According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, a frame is a rigid structure that surrounds something. A frame does not necessarily mean a picture frame. For example, rules are a form of the frame. They govern the way of thinking and dictate the way in which the people it governs act. Therefore, their behaviour is governed by the rules which bind them. Their lives are framed by the rules which bind them. Right or wrong is judged according to the frame that binds humanity and our actions, depending on the lens that is being used to judge. In this paper, the frame of good with various stories is going to be discussed. The characters in each story (both the good and the bad) are going to be considered and how the society uses this frame to differentiate between the two.
In the story Cinderella, she is portrayed as the perfect girl with no flaws. Her stepmother and two stepsisters are viewed as evil ones. They mistreat Cinderella by making her do all the work. She barely has time to herself and is made to wear tatters. After doing all the work, she would sleep in a cold barren room where her only solace would be the fire. She curled up near the fire to keep warm during the night. Every day when she woke up, she would be covered in cinders. Her stepmother and sisters, therefore, gave her the name “Cinderella” as a way of mocking her.
The greater part of the story sees Cinderella mistreated. The story also portrays her as a good girl. She is gracious, kind, honest and beautiful. She does everything that she is told to do. She is mistreated but the only thing she does is to cry and stay in her room. Not once does she do something mean to hurt her oppressors?
Her stepmother and sisters, however, are ugly, jealous and deceitful. They pour water on her and hurt her in many ways. They also ensure that she does not show up to the ball by tearing the dress that she had made for the ball. After the ball when the prince and his servants go around with the glass slipper that Cinderella left behind in an effort to find her, the stepmother and sisters try to deceive the prince.
In the short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor is another classic illustration of the frame with which the society judges good and evil. Bailey, a husband and a father to two daughters decides to take his family for a summer vacation to Florida. They go through a lot during the journey and end up being killed by Misfit who is a fugitive. Grandmother, who is portrayed as an annoying and disgruntled old woman is the one who leads them to death. In this story, the other characters are not properly developed as compared to Misfit’s who is the villain. Bailey’s wife is portrayed as quiet and soft-spoken.
In this story, Misfit is depicted as a sociopath who goes around killing people. He claims that he was wrongfully put in jail for killing his father who had died of a flu epidemic. After meeting the Baileys he decides to kill them because Grandmother had recognized him. He reacts negatively to feelings of affection. This is clearly seen when Grandmother lays her hand his shoulder and told him “You are one of my own children”. He jumps away and shoots her thrice.
This story, written in 1953, is the most shocking yet it is in the ending that the most fundamental questions about good and bad are being asked. These questions about good, evil, morality and immorality are brought up through the characters.
The Little Red Riding Hood is a story about a girl who wears a red hooded cape. She walks through the woods to visit her grandmother who is ill. There is a wolf in the woods that stalks her with the aim of eating her. He approaches Little Red Riding Hood and in her innocence, she tells him where she is going. The wolf then asks Little Red Riding Hood to pick some flowers for her grandmother. While the girl is busy picking some flowers, the wolf goes to the grandmother’s house and pretends to be Red Riding Hood and swallows her whole then lies in wait for her.
This tale makes a very clear distinction between the good and innocent in society and how the bad lures and corrupts it. The seductive trait of the wolf shows how the good in the society or the people who stand for good in the modern world are often lured by the vices in the society and how they end up being prisoners of such vices. Just like Little Red Riding hood that was out of the “safe zone” which is the village to a place where the wolf had an advantage, the upright in the society are usually lured out of their safe zones to unknown places where they are isolated and are vulnerable.
Lastly, Jekyll versus Hyde is a story whose setting is London. Gabriel John Utterson, who is a prosecutor, through his cousin Enfield learns about a very evil and unscrupulous Edward Hyde who tramples on a girl then pays off her relatives with ten pounds in gold and a cheque signed by Dr Henry Jekyll who is a respectable man in the society. When asked to describe Hyde, Enfield says, “He is not easy to describe.
There is something wrong with his appearance; something displeasing, something downright detestable. I never saw a man I so disliked, and yet I scarce know why. He must be deformed somewhere; he gives a strong feeling of deformity, although I couldn’t specify the point. He’s an extraordinary-looking man, and yet I really can name nothing out of the way. No, sir; I can make no hand of it; I can’t describe him. And it does not want of memory; for I declare I can see him this moment.”
