My independent reading book was A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. This novel covered many topics, and mainly was a social commentary on the troubled culture and society of post Second World War England. Evil is a very important tool used by Burgess, mainly in the thematic sense. A Clockwork Orange uses Evil in the theme of Good vs. Evil. The question in the novel is if forced good is better than chosen evil. Alex, the narrator, goes through a metamorphosis, from choosing evil, to being forced to be good, and then once again Alex chooses evil. Burgess leaves it up to the reader to decide which is more ethical, even though he does heavily support, with subtle details and motifs, that free will, even it results in a chosen evil is better than a forced good.“Is a man who chooses the bad perhaps in some way better than a man who has the good imposed on him”(Burgess 95)? Evil is also used in the novel to show the darker side of humanity, the side that allowed the narrator to rape, beat, rob, and terrorize innocent people in the city, with his band of thugs or so called “droogs”. The novel, because of this evil is repulsive, disgusting, and unsavory, and after reading more than 15 pages, the reader is left with a sick feeling simply because of the content being discussed. Evil is a powerful force, apparent in everything from literature to the nightly news, and no matter how much we try to reassure ourselves that evil will never touch us, it will, and A clockwork Orange is a perfect example of the ever present and permeating nature of evil.
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Posted by jabramson2014 on January 7, 2014
In the book Frankenstein by Mary Shelly, Evil is a very important concept. Evil in the book is usually stems from one of two characters, Frankenstein or his monster. The question is, who is truly responsible for this evil? For example, the murder of Frankenstein’s brother is certainly an act of evil. It is established that the monster killed William, but is he really responsible for his actions? I would say that while the monster did strangle young William, he is not truly responsible for the act of evil he committed. Frankenstein, at least in my view, is truly responsible. First of all, he created the monster, and second of all, Frankenstein instead of embracing and accepting his own creation, ran away disgusted from his creation, making a monster instead of a being. Also, Frankenstein is directly responsible for the death of Justine because he didn’t reveal the identity of the actual murderer (even though he knew the monster was the killer) and let Justine die so that he didn’t have to tell his family about his own wrongdoings. Frankenstein, not his monster is responsible for the evil in this book since he created a monster (from what could of been a peaceful being) and cares more about being viewed as capable of no wrong than the life of another human being. Not only did he set the monster along an evil track, Frankenstein allowed the death of his young brother to go avenged in a court of law and let someone else, an innocent, take the blame and the punishment for his own creation, and by extension, himself.
“Oh, Frankenstein, be not equitable to every other and trample upon me alone, to whom thy justice, and even thy clemency and affection, is most due. Remember, that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed” (Shelly 97).
Posted by jabramson2014 on November 20, 2013
Throughout time, evil has been thought to manifest itself in evil actions carried out on purpose; it is the evil that drives people to commit horrible acts. When you think about it however, does a murder simply get up in the morning and the morning and say, ” I really feel like killing someone today”? Or are these actions driven by defects in our own brains, giving the wrong doer no choice but to carry out evil acts? Nueroscientists the world over, who are studying the mechanisms of evil in the brain say Evil doesn’t really exist in the human psyche. Instead it is some mis-firing of synapses or some genetic disorder causing these “evil” tendencies. “Autonomous, conscious decision-making itself may well be an illusion. And thus intentional evil is impossible.”. This is quite a new idea and it really makes you think about what is truly going on when someone commits a crime of some horrible magnitude. This idea brings up a whole new slew of questions. For example, did Hitler kill so many people because he wanted to, or because his brain was working incorrectly? Up to what point can a horrendous act be played up to faulty brain chemistry? Can individuals truly, conscientiously commit a bad act, or is it due to what’s going on in their brain? This is a very important idea, especially in today’s society, where this idea can be possibly used in a court case. So what do you think, is evil real, or do people commit acts of evil because of dysfunctional neurons?
Posted by jabramson2014 on November 14, 2013
Evil is a very important concept in most religions, with Christianity being a prime example of how evil is used in religion. When someone says evil in reference to Christianity, we normally think of Hell and or Satan. Satan embodies evil along with temptation and sin in Christianity. Hell is Satan’s domain where all the sinners go after they have died. Both Satan and Hell, in pop-culture, history, and literature are viewed as pure evil. Almost everyone knows that if you sin, (at least by the church’s standards) you are going to hell and may in fact meet Satan or one of his minions. Now that we have established that Satan, Hell, and evil are all interconnected and are very prominent in the bible, why would such evil ideas be in a book and religion that is trying to teach humility, charity, peace, and virtue? The idea of Satan and Hell and the evil they represent are used in the church as a consequence for going against what the church deems acceptable. For example, non-believers, along with sinners and others will go to hell and spend the rest of eternity being tortured by some malignant beast lurking in the depths of the lake of fire. By preaching that if you sin, you are going to hell , the church and it’s hierarchy are pushing it’s followers away from temptation and sin. The church uses Satan, Hell, and the evil that they represent as a tool of sorts to put leverage on it’s followers to tend to stay away from temptation and sin, acting as a counterbalance to the righteousness, and pureness that God and Heaven represent. It’s a spectrum of sorts with Satan on the evil pole, and God on the virtuous side, and how you act decides where you end up going after you die.
