Without Evil What’s Good
“If my devils are to leave me, I am afraid my angels will take flight as well.” Rainer Maria Rilke wrote this to explain the nature of humanity. He expressed his views on human behavior and how humans think. Without evil, one does not know exactly what goodness is. Everyone possesses good and evil qualities. For they are balanced and create stability in everyone. If the one doesn’t exist then humans would not be able to differentiate or comprehend whether their actions are right or wrong. In our nature life always presents two sides of a situation therefore, making us act and think the way we do every day.
In the beginning of the novel Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, there is a theme of society in which the boys begin to show order. Problems occur based on the sinful nature of man in desperate conditions. Jack and his hunters greatly illustrate the evil in human nature. Most of the story is made of the battle between good and evil through symbolism. While Ralph represented the good of the boys, Jack symbolized evil. Order is a great part of human behavior since it allows people to act upon rules and values. Ralph and Simon conducted order by guiding the boys. They built shelters and fires in order to stay civilized. As the novel began, they had rules and concerns and acted like civilized people who had some sort of governmental atmosphere. Ralph decided to choose a leader and every once in a while they would call assemblies. Ralph always seemed like the calmer on, but as time progressed he began to show his savage side towards Jacks group. At first, Jack would never think about killing a baby pig, yet later discover he is the first to turn into a savage hunter. Society was taken away from them and therefore they lost their values and innocent thoughts and began killing the other boys. Without knowing what bad was, none of them would feel guilty of what happened on their stay at the island. There is a great struggle between savage and civilization as the two groups of boys argue and try to live on their own until they are rescued.
In the same way, the novel Grendel, by John Gardner, reinforces the fact of evil and good in people. Grendel had both characteristics of human and of monster. He acts like a child and has the heart of one, yet he seems to have an evil monstrous aura to him as well. Towards the men in the mead hall, he is an outcast and his human quality of feeling lonely forced him to try to find a friend on land. They seemed to speak his language, although he didn’t understand why they didn’t understand him. Grendel wants to be friends with the men, although being a descendent of Cain, he decides to attack the mead hall instead. His evil monster side was that he wanted to kill and destroy the humans. He felt guilty at first when he did this, but discovered this is what he was meant to do to these people. When Grendel killed a man he knew it was bad because he had that good quality within him. The Dragon, who told Grendel that he was born a monster and therefore must be the monster and kill, influenced Grendel’s evil side. Whether the men were nice or not it was his destiny to be a monster. He wanted to be good, although he felt he needed to be evil. One needs both qualities in order to distinguish between them.
In contrasting views, there could be two different ideas symbolizing the nature of humans. The two poems by William Blake, “The Lamb” and “The Tyger”, represent the dual nature of humanity. “The Lamb,” although a simple poem, has a very deep meaning. For instance, the “lamb” shows innocence with words such as “delight”, “child”, and “tender voice”. The lamb is compared to an angelic figure. On the other hand, “The Tyger,” is expressed to be devilish with words such as “fire”, “hammer”, “chain”, and “furnace”. The Tyger asked God, “Did he who made the lamb make thee?” The Lamb asks “Little Lamb, who made thee? Dost thou know who made thee?” The Tyger questions God how he could make one evil like himself and make one good like the lamb.