Hyde, who is totally evil, does several despicable things like mercilessly beating a man to death with a heavy cane. The case progresses and finally, Jekyll shows the prosecutor a note from Hyde saying that he is sorry for the trouble he has caused and that he would never bother him again. This note, however, is written in a handwriting which is almost identical to Jekyll’s. He eventually murders himself and leaves behind a letter to Utterson that sheds light on everything that has been happening. The letter says that Dr Jekyll, in an effort to separate his good side from his evil desires, discovered a way to change himself periodically into a creature that lacked a conscience called Hyde.
However, the transformation was incomplete and it resulted in the creation of a second, evil version of him. In the beginning, Dr Jekyll enjoyed this because he felt good to turn into someone who did not have any moral obligation. However, this started more complicated problems because he found himself turning to Hyde unintentionally in his sleep without having to drink the serum. Jekyll decides to stop turning into Hyde.
He states “But I was still cursed with my duality of purpose; and as the first edge of my penitence wore off, the lower side of me, so long indulged, so recently chained down, began to growl for a license. Not that I dreamed of resuscitating Hyde; . . . no, it was in my own person that I was once more tempted to trifle with my conscience. This brief condescension to my evil finally destroyed the balance of my soul. And yet I was not alarmed; the fall seemed natural, like a return to the old days before I had made the discovery
He succeeds for a while. One night, however, the desire was so strong that he could not resist. That night, he goes out and ends up killing someone (Sir Danvers Crew). After this, he feels very strongly against turning into Hyde. He engages himself in philanthropic work to keep him busy. He believed that he had redeemed himself. Jekyll had created a monster but he was too self-righteous to confront it. He became a slave of his own creation. Eventually, the stock of ingredients from which Jekyll had been preparing the potion ran low, and subsequent batches prepared by Jekyll from renewed stocks of the ingredients failed to produce the transformation effected by the original potion.
Jekyll speculated that the one essential ingredient that made the original potion work must have been a trace contaminant that was absent from the ingredients he had subsequently purchased. After sending his butler Poole to one chemist after another, to purchase the salt that was running low, only to find it wouldn’t work, he assumed that subsequent supplies all lacked the essential ingredient that made the potion successful for his experiments. His ability to change back from Hyde into Jekyll had slowly vanished in consequence. Jekyll wrote that even as he composed his letter, he knew that he would soon become Hyde permanently, having used the last of this salt and he wondered if Hyde would face execution for his crimes or choose to kill himself. Jekyll noted that, in either case, the end of his letter marked the end of the life of Dr Jekyll. He ended the letter saying “I bring the life of that unhappy Henry Jekyll to an end.
This intriguing story brings about the other aspect of the difference between good and bad. This aspect is, who in the society determines what is good and what is bad. Dr Jekyll who had the darkest and most horrifying of thoughts created an avenue through which he could act out his darkest deepest desires without having to bear the consequences that come with them.
This story is interesting and different from the other two described previously. This is because; it infers that every human being has a good and bad side. It, therefore, shows the balance that has to exist between evil and good. It is therefore impossible to find a perfect human being who is always good. Similarly finding a man who is cruel and evil in everything they do is impossible. It shows how human beings can change, but the key to changing is in accepting who you are first and avoid trying to hide the vices in us.
This is clearly illustrated in Jekyll’s illustration in his letter to Utterson: “It was on the moral side, and in my own person, that I learned to recognize the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both; and from an early date . . . I had learned to dwell with pleasure, as a beloved daydream, on the thought of the separation of these elements”.
To conclude, all these stories provide a deeper and more intrinsic look at the good and the bad, and the thin line that differentiates both. However one of the things that all these stories have in common is the fact that the good always prevails. All that is evil and bad may seem to have an advantage of number or influence, but the good always prevails. This is a powerful lesson in today’s society. If something is wrong, it will always be wrong no matter how many people choose to do it. The society may make a vice to be permissible after it has become rampant, but it will not make it any less wrong. It will still be a vice. It is therefore always better to choose the right thing to do.
- L. Ashliman. “Little Red Riding Hood and other tales of Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 333“. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
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