Posted by jabramson2014 on November 14, 2013
Humans, at least in some sense are attracted to evil. Whether it is in the media, the past, or in literature, evil always spikes human curiosity.This not odd being that from a young age we are told tales about murder, monsters, and cannibalism in the polite and convenient form of fairy tales. Now the question is, if we are so repulsed and disgusted by evil acts and ideas, why are we so drawn to them? The whole answer to this question lies somewhere deep in the human psyche, and in this blogpost I can only begin to scratch the surface. I believe that humans are interested in evil because we all seek something that we do not have. To most, evil is not part of their daily life and to see it in others in one of the most interesting things, to observe something so foreign, but still part of all of our natures. For example, the hit TV show, Breaking Bad is so popular not because everyone who watches it is in some way hooked on crystal methamphetamine, but because all of the fans like to see something so radically different and dangerous and still in some way be able to relate to the characters or actions. Humans are not attracted to evil because they want to do harm to others or commit some evil act, humans are attracted to evil because we are interested in the exotic dealings of life, the dealings that distract us from our repetitive days.
” They were big and little creatures. Some were hairy with long, thin tails, and some had noses long as pokers. Some had bulging eyes and some had 20 toes. In they came — crashing through the door, sliding down the chimney, crawling through the windows. They shouted and cried. They banged pots and pans. They twirled their tails and tapped their toes upon the wooden floor. He watched as the trolls gobbled the food and threw the plates and drank everything in sight. They continued to shout and scream, to scratch the walls and pound the floors and slap their tails upon the table. The tiny trolls were the worst of all. They screamed at the top of their lungs and pulled each others’ tails.”
~The Brothers Grimm
Posted by jabramson2014 on November 1, 2013
In today’s modern media, particularly in the movies, evil ideas are morphed into funny, laughable situations and ideas. One of the more prominent examples of this phenomena is in the Austin Power movies, with focus on Dr. Evil. In these movies, Dr. Evil threatens to destroy the world, kill all those who oppose him, and destroy society as we know it, all of which are real world threats and problems, in the present day and in history. Regardless of the severity of Dr Evils threats and actions, the audience laughs, chuckles, and giggles in response. Do we as Human beings really think that world domination and extermination is humorous, or do we try to pick out the lighter, less serious points of things? Another example of how we as humans think evil is funny is the Scary Movies, which make farces of scary movies which frighten audiences with ideas of evil and terror. When we see the devil attacking someone in a horror movie, we scream and cringe, but when we see it in the Scary Movie series, we laugh until we cry. I sincerely do not think that humans find anything about evil to be funny, but rather we as humans try to look at the lighter points of films and media only because we deal with evil so much in our own society and need a break. Gang wars, kidnappings, murders, school shootings, and global threats occur regularly, and to balance out this evil, we need to make fun of it or poke holes in it, if only to keep sane. For example “The details of my life are quite inconsequential… very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen year old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink. He would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Sometimes he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy. The sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament. My childhood was typical. Summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring we’d make meat helmets. When I was insolent I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds- pretty standard really. At the age of twelve I received my first scribe. “. In this quote alone, a man described his childhood being raised by a drunk womanizer and a french prostitute, and being shoved in a burlap bag and being beaten with reeds. Out of context, these actions would be viewed as criminal, evil, and negligent. But read it in context, and you will find yourself laughing hysterically. Child abuse for gods sake is being described in the above passage and all we can do is laugh. In my view this is because we need an escape, a way to make fun of what truly disgusts and offends us.
