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Love Is Evil: A Midsummer Night’s Dream By Williams Shakespeare

1142 words - 5 pages

“There is no evil angel but Love.” While that specific quote is from one of William

Shakespeare’s plays A Midsummer Night’s Dream, love has been the evil mastermind behind

several, if not all, of Shakespeare’s infamous tragedies. Take Hamlet for example; the tragedy of

Hamlet would not be a tragedy if it were not for anguished love. Feeling, seeing, hearing, and

ultimately experiencing love can have multiple effects on a person, or many people for that

matter—even one’s not directly involved. Love is a seemingly altruistic emotion. Not everyone

has a friendly encounter with love because of its deceivingly ability to bring out the foulest of

evils in everyone. How, though, can something so delight be so ultimately evil? One could only

begin to comprehend this puzzling question by, first, understanding the true meaning of evil and

the multiple conceptions of it, then, making the connection between love and evil.

Phillip Cole, a well-known philosopher, has four major conceptions of evil. The first

being the “monstrous” conception of evil; “according to which the agent who freely chooses to

pursue human suffering for its own sake thereby becomes, or perhaps already is, a creature

distinct from normal human beings, a monster” (Garrard, McNaughton 4). The monstrous

conception of evil is displayed in act two, scene two of Hamlet. Hamlet begins to exert insults

upon Polonius. After consistently draining Polonius of all of his logic, Hamlet proceeds to guilt

trip Polonius in saying “You can’t take anything from me that I care less about—except my life,

except my life, except my life” (Crowther, 9). Even though the topic of love seems far from the

center of their conversation, if the love that both Polonius and Hamlet had for Ophelia wasn’t

present, there would’ve been no conversation at all. And as if bashing Polonius with that insane

statement wasn’t enough, after Polonius respectfully responds to Hamlet, Hamlet gives Polonius

a final, hateful sayonara. “Those boring old fools!” exclaimed Hamlet, as he tips off his

monstrous streak of evil.

Cole’s second conception of evil is “pure” evil, stating that “in which evil doers are those

who pursue human suffering for its own sake, but they aren’t sharply differentiated from other

human beings—the capacity for pure or absolute evil is within all of us” (Garrard, McNaughton

4). The pure conception of evil is shown in act five, scene one of Hamlet. Laertes and Hamlet

both jump into Ophelia’s grave (Crowther, 10). Laertes does so because of the torturous pain he

is encountering from his sister’s death, whereas Hamlet leapt into her grave to, in a sense, “show

up” Laertes. Hamlet acted out in such a way only because he wanted to over exaggerate his

emotions to look more emotionally distraught than he actually was. He was being incredibly

selfish, therefore, turning into a “monster”. What does love have to do with this? Everything. If

Laertes did not...

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