Good and evil will always be a battle that never stops fighting. The good will always triumph evil in almost all stories. Many authors use good triumphs evil as a theme to connect to a reader. The theme of good triumphs evil in different literary works demonstrates a practical concept that can relate to many people. The constant battle of good and evil are seen in the daily lives of everyone. When experiencing the battle, the easy choice is to choose evil and once that is chosen it has become the only option that will be seen. This demonstrates a universal theme because using an idea that is relatable to the readers’ life helps form a connection with the author and the reader. Behind each story, the author has a reason as to why they chose the theme. The universal theme of good triumphs evil is shown in Macbeth, Beowulf, and Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone.
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The theme can be demonstrated differently throughout literature. In Macbeth, Macbeth faced many choices of evil. He received three prophecies and one of those predicted he would become king of Scotland (Shakespeare Act I, Scene 3). He wasn’t sure how he could become king if the throne already had a king. Macbeth took the prophecies into his hands, he decided to kill King Duncan (Shakespeare Act II, Scene 2). Shakespeare uses this instance to set the theme of evil in the play. Throughout the play, Macbeth committed a lot of evil acts in order to help himself from being caught as Duncan’s murder. Elaine Pilkington says it best, “murder becomes his primary tool of leadership” (1). Macbeth was responsible for many deaths because he was caught up in a lie. The lie he got caught up in made him believe that continuing to kill the people causing problems would ultimately make the problems go away. Shakespeare used Macbeth in the story to show evil.
After Shakespeare shows the evil side of Macbeth, he turns that around to show the triumph of good. Macbeth caused many people to experience pain and with him being king he has presented poor leadership. In Macbeth, the triumph of good is shown through the defeat of Macbeth. He received three more apparitions from the witches. These all made Macbeth feel hopeful and safe (Shakespeare Act IV, Scene 1). Little did he know these apparitions were the opposite of safe. He began to feel too confident with the witch’s apparition and went to the battle field to try and stop the people fighting against him. Malcom and Macduff are who he fights against and in the end, he is defeated. Malcom displays the triumph of good because he is now the king. Scotland rejoices as evil has been triumphed by good.
Behind every piece of literature there is a reason why the author chose to express what they did. Shakespeare piece replicates an actual person. Many years before the time of Shakespeare, King Macbeth was in reign. The play is not an exact representation of the real Macbeth, but Shakespeare was inspired by this (Jaramillo 1). Being inspired by Macbeth, Shakespeare took the inspiration he had and added his own twist to the story. Shakespeare grew up with a relatively normal lifestyle (Seccombe 1). Growing up in a normal lifestyle, he most likely saw and experienced evil and saw that good can triumph over evil. His early life inspired him to show this theme throughout Macbeth.
Beowulf, an epic poem, demonstrates the theme of good triumphs evil too. The presence of evil is seen in three characters: Grendel, his mother, and a dragon. In the epic, Grendel is seen as a biblical allusion to Cain in Genesis. In the bible, Cain killed his brother, Abel, from a place of jealousy and feeling lesser than him (New International Version, Gen. 4:1-16). Describing Grendel, based on being a descendant of Cain, they would say he was a strong monster who could destroy Heorot, but he had no bravery. He would attack the village at night knowing this was the best time for him to have a chance in winning an attack (Beowulf, lines 115-116). The evil displayed in the epic is seen through the many attacks Grendel, his mother, and the dragon attempts to do in the village.
Beowulf is seen as the one who helps good triumph the evil in the epic. He demonstrates a tremendous amount of bravery and courage throughout his life. In the end, he is the one who kills Grendel, his mother, and the dragon. Another character who helped conquer evil was Wiglaf. Beowulf fought the dragon without any of his men until his sword is damaged. All of his men are fearful to get into the fight, but one individual, Wiglaf, stepped up to the battlefield. (Beowulf, lines 2625-2628). The bravery and courage shown by Beowulf and Wiglaf are the reasons good can triumph good in this story. They defeated the evil in the story leaving room for only good to be present.
This epic poem is said to be “the oldest story of which there is any trace left in our literature” (Dickens 459). No one knows who the exact poet is, therefore we have to infer why the epic was written. The epic includes a biblical allusion, but the time of the epic was set in the pagan world. Realizing the time period some people believe that as people passed the story down certain parts were added or taken away to change the story.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is another example of a book that displays the theme good triumphs evil. The evil present in Harry Potter is Voldemort, he was a “wizard who went… bad. As bad as you could go. Worse. Worse than worse” (Rowling 99). His character resembles Satan in the Bible. Satan does anything in order to bring chaos and evil to the world, and Voldemort did the same thing. He would undergo any form in order to corrupt Hogwarts. Speaking the name of Voldemort brought fear to everyone, Dumbledore and Harry were the only two who were brave enough to speak his name. Voldemort has grown up being evil and it is part of his nature. Voldemort presents his evilness in many ways, for example, he attempted killing Harry Potter when he was young. He was unsuccessful because Harry had something special about him.
Harry Potter is who conquers Voldemort, but even before that Harry Potter’s mom helps conquer him. His mother died in order to save Harry, the love she has for him was so powerful (Rowling 216). Conquering the evil in a story can happen before you realize it was conquered, just like it was in Harry Potter. As the story continues, Harry uses his courage and friends to ultimately end the evil traits Voldemort displays. All of Harry’s training and relationships he has built in Hogwarts is being used together to defeat the evil in the novel.
J.K. Rowling had a desire to express to the world through her novels that evil does exist in the world, but there is a good that can conquer the evil (Rowling 1). She used her novels as a way to spread a message and a way in which she could connect to the reader. Rowling created the idea of Harry Potter on a train heading to London King’s Cross. She had a message she wanted to spread, and she was able to create an idea to express the message through.
The theme of good triumphs evil is prevalent in the day to day lives of people and in many literary works. An author demonstrating the theme in a novel, play, or poem can help make a connection with the reader by showing them there are so many instances evil may exist, but in the end the good will always conquer evil. The universal theme of good triumphs evil is shown in Macbeth, Beowulf, and Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone.
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