Posted by jabramson2014 on November 1, 2013
The question of whether or not Human nature is inherently evil is a question that has echoed through the halls of time. Many religions, philosophers, and scholars have tried to answer this question, all of them coming up with different results. Christianity represents one end of the spectrum, the side that says that evil is part of Human nature, even going as far to say all humans are born evil, being that all humans ” turned from God, sinned and now need a Savior to bridge our separation from Him.”. Christianity and it’s ideology represents the belief that all humans have original sin and are born evil and in life need to repent for their prenatal sin. The Jewish faith on the other hand believes that ” man enters the world free of sin, with a soul that is pure and innocent and untainted”. The Jews and their ideas represent the other end of the spectrum, saying that Man is born into the world free of sin( which religions use as an analogue to evil) and that he taints himself with evil. Where exactly do I stand on this issue? I stand in the middle of the spectrum, and I think that evil is a product of it’s environment. To me, we are all born with the capacity to do evil, just like we’re born with the capacity to use our lives to do great things and change our world for the better. However, when people get in a mob mentality in the right circumstances, there is no telling what can occur. For example, the Salem Witch trials is a stain of blood in the soil of New England, with the evil deeds perpetrated persisting throughout time. It happened because stress, religion, old world ideas, and mob mentality, a recipe for disaster, combined at the right time and the right place. There is some recipe for evil that is hidden somewhere in human nature, but only in the right circumstances will it rear its ugly head. Until some gene or combination of them pinpoints evil in the human genome, the question of whether or not Evil is part of Human nature will be answered with a different response every time it is asked.
Posted by jabramson2014 on October 18, 2013
Throughout the world, the idea of evil exists, and some acts are generally considered as evil such as murder and rape. The question however is that does our culture and society modify our view of evil. For example, rape, the world over is a crime that is considered so evil that in some cultures, rape is punishable by death. Rape is an evil act and one can see that the idea that it is evil is not different from society to society or culture to culture. On the other hand, the idea of genocide and murder being evil is modified by our culture and society. An example would be the Holocaust. The rest of the world was appalled at the evil actions that occurred, but the Nazi Germans killed 11 million people because they were conditioned by their society made of propaganda and slander. Another example would be the Rwandan Genocide, where Hutu’s killed 500,000 to 1,000,000 Tutsi’s. It should be noted that those who carried out these genocides did not think of what they were doing as evil. That in particular is what is so troubling. Certain acts can be committed by one population and not be a problem but are considered evil by all others. Evil in some forms can be modified by Society or Culture.
Posted by jabramson2014 on October 7, 2013
The word evil, meaning profoundly immoral and malevolent has traveled through the ages and along the way, like so many other words, has picked up extra connotations, and has morphed at least slightly. The modern use of evil is often to indicate the impact or gravity of a crime, for example the recent shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary. President Obama described the events that had befallen Newtown as evil, “As a community, you’ve inspired us, Newtown. In the face of indescribable violence, in the face of unconscionable evil” and “no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world”. The traditional use of the word is is the human urge to do something malign and despicable, “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”. Despite these minuscule modifications, the main meaning of the word evil has stayed the same and it represents action and events actions and or events so heinous that no other words can aptly describe them.
Posted by jabramson2014 on September 28, 2013
“Old English yfel (Kentish evel) “bad, vicious, ill, wicked,” from Proto-Germanic *ubilaz (cf. Old Saxon ubil, Old Frisian and Middle Dutch evel, Dutch euvel, Old High German ubil, German übel, Gothic ubils), from PIE *upelo-, from root *wap- (cf. Hittite huwapp- “evil”).”
“In OE., as in all the other early Teut. langs., exc. Scandinavian, this word is the most comprehensive adjectival expression of disapproval, dislike or disparagement” [OED]. Evil was the word the Anglo-Saxons used where we would use bad, cruel, unskillful, defective (adj.), or harm, crime, misfortune, disease (n.). The meaning “extreme moral wickedness” was in Old English, but did not become the main sense until 18c. Related: Evilly. Evil eye (Latin oculus malus) was Old English eage yfel. Evilchild is attested as an English surname from 13c.”
“That the contrary of a good is an evil is shown by induction: the contrary of health is disease, of courage, cowardice, and so on.”
~The Categories by Aristotle
“Before he was condemned they had often held discussions, in which they agreed that no man should either do evil, or return evil for evil, or betray the right.”
~Crito by Plato
“And nothing evil groweth in thee any longer, unless it be the evil that groweth out of the conflict of thy virtues.”
~Thus Spake Zarathustra: A Book For All And None by Friedrich Nietzsche
“The city has fallen on evil days.”
Evil, in it’s most modern and common usage is used to describe an action, person, or event so morally incomprehensible that no other word can describe the malignancy of the action, person, or event. Evil is not simply an adjective or noun used in the English language, it is an idea as well, a summation of the malevolent half of the human conscience, the half that enables humans to murder and rape, the half that allowed the German populace to turn the other cheek and ignore the Holocaust, that allowed them to ignore the mass murders that occurred mere miles away from some of the biggest cities in Germany. It is an idea that was manipulated by philosophers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Aristotle, and Plato. Our idea of Evil has sent men to war, it has motivated nations, and it has broken down great nations and people, the likes of which the world will never bear witness to again. Evil is the father, bringer and emperor of all human maladies.
“All concerns of men go wrong when they wish to cure evil with evil.”
~Sophocles , The Sons of Aleus
Posted by jabramson2014 on September 21, 2013