Understanding Evil

The reading that intrigued me during learning was Dante Inferno and Mary Shelley Frankenstein. The literature pieces have portrayed evil as terrifying, an ugly thing to see or desire, and characterized it with a loss of hope. The bible, philosophical teachings, and society have associated evil deeds with a suffering reward at the end and cautioned people against evil practices. Globally people are exposed to what is right and wrong, good and bad, humane and inhumane, and the consequences attached to the path one decides to take. The consequences can be accompanied by emotional, spiritual, and physical satisfaction or can be a nightmare characterized by torture, pain, unhappiness, and emotional distress. Society has set aside rules and regulations to guide people to lead an ethical life, a life of peaceful co-existence. Moreover, religions across the universe set the ‘does’ and ‘don’ts’ borders to guide people towards a life with a higher purpose. Every individual has the power to decide to follow a particular cause and bear the consequences of their actions. However, despite the devastating penalty for evil, there is still hope to make amendments for evil and seek a fulfilling life.

Dante’s journey through hell and the casting of Frankenstein’s creature sheds the possibility of light in evil. Dante yearned to cross the border to paradise but had to go through circles of evil that depict hell’s misery. Even though Dante lead an upright life, he had to go through a nightmare to get the reward. Dante passed through layers of hell where hopeless people were tormented for all the wrongdoings they had committed on earth (McCarthy). During the journey through hell, I would want to imagine Dante deeply felt the horrors’ intensity to the extent that he captured in writing the vacation in hell. Indeed the impact of Dante’s portrayals of hell can be felt by the reader of his works. The experience in hell should inject some hope to people who take up evil lives. Just like Dante went through the layers of hell and darkness and emerged on the other side, an evil life can be reversed and given more meaning. Similarly, Mary Shelley draws Frankenstein’s creature as horrific, ugly, and as a representative of evil. The creature ravages and kills people, depicting the horrors of hell and evil. Mary describes the being as a beast whose mere face would scare off anyone and cause sleepless nights to an individual. The imagination of evil mirrored by Mary’s work successfully magnifies the intensity of the darkness of evil. However, she simultaneously draws the beast as innocent and lonely when abandoned by its maker (Shelley). Mary’s disclosure of the beast’s confusion suggests that there can be some good in evil.   

Evil can also be overcome if people take up the responsibility of guiding and nurturing the wrongdoers towards the right path in life. Evil tendencies can be controlled if relevant forces are directed to them at an early stage. Evil sometimes exists because good people allow the few wicked people to reign and corrupt society. The society’s environment may also play a significant role in favoring the development of evil.  Emotional distress, lack of parental guidance, and poverty can affect human psychology and inspire wicked acts such as suicide and murder. However, if people shift their focus to direct and empower the vulnerable people, evil can be silenced at the roots. The idea about the people’s responsibility in curbing evil leads to the argument that ‘we are the creator of evil.’ As exemplified in Mary Shelley the Frankenstein, the creature was created from scratch by Frankenstein. Frankenstein was obsessed with science and created a monster that would later cause enormous evil. Frankenstein assembled materials from channel houses where corpses were kept and stitched them together to create his being. Frankenstein also gathered parts of animals from slaughterhouses and joined them to the creature (Shelley). Therefore, the monster’s existence was due to a human act; Frankenstein molded the creature, and the environment also supported his heinous works. Although the creature caused unimaginable wickedness, it was initially unleashed due to people’s lack of responsibility. Likewise, we can relate the fundamental role people hold in controlling darkness by analyzing Dante’s journey through hell. Dante couldn’t reach paradise until he got assistance from Virgil’s spirit. Virgil aided Dante in navigating through the horrors of hell to the other side of his destination. If Dante was left alone, he could not triumph in the journey regardless of his determination to get to heaven. The analogy of Virgil’s help to Dante squares with the aid Frankenstein’s creature needed and generally evil desperately requires. 

However, Dante’s work contrasts with Mary’s on people’s ability to exercise free will when choosing a moral or wicked life. According to Dante’s literature, the souls that suffered in hell willingly chose their fate. People who had taken up a righteous life led a magnificent life in heaven. Dante’s personal decision to take up the adventurous journey through hell to join his deceased lover in heaven was also a free-will decision.  Dante had also decided to form allegiances with opposing political parties due to his firm beliefs as a Christian. For the judgment Dante made, he experienced a rough life, including being exiled from the state. Similarly, the people in the different circles of hell had a chance in life to choose between good and bad, and they faced the consequences in hell. Dante also used his experience in hell to caution the political leaders to adjust their cause to escape hell’s punishment (McCarthy). On the other hand, the evil depicted in Mary’s work had a limited choice in wrongdoing. The Frankenstein creation was artificial and, therefore, insufficient in exercising free will. Despite describing the creature as a terrible monster that would scare anyone, Mary also evokes sympathy for its innocence. The monster was brought into a universe, and the same mother neglected and cast it away. The people’s animosity towards the creature darkened its heart and made it kill people. The two literature pieces build on the argument that evil causes suffering in society, but it can be eradicated if people become accountable.

Works Cited

McCarthy, Dennis. “Dante’s Inferno.” Gutenberg, 12 Apr. 2009, www.gutenberg.org/files/1001/1001-h/1001-h.htm.

Shelley, Mary. “The Project Gutenberg E-text of Frankenstein, by Mary Wollstonecraft (Godwin) Shelley.” Gutenberg, 13 Nov. 2020, www.gutenberg.org/files/84/84-h/84-h.htm.

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