CHAN: The Problem of Evil in Literature
Good and evil are the twin opposites of our ethical compass, and the struggle between good and evil is a conceit that powers the narratives of a huge variety of literature. Stories, from religious texts to fantasy novels, depict good protagonists fighting against evil antagonists for the salvation or protection of the world. The problem of the portrayal of evil in such narratives, though, is that although it evil meant to be an inscrutable monolith, it is nonetheless fascinating. Why, the reader asks, does evil do what evil does? Are the demons that possess people to do evil things manifestations of a cosmic being that lurks in the depths of some hellish dimension, or are they demons of the mind, conjured out of a phantasm of imagined or real injustices? The stock fantasy narrative, such as those employed by Tolkien, has no answer.