What Makes a Person Evil: Exploring The Evil Actions in Literature

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About this sample


Words: 611 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Updated: 29 March, 2024

Words: 611|Page: 1|4 min read

Updated: 29 March, 2024

Throughout the annals of literature, human beings have grappled with the intricacies of morality, often delving into the depths of evil actions. These actions, ranging from petty theft to heinous crimes like murder, have been a recurring theme in novels, poems, and various forms of media, reflecting both the dark side of human nature and the societal constructs that influence our behavior.

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In works such as William Golding's "Lord of the Flies," Shakespeare's "Othello," and George Orwell's "1984," authors have meticulously dissected the motives behind evil actions, shedding light on the complexities of human psychology. Moreover, beyond the realm of literature, everyday life presents us with myriad instances of moral transgressions, from schoolyard fights to acts of betrayal and selfishness.

One of the central questions that emerge from these narratives is: what makes a person evil? This inquiry delves into the fundamental nature of humanity and the interplay of individual agency and external influences.

Some argue that humans are inherently good but are corrupted by societal norms and the influence of others. Conversely, others contend that individuals are born with neither inherently good nor evil tendencies, but rather develop their moral compass based on their upbringing and life experiences.

Exploring the complexities of human morality requires a nuanced understanding of the concept of evil itself. Evil actions are often defined as behaviors that bring harm to society, with the moral judgment of such actions being shaped by societal norms and values.

One recurring motif in literature is the theme of self-preservation and the pursuit of personal gain at the expense of others. In George Orwell's "1984," for instance, characters like Winston and Julia are driven by their desire for power and self-preservation, ultimately betraying each other to save themselves from the oppressive regime of the Party.

Similarly, Shakespeare's "Othello" offers a compelling portrayal of how jealousy, resentment, and a thirst for revenge can drive individuals to commit evil deeds. The character of Iago, consumed by his desire to destroy Othello, manipulates and deceives those around him, leaving a trail of devastation in his wake.

Moreover, the allure of power and control plays a significant role in motivating evil actions, as exemplified by Jack's descent into savagery in "Lord of the Flies." Driven by jealousy and a craving for dominance, Jack manipulates his peers and creates a culture of fear and violence on the deserted island.

However, it is essential to acknowledge that evil actions are not solely driven by individual motives but can also be perpetuated by larger societal forces. In "1984," the totalitarian regime of the Party exerts complete control over its citizens, suppressing any dissent and eradicating individual freedoms in the pursuit of absolute power.

Similarly, in "Othello," societal prejudices and stereotypes contribute to Othello's downfall, fueling Iago's manipulation and ultimately leading to tragic consequences.

Despite the prevalence of evil in literature and real life, it is crucial to recognize that acts of kindness and altruism also abound in the world. Research suggests that kindness not only brings happiness to others but also fosters a sense of fulfillment and well-being in the giver.

Studies conducted at Yale University have shown that even infants exhibit a preference for kindness over cruelty, indicating a predisposition towards empathy and cooperation from an early age.

In conclusion, the question of what makes a person evil is a complex and multifaceted issue that defies simple answers. While individual motives and desires certainly play a role in driving evil actions, societal influences, power dynamics, and cultural norms also contribute to the perpetuation of moral transgressions.

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By examining the intricacies of human morality through the lens of literature and empirical research, we gain insight into the myriad factors that shape human behavior and the eternal struggle between good and evil.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Oliver Johnson

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What Makes a Person Evil: Exploring the Evil Actions in Literature. (2020, September 01). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 12, 2024, from
“What Makes a Person Evil: Exploring the Evil Actions in Literature.” GradesFixer, 01 Sept. 2020,
What Makes a Person Evil: Exploring the Evil Actions in Literature. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 12 Apr. 2024].
What Makes a Person Evil: Exploring the Evil Actions in Literature [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Sept 01 [cited 2024 Apr 12]. Available from:
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