An essay I wrote discussing the nature of good and evil using references from A Clockwork Orange and Frankenstein.
Nature of the Beast: An Examination of Evil
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.