The Role Of Morality In John Steinbeck's East Of Eden

1268 Words6 Pages
Since humans began walking the Earth and all the way to the present day, morality has never ceased being an issue deeply intertwined into the hearts of humanity. Understanding morality, whether to be good or evil, has been each human’s striving goal in life. Providing a sense of accomplishment, and even more: a sense of true happiness, morals have driven and defined the lives of humans throughout the millennia. To this day, humans struggle with defining and connecting to their own morality. In an age where radical individualism of one’s self and belief runs rampant, morality has become an issue that splits people, households, and whole nations over their views of right and wrong. Understanding morals and ethics, how they apply to others,…show more content…
When confronted with an ethical decision, why do humans continue to opt for the decision with negative consequences and moral failure? Humans are on a lifelong quest for true happiness, because the choices we make are usually far from the perfect, moral standard. American author John Steinbeck attempts to answer these questions and explain humanity’s struggle with choice in his novel East of Eden. East of Eden illustrates humanity’s struggle with good and evil throughout several complex characters and their interactions with each other. In the novel, Steinbeck seems to conclude that no one is simply blessed enough to inherit a solely good or solely evil life - that it is one’s own choice that defines oneself and allows for one to be established as either good or evil. Steinbeck calls this moral choice that each person has in his or her life timshel, a reference to the original Hebrew translation of the Book of Genesis. Steinbeck defines timshel as meaning “thou mayest”, neither a command nor a suggestion, but a choice given from God to man to either do good or evil. It is timshel that transcends all bounds placed upon a person and their thinking that leads them not to their choices, but to their ability to make them. While it would seem logical that knowing that ethically good choices bring about true happiness, that people would always choose the virtuous over the vice, however, because of the existence of timshel and the vast and complex pros and cons of each possible choice that even the most virtuous of humans often fall from morality, continuing a never-ending search for true
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