The Theme Of Good And Evil In John Steinbeck's East Of Eden

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The concept of good and evil can be defined as ideas of complete opposites. A person that is good can be described as a person with virtuous morals and beliefs. In contrast, a person that is bad can be described as a person with atrocious morals and beliefs. In East of Eden, John Steinbeck claims that all human thoughts and actions can be narrowed down to a single theme of good and evil; he makes the assertion that a person can only be judged as such after that person has died. When a person dies, his or her traits of virtue and vice are absolute. If a person has qualities of vice, they cannot have qualities of virtue and vice versa. All of these judgments are easily made while a person is alive. However, if the person is dead, it is nearly…show more content…
This is evident in John Proctor as he was viewed as an evil person by the members of the court. His ideals were of virtue but his character overall was seen as one of vice. Even though he was deemed evil, John Proctor remained true to his ideals as he “tears the [confession paper] and crumples it” (Miller 151). In this case, John Proctor was presented with the opportunity to publicly prove that he is good with the price of his name. However, he remained loyal to his sense of goodness and tore up the document. John Proctor’s execution followed his decision. Although he was deemed evil, John Proctor cannot be judged as good or evil after his death. Proctor decided to remain loyal to his ideals that his beliefs of honesty were worth more than his life, ultimately proving that his actions cannot be judged as good or evil after his death. Cathy Ames from John Steinbeck’s novel East of Eden is also a prime example of this. Cathy was known to be a person of pure evil. Cathy “made people uneasy… And since this had always been so, Cathy did not find it strange” (Steinbeck 72-73). Even though people saw Cathy with a troubling look, she chose not to care. Although Cathy was predominantly evil, she expressed the ideals that she believed in. She refused to let others cause her to stray away from her ideals and practices. As a result, Cathy cannot be judged. Both Cathy and John Proctor died while remaining loyal to their ideals, thus making it difficult to judge the
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