Definitions of Evil; Paradise Lost, “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, Lord of the Flies, and Beowulf

Definitions of Evil; Paradise Lost, “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, Lord of the Flies, and Beowulf

Definitions of Evil; Paradise Lost, “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, Lord of the Flies, and Beowulf The topic of evil is discussed in multiple ways within the stories of Beowulf, Paradise Lost, Lord of the Flies, and “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”. These writers’ opinions on evil vary. Evil is portrayed in many different ways. Is evil a choice that is made by an individual? Or is it merely a concept that humans have no control over? Although these writers may disagree on who will be defeated in the battle between good and evil and whether evil lives within every man, they agree on the concept that evil always brings negative consequences.

Samuel Coleridge, the writer of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, John Milton, the writer of Paradise Lost, and the author of Beowulf both agree that evil will ultimately be defeated by goodness. In Beowulf, evil is defeated with the slaughtering of Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the Dragon. His people realize the great deed that Beowulf has done for them and were thankful that their town was freed of evil: “They extolled his heroic nature and exploits and gave thanks for his greatness. John Milton and Samuel Coleridge support the idea that good always defeated evil and they express this in “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and Paradise Lost. In “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, after killing an albatross, the mariner’s ship is repeatedly faced with difficult circumstances. After unwillingly winning the battle between life and death, he comes to understand that evil exists so people can know the forgiveness of God, although consequences will be present. “I shot the Albatross…. but no sweet bird did follow, not any day for food or play came to the Mariner’s hello! (779). In Paradise Lost, good is ultimately defeated in that God defeats Satan who theoretically was the first to introduce sin into the world. Regardless of all of the misfortunes that the characters faced, the consequences of evil choices, good will overcome all evil in the end. John Milton, the man behind the story Paradise Lost, along with William Golding, the author of Lord of the Flies, both tend to believe that evil is within every person. Golding uses average boys to represent how evil comes out once their true colors are shown.

In Lord of the Flies, Ralph, along with Piggy and the other boys, go from having morals, knowing right from wrong, and thinking logically; to killing two harmless boys for no reason. “The rock bounded twice and was lost in the forest. Piggy fell forty feet and landed on his back across the square red rock in the sea. ” (p. 181) Piggy ends up murdered because the boys were overcome with want to be powerful and evilness. Jack, however, can be used as a symbol to describe the evil that Golding believes is within everybody.

In Paradise Lost, Satan, an envious, ambitious, and vengeful character, is tempting Adam and Eve to eat out of the forbidden garden after God told them specifically not to. Adam and Eve fall into Satan’s trap and face consequences from God. Ultimately, Milton uses the idea that if it weren’t for evil, humans would never understand how merciful, forgiving, and loving Jesus is. He uses Satan’s evil to represent the evil that is within everyone, and, like Golding, uses his story to show that evil exists because of people and their emotions. Other than these differences, all four of these authors agree on the fact that evil has bad consequences.

For example, in “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, the mariner is forced to deal with the loss of his crew, thirsting, not being able to pray, and was forced to tell his story to people, all because of his evil act of killing the albatross. In Beowulf, evil is defeated, which was a goal for Beowulf, but he paid the ultimate price in losing his life because of his battle with the Dragon. In Paradise Lost, Adam and Eve are forced to give up a sinless and perfect life in return for disobeying God and his orders to stay out of the forbidden garden.

God enforced difficult consequences on both Adam and Eve, including childbirth on the woman, and working hard for money for the man in return for their disobedience. Above these, Adam and Eve lose their advantage of having an everlasting life. Last but not least, in Lord of the Flies, Piggy and Simon pay the ultimate price for the evil of the other boys on the island. Piggy is killed because of a rock-throwing obsession, and Simon is murdered by the boys’ disgusting act of savagery. There is no doubt that evil has consequences.

Although they may vary, these four authors all agree that they are present. Although these authors disagree on who will be defeated in the battle between good and evil and that evil lives within every man, they all agree that evil always brings negative consequences. Evil is something that will arguably always be present in the world. Evil is tempting, strong, and slaughtering. The question, however, is how will each individual overcome evil, and at what price will he or she have to pay for it in the end.