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Good Versus Evil in The Kite Runner, The Crucible, and Hamlet Essay


The world is full of good versus evil. People display dark tendencies for numerous reasons, some of which include jealousy, greed and a thirst for power. As is evident in the book The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini, Amir is driven by his jealousy of his best friend Hassan. This jealousy leads Amir to continually humiliate, betray, and hurt Hassan. In The Crucible by Arthur Miller, Abigail, after being rejected by John Proctor, feels a need to acquire power. Therefore, she leads the crusade of accusations of the witch trials to make others think she is an important person and to try and win back the affection of Proctor. In Shakespeares Hamlet, Claudius is driven by greed and the desire to be king and therefore commits a murder, the homicide of the king. Evil is present in all three works, yet each antagonist has a different motivation for their wrongdoings.

Jealousy is a common theme in The Kite Runner, and applies especially to Amir. Amir feels inadequate next to his friend Hassan, as he thinks his father, Baba, loves Hassan more than he loves Amir. Amir reflects on this frequently. Baba once had a deep conversation with Amir, explaining that theft is the only real sin. He said that all other sins were simply a form of theft. To bring down Hassan in Babas eyes, Amir frames Hassan, and claims that he stole from him. Much to Amirs surprise, Baba holds no grudge against Hassan, and completely forgives him. Amir is flabbergasted and heartbroken, and thinks, if Baba can forgive Hassan for stealing, why couldnt he forgive me for not being the son hed wanted (Hosseini, 106). Amir does not understand that, to Baba, Hassan is his son as well. Amir feels that Babas love for Hassan is simply because Hassan is more brave and aggressive and athletic. Amir has an abundance of pent up anger and jealousy because of this and so he takes it out on Hassan. Amir is literate and Hassan is not. Amir lords this over Hassan when he says,

My favourite part of reading to Hassan was when we came across a big word that he didnt know.

What does that word mean?

Which one?


It means smart, intelligent

(29). Amir uses literacy as a means to feel superior to Hassan, something he has desired his whole life, along with the love of Baba. Jealousy and the desire of approval are often motivation for unlawful deeds.

A thirst for power and approval is also evident in the character of Abigail, in The Crucible. Abigail is a young nave girl who has an affair with an older man, John Proctor. Proctor is married and therefore ends his relationship with Abigail, leaving her feeling emotional and powerless. Trouble begins when a bunch of girls are found dancing in the woods, which is a sin in the eyes of the puritans. To cover up their wrongdoing, Abigail invents a lie that Tituba was conjuring magic and using witchcraft. This lie gives Abigail an air of authority since she knows what happened that night. Abigail likes this sense of power, and soon the situation is out of control when the whole village is accused of witchcraft. Abigail begins to lead the insanity of the witch trials, as she is the ring leader of the accusations. This tirade was all caused because of Abigails desire for worthiness and power. Her domineering nature is displayed when another girl threatens to expose her lies and she says, I will come to you in the black of some terrible night, and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you (Act 1, Sc. 2, p 17). This quote displays her desperation and desire for power, the power she lost when John Proctor rejected her. She also believes that if, by putting herself in a position of power, (accusing others of being witches) her chances of being with Proctor will be increased. Proctors wife sees this when she says, about loving a woman, Spoke or silent, a promise is surely made. And she may dote on it now- I am sure she does- and thinks to kill me, then take my place (61). Abigails histrionics are caused by her loss of power, which leads to her thirst for authority and her views of greed and hunger.

Greed is also physically displayed through the character of Claudius in William Shakespeares Hamlet. Claudius was the brother to the King, and first in line to the throne, yet this was not enough for him. Claudius desires all of the acclaim, fortune, fame and responsibility that come with being King. Since his greed overtakes him, he kills his brother in order to achieve his dreams. Claudius speaks of his crime when he says, Oh, my offence is rank. It smells to heaven/ It hath the primal eldest curse upont/ A brothers murder. Pray can I not/What if this cursed hand/ Were thicker than itself with brothers blood?/ Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens /To wash it white as snow? (3.3, 37-48). This passage demonstrates that Claudius does not feel bad that his brother is dead; he only wishes he did not feel the guilt that now haunts him. He wishes to enjoy the spoils of his conquest in peace. After the event, Claudius tries to put on a face for the world, and convince them that he grieves for his brother. Even in his best of speeches, however, Claudius gives away a bit of his apathetic nature.

Though yet of Hamlet our dear brothers death

The memory be green, and that it us befitted

To bear our hearts in grief and our whole kingdom

To be contracted in one brow of woe,

Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature

That we with wisest sorrow think on him

Together with remembrance of ourselves.

(1.2, 1-7). In this speech, Claudius reveals that yes, he wishes to grieve, yet always, in his mind, he views himself as number one and always concerns himself with what is in his interest. For example, killing the king not only was murder, (stealing the life of another) but it also disrupted the kingdom and forced upon them a change they may have not desired. The greed of Claudius clouded his judgment, allowing him to commit one of the most serious sins known to man. It was greed that killed the King.

The world is full of good versus evil. It is a common theme in literature and art throughout the ages. Evil and darkness are present in all three works, The Kite Runner, The Crucible, and Hamlet. The motivations behind these acts of evil, however, are different in each novel. In The Kite Runner, jealousy is a motivation. In The Crucible, a thirst for power drives the antagonist. Finally, in Hamlet, greed possesses Claudius and forces him into betrayal. Emotions are powerful. Emotions make up life. Greed, jealousy and lust for power, are all emotions that drive the insane. No matter what the motivation, evil is plain and simple and will always result in devastation.

Works Cited

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