Post by wheelspinner on Mar 24, 2010 4:32:38 GMT -5
This come up in the Up Next thread and I thought it was worth a bit more chat.
Holmes and Moriarty where mentioned as examples of the classic struggle between good and evil in literature. I'm interested to know what other classics might be. In thinking about it, I actually found it more difficult than I thought. There are many classic struggles, but not all of them are between outright good and outright evil. For example, Ahab vs Moby Dick is a classic example of nemesis, but is between two flawed characters, neither of whom is an archetype of good or evil. Raskalnikov is a classic embodiment of evil, but you'd hardly quote the sly Porfiry as "good".
Examples of out-and-out good vs evil characters I thought of were:
Winston Smith vs Big Brother David Copperfield vs Uriah Heep Jean Valjean vs Javert D'Artagnan vs Richelieu Captain Alatriste vs Malatesta Snowball vs Napoleon Oliver Twist vs Bill Sykes Ben Hur vs Messala John Proctor vs Abigail Ralph vs Jack
Any others you can think of?
Going to Starbucks for coffee is like going to prison for sex. You can get it, but you won't like it. - Adam Hills
T'be honest, I am not familiar with most of those stories.
I am familiar with Les Miserables, though. It's my favorite musical. Though I'm not sure it meets your definition of good vs. evil, versus nemesis. Javert was astoundingly insensitive, but he did what he did in thrall to what he saw as absolute good. A truer good vs. evil conflict however can still be found in that story between Valjean and Thenardier... though Thenardier's influence on Valjean's life was more of a stinging fly than a true threat.
As for stories with good vs. evil, does a direct conflict with a demon count? I don't remember the story titles but they had similar story lines. One was "The Devil and Dan'l Webster" or something like that. And there was also a Stephen King short story where a boy encounters the devil and manages to escape him through cleverness.
Frankenstein comes to mind, though that may not count either. I think "Frankenstein's Monster" is shown to be pure good, but is his creator pure evil, or merely flawed? I think, flawed, so it doesn't count.
Not sure about Oliver Twist since Oliver is a boy and Sykes is a grown man. More contrast than a confrontation of good v. evil. The Count of Monte Cristo v. the three men who had him imprisoned. Dracula v. the men trying to save Mina. The Morlocks v. the Eloi. In The Last of the Mohicans, Uncas v. the Subtle Fox (can't remember that name, either).
Dracula -- I'd have to say yes. Even though in this particular case Dracula was largely motivated by love.
On that score, though it is rarely if ever played this way, one could view the Dracula story as being about the invulnerable agent finally being destroyed by love. Among a number of subthemes I am certain that this was in the intended mix.
Taking this a smidge further, one could view "giving up one's soul" as eschewing the love and compassion that makes us all human. When Dracula decided to reclaim love, he immediately became mortal again (killable). Whether this particular interpretation was in Stoker's mind when he wrote the story is less clear. Still interesting.