What Will Win Good Versus Evil?

June 14, 2012
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“In this world goodness is destined to be defeated” by Walker Percy. The interpretation of Walker Percy’s quotation is that in the fight between good vs. evil, the actions of those who are immoral, i.e. greed, abuse, murder, will outnumber the powers of justice and kindness. However, several literary works can stand today contradicting Percy’s citation, particularly Number the Stars by Lois Lowry and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling. In an historical fiction piece whose contents closely mirror events in a non-fictional Holocaust, the element of theme is often used, as subjects of fear, anti-Semitism, and bravery display themselves in the life of one young heroine versus the evil of Nazism. Within J.K. Rowling’s book, the component of characterization is utilized using various personas, the hero, the villain, etc…, to illustrate the literal battle between good versus evil.

In Lois Lowry’s Newbery award-winning story Number the Stars, 10-year old Annemarie Johansen lives in World War 2 Denmark, displaying astonishing signs of courage in the face of fear and war. The definition of evil is something that is malicious, harmful, and morally wrong that causes pain and fear, the war and its Holocaust existing as prime examples. The topic of anti-Semitism is enforced with the brutish German soldiers that stand on every street and the injustices done against Jews. Instances of this is seen where a common button shop is closed, a fact that even the young protagonist cannot comprehend, until she realizes it’s simply because the owners are Jewish. The theme of anti-Semitism and fear are further examined as Nazis soon seek to capture Danish Jewish families, including the family of Annemarie’s best friend, Ellen Rosen. However, bravery is shown in the rising actions when Nazis soldiers storm Annemarie’s home looking for information about the Rosen family and almost discover Ellen. Fortunately, the Johansens’ pretend that Ellen is part of their family, and show the true depth of their compassion when Mr. Johansen remarks that he has “three daughters again.” Moreover, another example of fear is shown as Annemarie undergoes a “Red Riding Hood” flight through the dark woods, going into the unknown, in danger of being discovered by the Nazis or the inability to deliver her package. Therefore, this anecdote simply enforces the theme of bravery, as Annemarie only a young vessel holds this amount of audacity to do what’s right, despite the peril. The previous surrealism of war becomes realism as Annemarie undergoes a chrysalis from ignorant child to valiant adult, becoming a realistic heroine as she undergoes a dangerous journey through the woods to deliver a package that determines that freedom for her friend and her family.

Within the final installment of J.K. Rowling’s prominent series, Harry Potter and supporting characters formulate the sides of the epic war that will determine the victor in good versus evil. Obviously, Harry Potter is the protagonist, a major allegory of the literal force of goodness. Key traits in Harry’s personality link him to the form of a typical literary hero, qualities like humility, internal strength, kindness, talent, and courage. Also, Harry’s noble nature is reflected through his perilous quest to collect all the horcuxes and willingness to sacrifice himself to Voldemort to prevent more death. Voldemort, the antagonist, exists as Harry’s polar opposite as defined by his characterization, experiencing sadistic pleasure from the pain of others, a sociopathic mentality, and uncontrolled ambition. Therefore, the essential differences between Harry Potter and Voldemort denote for the discrepancy between good and evil; Harry’s compassion and offer of redemption to Voldemort, which allows Harry to compass a type of humanism and strength that Voldemort will never have. Furthermore, differences between the literary foils illustrate the opposing powers of the characters and how the conviction of Harry’s personality allows him to defeat the major evil, Voldemort.

Finally, the pessimism of Mr. Percy’s quote is gainsaid through the characterization and themes seen in the works of Lois Lowry and J.K. Rowling. Though often in war, the extent of human cruelty is revealed, it is also exposes the tremendous kindness and courage that one can lend to those in need and danger. Such an adolescent perspective allows the audience to see this type of environment from a naïve, yet obvious POV, pointing out the simplistic differences between right and wrong and mature valiancy in the face of horror. The contradiction in characters in J.K. Rowling’s Deathly Hallows allows the audience to recognize the distinct traits that make up the individuals of good and evil, and permits them to see the conquering strength in the former.





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sashie boo said...
Sept. 2, 2015 at 2:08 pm
Your essay is very educational and i hope you mind if i summurize your idea to put in my book.
 
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