What are 6 texts, in relation to a thesis of "Does good always trump evil?"I am looking for 6 texts to refer to in an essay I am writing. I need 3 texts which demonstrate Good surpassing Evil, and...

What are 6 texts, in relation to a thesis of "Does good always trump evil?"

I am looking for 6 texts to refer to in an essay I am writing. I need 3 texts which demonstrate Good surpassing Evil, and 3 other texts where Evil overcomes Good. All and any help is appreciated beyond words. Thankyou very much!

P.S, I don't think I've said please yet, so, please! Thanks again! :)

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

I would also suggest John Steinbeck's East of Eden. Beginning with the title, we know that a primary thesis of the novel will be the struggle between good and evil. The title comes from the biblical verse in Genesis, 4:16, which reads,

So Cain left the LORD's presence and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

Cain, as the story goes, has killed his brother, Able, and must leave the presence of God.

In Steinbeck's narrative, Adam Trask (note the biblical allusion here... "Adam" and "Trask, i.e., Task) is a lonely bachelor who ends up marrying a woman who is the epitome of evil. So blinded is he by her beauty, Adam fails to recognize her nature. Despite very compelling evidence, Adam takes on Cathy as his wife and moves away, to disasterous consequences.

Juxtaposed to the Trask family are the Hamiltons, who embody good. Samuel and his wife Liza try deseperately to make Adam see that there is such a thing as true evil in the world, and that Cathy is it.

Steinbeck's thesis is wound around the concept of "tishmel," which he translates from the Hebrew as "Thou mayest." In this word is the concept of free will. Both evil and good are present in the world but free will allows us to choose which path we follow.

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

I'm going to take a different route in answering your question and suggest you look at some of the more popular horror texts written in this past century.  A surprising suggestion, eh?  I think the best example from this group could surely be The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty.  (This book, of course, was turned into the iconic horror film that still tops most lists of top horror films of all time.)

Apart from being completely rooted in my own religion (Roman Catholicism), the book scares the living you-know-what out of me because of the connection to the real story (of a boy, actually) who had a successful exorcism performed upon him as well as the absolute atrocities the demonic inhabitant of Regan causes her to perform.  I have never read anything more spiritually disturbing, especially the graphic description of the "black mass" that isn't more than hinted at in the film.

To approach your actual topic, though, part of the reason why I am continually uplifted by this novel is because good absolutely and wholeheartedly triumphs in the end.  In fact, it's not only "good" that triumphs, ... it's GOD who triumphs!  The little girl, Regan, is saved from the demon possessing her (despite all of his/their threats against her).  More importantly, though, is the reason why she is saved.  It is Father Karras himself, the same Father Karras who spent the first part of the novel in a faith crisis, who not only becomes a beacon of the Catholic faith but also sacrifices himself to save Regan.  This makes Father Karras into a literary Christ figure.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

For texts in which good does not overcome evil, I would go with 1984 and Animal Farm by George Orwell and I think I would go with Lord of the Flies, by William Golding.  The first two are clearly ones where good does not triumph.  Golding's book is less clear, but I would argue that, on the island, evil has clearly triumphed over good.

booboosmoosh's profile pic

booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

With regard to pieces of literature where good triumphs over evil, my first choice would be Shakespeare's Macbeth. Macbeth starts out as a good man, but gives himself over to his own dark desire to be King, and becomes a murderer without conscience…and dies at the end; the rightful heir to the throne is restored.

The second text is Goethe's Faust. Faust trades his soul to the Devil (Mephistopheles), but is forgiven by God at the end, so that evil loses.

The third text could be any one of many of Edgar Allan Poe's short stories: "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Tell-tale Heart," or "The Black Cat." In all three stories, evil is defeated.

You could also use Ray Bradbury's short novel, Fahrenheit 451. The repressive society that burns homes with books destroys itself by the end of the story, and those who wish to preserve books and their knowledge are given the chance to rebuild society in a better way.

Regarding texts where evil is victorious, the first that comes to mind is Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado." The speaker, through some perceived insult, decides to murder Fortunato, walling him up in the catacombs beneath the murderer's home. Montresor, the murderer, is never caught.

In William Faulkner's short story, "A Rose for Emily," Emily kills her sweetheart and keeps his body in her bed (a wonderfully, creepy story), and it is only discovered after Emily has died.

In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, there are several forms of evil. One is that of Bob Ewell, a liar and a perverted, violent, prejudiced attempted murderer. He is killed at the end by an unlikely hand of justice. However, another evil in the story is "prejudice." It is not defeated, sending an innocent black man, Tom Robinson, to jail. His loss of freedom is so abhorrent to him, that he is shot seventeen times in the back (literally "overkill") when he tries to escape. The evil of prejudice is not defeated.

Joseph Conrad's short novel, Heart of Darkness, is much like To Kill a Mockingbird in that there are two evils present. One is the character Kurtz who works for a company in Africa exporting ivory. The man has gone insane, and it appears that working in the African interior, human sacrifice has occurred on his "watch." In the end, this mentally skewed man dies. However, the horror visited upon the natives of Africa is not stopped, but continues. Violence is the European's way of life in the Congo, and those native to the country are enslaved, often dying when wounded or killed, treated as inferiors while their natural resources are taken in the name of colonialism.

I hope that these suggestions are of some help.

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