Potrayal Of Evil Essay, Research Paper
Portrayal of Evil
In the allegory The Faerie Queen, by Edmund Spenser, evil is depicted primarily as character. In Doctor Faustus, by Christopher Marlowe and Everyman written by an anonymous author, evil is depicted as an action.
In The Faerie Queen, Spenser creates an allegory: The characters of his far-off, fanciful Faerie Land are meant to have a symbolic meaning in the real world. The main theme of Book I is the idea that our native virtue must be augmented or transformed if it is to become true Christian virtue (Alpers 5). Spenser has a high regard for the natural qualities of creatures; he shows the lion and many human characters have an inborn inclination toward good. Yet, he consistently shows their failure when faced with the worst evils. These evils can only be defeated by the Christian good. High on Spenser list of evils in the Catholic Church, and this enmity lends a political overtone of the poem, since the religious conflicts of the time were inextricably tied to politics (Alpers 8). In this epic poem, several characters represent evil. In Book I the plot mostly deals with the attempts of evildoers trying to separate Redcrosse from Una, which is separating holiness from truth. Most of the villains are meant by Spenser to represent the Roman Catholic Church. Thus, Redcrosse must defeat villains who mimic the falsehood of the Roman Church. The first of these is Error. When Redcrosse chokes the beast, her vomit full of bookes and papers (1.1. 177), these papers represent Roman Catholic propaganda that was put out in Spenser s time against Queen Elizabeth and Anglicanism (Alpers 15). Redcrosse may be able to defeat these obvious and disgusting errors, but before he is united with truth, he is still lost and can easily be deceived. Archimago is able through deception and lust, to separate Redcrosse from Una. Once separated Redcrosse is susceptible to falsehood, he soon falls prey to the wiles of Falsehood herself, Duessa. Duessa represents the Roman Catholic Church, because of her false faith (Waters 30). Duessa leads Redcrosse to a wonderful palace the House of Pride. The whole court especially Lucifera, the Queen of the palace, welcomes them. Full of pride, Lucifera shows off for the knight by calling her couch, which is pulled by six beasts upon which ride her six counselors. They are: Idleness, Gluttony, Lechery, Avarice, Envy, and Wrath (Spenser 1.4.155-307). The House of Pride is a collection of ancient and medieval thought about sin and evil. Christian theology holds that Pride is the greatest sin, from which all other vices come (Waters 21).
In Marlowe s Doctor Faustus evil is portrayed as character. Faustus, a scholar, decides that he wants to learn the practice of magic. According to Wilbur Sanders, this is not a play about black magic. And yet, equally clearly, if the play has any subject at all, it is magic (208). In the time when this play was written magic was seen as an evil action. Most of Marlowe s spectators believed not just in witchcraft but also more specifically that Lucifer sought out solitary, masterless people to do his work for him (Sales 142). In the first part of the play Faustus wonders whether or not to repent. Each time he thinks about repenting the evil angel warns him not to (5.21). Because Faustus is having questions about repenting or not this shows that he might be deciding to turn evil. Two scholars learn that Faustus is meeting with Valdes and Cornelius, scholars infamous for their involvement in the black arts, they fear Faustus may also be falling in to that damned art (2.29). These scholars even know that magic is an evil action. Faustus wants to use his magic to have spirits bring him gold and pearls (1.83-4). He will be getting money in a false and evil way. Another evil action that Faustus does is that he sells his soul to the devil. The clown says, well roasted and good sauce to it (4.12) if were to pay so dear. The suggestion that his soul is a very dear price to pay tells us Faust has already sold his. After Faustus has signed his deed we can see that way he has replaced God with the devil as he swears by the devil, Ay, take it and the Devil give thee good ont (5.112). Faustus has rejected God, and now prays to the devil. In the end of the play the last hours come upon Faustus before he has to give his soul to the devil. Faustus starts to repent but it is too late and the devil come to collect what is do. In the end, the magic was not worth spending eternal life in Hell.
Everyman is a morality play about death and the fate of the soul. The evil in Everyman can be seen as action. The play shows the hero’s progression from despair and fear of death to a “Christian resignation that is the prelude to redemption (Klein). Summoned by Death Everyman calls on Fellowship, Goods, and Strength for help, but they desert him. Only Good Deeds and Knowledge remain faithful and lead him to salvation. Everyman is informed by Death of his approaching end. God has become tired of Everyman s ways and now it is time for them to give account for their lives. God wants Everyman to show whether he is good enough for Heaven. So our actions are determined if we go to Heaven or Hell. Everyman s accounts are his false friends that leave him when it is time for him to go to the grave. Everyman accounts are good qualities but cannot come to grave with him. The play makes the point that we can take with us from this world nothing that we have received; only what we have given. Our actions are what really matter, if our actions are evil, we go to Hell, but if they are good, we go to Heaven. Because Good Deeds goes with him to salvation, what we do for others down here own earth is what is important.
These three allegories look at the evil of their times but most importantly they try to show the people of that century that what they are doing is wrong. Each story has their own consequences of what will happen to the people who act evil and do evil acts.