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A Unique Dichotomy: The Definition Of Good And Evil

1984 words - 8 pages

A prevailing truism is that nothing possesses the ability originate from its opposite or exist in the same entity as its opposite simultaneously. Life and death cannot survive together, ignorance cannot stem from knowledge. Yet good and evil, commonly assumed to be antitheses, harbor the capacity to subsist in the presence of one another. Moreover, the two ideas exist in all actions and humans themselves. Due to this coexistence, good and evil simply cannot occupy absolute definitions, but rather must be defined in comparison to one another. Thus, as elucidated by Gardner’s Grendel, Shakespeare’s Richard III, and Moore and Lloyd’s V for Vendetta, all people must experience a moral ...view middle of the document...

Furthermore, the Shaper’s songs malevolently convince Grendel of his dark and evil descent even though all ideas and symbols that make Grendel feel more bestial than soul-like repel him. Throughout chapter four of the novel, the archetype of darkness pervading prevails: “I could feel it all around me, that invisible presence, chilly as the first intimidation of death, the dusty unblinking eyes of a thousand snakes” (Gardner 50). This reference of snakes alludes to the evil serpent in Genesis tempting Adam and Eve to eat the fruit. In this way, Grendel’s true observation proves to be that temptation surrounds him as, in this moment, the dark forest is tormenting and persuading Grendel to become evil. Grendel tries to figure out the nature of evil and whether it resides in himself. Just as Grendel’s good is encompassed with evil, it permeates V’s life in V for Vendetta. V is a crusader and advocate for freedom under the Norsefire regime, yet in order to achieve his goals he must kill and destroy both objects and people, classifying him as a terrorist. Likewise, to Shakespeare’s Richard III the good in his villainous lifestyle only derives from that which results in his personal gain and success in becoming King, yet he must perform evil acts in order to obtain his idea of good.
Just as “good” people and actions can be “evil”, the contrary is also true. Both Grendel and Richard III represent the evil antagonists in their respective two works. However, Richard III did not drive himself toward immorality, but rather other people. They looked down upon him due to his deformity, and his feelings of monstrosity in his outward appearance are reflected in his feelings of internal evil. As he proclaims, “since I cannot prove a lover...I am determined to prove a villain” (1.1.28-30). Richard only decided to be evil because he felt that he could not be the converse. Similarly, Grendel was not initially malevolent toward the humans, but they immediately treated him as an enemy. The reader is able to sympathize with such a supposedly “evil” character as Grendel was simply lost and being evil gave him direction. Correspondingly, Adam Susan, leader of Norsefire, can be sympathized with as well as he truly believes that what he is acting in the best interest of the citizens of England; and in this way, V and Susan are not extremely different.
Because of the ambiguity between morality and immorality, the two must be relative. Neither V, the representation of freedom, nor Susan, the representation of fascism, is entirely good or evil; both ideas are present in both people. By utilizing this concept, Moore and Lloyd reveal the existence of blurred lines between good and evil. The “good” V strives to oppose the “evil” Norsefire, yet they can only possess these titles in comparison to one another. Similarly, the humans use Grendel’s evilness as a motivator as they endeavor to be good in opposition to him. The humans’ morality can only exist...

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