The Age Old Battle: Good vs. Evil

How does this theme shape The Book of Job and The Odyssey?

Big image

What DID we learn this term?!

Here is an explanation of some of the themes, from my point of view, present across many of the stories that we read this term. It is pretty evident that these stories cover a multitude of topics/ideas and the possibilities for interpretation are endless! As a science major, it is nice to have a break from laws, theorems, and formulas, and be able to have the freedom to explore several possible answers. I hope that my POV helps you to find your own understanding of each story! I encourage you to take a minute to "wander" among the possibilities.

Masie Johnson

Themes by Masie Johnson
Big image
I saw this picture and I just had to post it! In a sense, this is what I picture happening inside both Job and Odysseus. They are constantly struggling between embracing everything that is pure and good (the white cat) or abandoning everything they have believed in up until that point only to give in to the bad, black kitty!

Where exactly in these stories do we see good battling evil and vice versa?

Here are some quotes, along with explanations, that demonstrate just how good and evil shape our characters (Job and Odysseus) and their stories...

At the beginning of The Book of Job the author says, "And the man (Job) was blameless and upright and feared God and shunned evil." This lets the readers know that Job was essentially, for all intents and purposes, "good" at this point in his life. Later on, after his family has been taken from him and his health is rapidly fading, we see those around him attempt to persuade him to give in to that which is not true, and therefore evil. His wife says, " 'Do you still cling to your innocence? Curse God and die.' " Despite this temptation Job replies, " 'Shall you accept good from God, too, and evil we shall not accept?' With all this, Job did not offend with this lips."

Up until this point, Job has remained very steadfast in his beliefs and continues to trust God with every aspect of his life. As the story progresses, however, we see Job exclaiming, " 'Is it good for you to oppress, to spurn Your own palms' labor, and on the council of the wicked to shine?' " In this example, we see Job beginning to give into selfishness as he questions God. He also seems to question His motives about why he is supposedly treating his own work (Job) so poorly. He goes on to question why God would shine on those who are evil. This also raises the question: why does Job automatically think that God is responsible for what has happened to him? Does he lack a fundamental understanding of the biblical Satan that his religion prescribes to?

All in all, is it evident just from the above quotes that Job experiences a continual battle with his soul and mind, as he is torn between holding on to that which is good or embracing that which is evil. In the end, before Jobs fortune is restored twofold, he says, " 'Therefore I do recant, and I repent in dust and ashes.' " In this case, although endings are not always happy, Job shows us that good can and will triumph!

In The Odyssey we see Odysseus, after being told that he can leave the island, say, " 'Still, I want to go back (to Ithaca), my heart aches for the day I return to my home.' " While this is a nice sentiment, shortly after speaking these words, Odysseus cheats on his wife, whom he is supposedly anxious to get home to, with the nymph Calypso. In this case, evil and infidelity win out over good.

We see yet another example of Odysseus's tendency to give in to his human nature as he angrily says, " 'But your mind is crippled. And now you've got my blood pumping with your rude remarks...' " Odysseus is very prone to angry outbursts, fits of rage, speeches of praise for himself, among other things.

Odysseus shows just how pompous he is when, after defeating the Cyclops he taunts him, saying, " 'You savage! But you got yours in the end, didn't you?' " This does not go over well and prompts the Cyclops to throw a huge boulder at their ship, almost sinking them. Again, Odysseus struggles between pride and humility, or put another way, he falters between good and evil.

Odysseus was also very courageous, risking his life many times to save his crew. One of the most notable examples is as follows: " 'And I (Odysseus) went on to Circe's house, brooding darkly on many things...' " Even though Circe had the power to easily subdue him, Odysseus knew that he would not leave any of his men behind and would rather die than be labeled a coward and live.
I See Fire - Ed Sheeran Lyrics (from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Soundtrack)
I think this song accurately represents the good that Odysseus possessed. While he did have many flaws, he was loyal, courageous, and in the end learned what it meant to be humble. Ultimately, good won out over evil. While this was not written for The Odyssey, it captures the essence of the battle Odysseus and his crew faced as they worked towards Ithaca.