible we see a spectrum of good and evil actions. John Proctor, the protagononist in ‘The Crucible’ shows elements of goodness and evil. He shows elements of self-defined evil by committing adultery early in the play, however later on he shows great remorse for his evil. I don’t believe from this evidence that Proctor is inherently evil he just committed an evil action. I think that people may make poor choices, but it does not make them evil, there is always a capacity for good within people and Proctors recognition of his evil and his plead to god for redemption shows his good equally as much as his adultery shows his evil.
The Capacity for good is also shown by proctor later in the play when many in the town are convicted of witchcraft by the town officials, the madness shown in Salem has been repeated throughout history, as mankind will disregard their morals to ensure their own safety, however although most men would lie and confess that they were witches Proctor refused to give up his dignity and would sacrifice his life rather than sign his name to a lie which was unjust, I think this demonstrates impeccable good from proctor to die for a cause is the ultimate sacrifice and to die for a good cause takes courage, and courage is a form of moral goodness.