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The Forms Of Literary Evil Essay

1096 words - 5 pages

What exactly is evil? Is it a tangible object or just an unperceivable idea? There are many theories to these two simple questions anywhere from a physical evil presence to one’s personal concept of what is evil to them. In literature, evil can take many different forms, including physical evil, inner evil, and a combination of the two. No matter what mode it takes though, the presence of evil in literature has always been influential in the plot and always has the same ending: death.
One of the most distinct and obvious forms of evil in literature is physical evil and this takes the forms of many things from the Grim Reaper to monsters. The latter of the two is what we see in the ...view middle of the document...

The next form of evil we see in literature is much harder to analyze because it is the inner evil within the characters. For examples of this inner evil we can look at the Pardoner’s Tale from the Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, and more specifically we can look at the three main characters. These three characters are “three wild, young men” (Chaucer) that have considerable amounts of evil in their hearts and alcohol to cloud their judgment. The first example of their evil is their arrogance. This arrogance was enough for them to say “We will kill this traitor Death, I say!” (Chaucer) and set off looking for him. Next we see the men’s second type of evil which is their disrespect as they yelled “What, old fool?” to the poor man on the road (Chaucer). The final of their internal evil tributes is their greed as they find “a pile of golden coins” (Chaucer) and then kill each other so they can get more when they could have easily shared (Chaucer). All three of these are signs of internal evil within the main characters, yet once again just like the physical evil the internal factors of evil play an equally important role. Without the boys arrogance and disrespect then they would have never gone looking for death or found the gold. Without their greed then they would have learned nothing from their other two evils because they would have not met the end result of all evil: Death. Like physical evils, internal evils are just as important to the plot and once again lead to death.
Some stories have not only internal evils, but also physical evils that play just as much of a factor in the plot. One story that contains both of the forms of evil is Macbeth. First you have the physical evil which in Macbeth takes place in the form of witches. You know these witches are bad news when you see they directly serve and talk to the goddess of witchcraft, Hecate (Macbeth. Act IV. Scene i). It is also pretty common knowledge in today’s society that witches automatically are associated...

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