Literature: how it acts as a window and a mirror
Throughout the entire year during English, we have read different texts such as the Vietnam War literature, “Catcher In the Rye”, “Macbeth”, “Lord of the Flies”, and more, and explored the inner meanings and hidden messages in these books. More recently, we have been focusing on the topic of how literature acts a both a “window” to an alternate world, allowing us to understand the present world better, and a “mirror” of self-reflection, allowing us to understand ourselves better. All of these texts were quite similar in many aspects, as they all focused on the inner cruelty and evilness that lies inside of humans, particularly spotlighting murder.
The texts all included a breakdown of society and lawlessness, and begged the essential question of “are humans naturally good or naturally evil?” This is an essential life question that all of the books this year do their best to attempt to answer. In addition, the TV series “Lost”, which is about a plane that crashed on an island and how people on the island interact with each other, tries to answer this question as well. Through “windows” and “mirrors”, the texts “Macbeth” and “Lord of the Flies”, as well as the TV series “Lost”, all demonstrate that humans are naturally evil, and they made me wonder whether that inner evil described in the texts and TV show lies inside of myself. In the beginning of the school year, we read the text “Macbeth”, which is about the unfortunate chain of events that led Macbeth to murder everyone in an ego fest, in order to become king. At the beginning of the text, Macbeth was a very kind, timid character, who no one would expect to murder anyone in his path to become king.
However, over time, Lady Macbeth increasingly influenced and encouraged Macbeth to go through with the plan to kill King Duncan, and continue on the path of murder to become the King of Scotland. Over the course of the text, Lady Macbeth severely changed Macbeth, as she altered his thoughts and morale, and converted him into an unscrupulous, narcissistic murderer. Lady Macbeth’s influence on severely changed Macbeth as a person, and exposed his inner evil and cruelty. After reading the text “Macbeth”, my view of the world has utterly changed, as the text has informed me, yet also frightened me greatly. In the book, the text acted as a “window” showing an alternate world, where people go around murdering each other in order to gain power.
Although that seems like a very distant reality, the text does show an inner meaning that the inner evil in people isn’t hidden very deep, it is right below the surface. As shown in the book, Lady Macbeth just had to influence Macbeth a tiny bit in order to expose the inner evil that led Macbeth to go murder anyone in his way of becoming king. Since the evil isn’t very far below the surface, it really showed me that the inner evil can be exposed with a little motivation. In the book, the text also acted as a “mirror” of self-reflection, making me wonder how ambitious I would be and how much I would do to reach a goal. In the world today, specifically in school, there is often a motivation to cheat, as there is such pressure to do well, and that is virtually the easiest way to cut corners. However, as a student myself, I would never consider doing this as there are severe repercussions, and it is simply, morally wrong.
On the other hand, Macbeth had little repercussions for his actions and no morale, which led him to commit this atrocity. Towards the end of the year, we read the text “Lord of the Flies”, which is about the interaction of a couple of young boys who were placed on an island together with no adults. At the beginning of the text, the children were surprisingly civilized, as where they had previously lived taught them good manners. However, over time, the children started to separate into 2 tribes, which led to the disbanding of society, as the children started to fight and act like savages. Over the course of the text, the children became less and less civilized due to the fact that there were no adults or consequences for any actions. The text really explored the idea of whether humans were born evil or it was society that turned good people into evil ones, as it used children who weren’t yet exposed to society.
However, the result was quite disappointing, suggesting that humans are born evil, due to the fact that these young children who hadn’t yet been exposed to evil, were still cruel people that had little integrity and morale. In the book, the text acted as a “window”, as it explored a hypothetical scenario of children being placed on an island and seeing what their actions and interactions would be. Although the experiment was a little farfetched and unrealistic, it accurately shows that chaos breaks out when there is no society, and that humans are naturally born evil. As shown in the book, just weeks away from society led to total chaos and lawlessness on the island among the children. In addition, the book showed that humans are naturally born evil, as these young children who hadn’t been exposed to evil were still cruel people.
In the book, the text also acted as a “mirror” of self-reflection as it made me wonder if I would do the same thing in this situation. Often in the real world, when people aren’t being watched, people commit heinous crimes that they would never do if someone was watching. Whenever crimes are caught on camera, the criminal usually looks around to make sure no one is there. This is due to the fact that the only thing that keeps humans intact are laws, as they regulate human behavior. However, in “Lord of The Flies”, there are no laws and punishments to keep people behaved, which explains the breakout of chaos and breakdown of civilization. Quite recently, I started watching the TV series “Lost”, which is about a plane full of people that crashed onto a deserted island.
In the beginning of the series, order and civilization were highly maintained and they people acted quite civilized, and set up a mini government. However, that all changed when the people on the plane interacted with other people on the island that they didn’t existed there. After their interaction, the island broke down into a lawless society, where people would do as they wanted, such as murder, as there was very little to no consequences for their actions. Over the course of the series, this worsened, as members of opposing tribes would openly murder each other with little regard for morale or justice. The TV series answered the essential life question of “do humans act good out of fear for punishment, or do humans act good because they are naturally good?” The show answered this question quite resoundingly, as it clearly showed that humans act good out of fear for punishment, as in their lawless society, people had little regard for acting good. In the TV series, the content acted as a “window” into an alternate lawless society, where the civilization had no laws, punishments, or jail.
Although the TV series is quite unrealistic and exaggerated, it accurately shows that humans just act good out of fear for punishment, not that humans are actually good. In the TV series, this was shown by people doing however they pleased since there were no laws. Now that I started looking into this alternate world, it made my view change on the current situation in Syria right now. In Syria, there have been no laws for a couple of years now, as the government is killing its own citizens, not enforcing the laws. This has led to mass murder and breakdown of civilization in the country. The TV series also acted as a “mirror” of self-reflection as it has made me wonder whether I would act similarly in this situation.
I really don’t believe that if there were no laws and civilization, I would go around killing people, but I have never been placed in a situation like this. Many of the people on this island who had committed such atrocities seemed like normal and sane people before they started murdering people. Overall, this text made me reconsider if humans were naturally good, or punishments just keep them intact. Through “windows” and “mirrors”, the texts “Macbeth” and “Lord of the Flies”, as well as the TV series “Lost”, all demonstrate that humans are naturally evil, and they made me wonder whether that inner evil described in the texts and TV show lies inside of myself. Overall, all 3 medias show insight on how humans are naturally evil, and how society, civilization, laws, and punishments keep humans intact.