Evil in Byron's Dramas: Manfred, Cain, Heaven and Earth, The Deformed Transformed.

2730 Words 11 Pages
The Conception of Evil in Byron's Dramas: Manfred, Cain, Heaven and Earth, The Deformed Transformed.

The depictions of and ideas about evil in Byron's dramas Cain, The Deformed Transformed, Heaven and Earth and Manfred are fairly common between the four texts. On the basic level, evil is seen as a force opposite to good, which all humans have the potential for. Only some humans express this potential, and their downfall into evil is often brought about by temptation, usually from a divine being. God punishes evil. This interpretation of evil is problematic, however. Because God administers punishment, evil becomes anything that questions the omnipotence of God. The hint that God himself may have an evil side is a truth
…show more content…
The Byronic Hero as exemplified in these dramas by Cain, Arnold, Manfred and Japhet, questions the truth of this assertion, and the questioning itself is a heresy, a sin.

On Cain's return from his experience with Lucifer, he describes to Adah the conclusions he has come to about God and the nature of evil. Simply from these words, not from any sinful deed Cain does, Adah is able to conclude that "Thy guide hath done thee evil" (Cain Act III). His "sin" here is merely questioning why he should suffer for his parent's crimes. Japhet's only sin is to question why the Sons of Cain cannot be saved, yet he is admonished by Noah for this sin - "with thy tongue/ Do God no wrong!/ Live as he wills it - die, when he ordains" (Heaven and Earth Act I Scene III). Noah sees God as so far above and controlling of humanity that for him to change his will "for a mere mortal sorrow" would be "a sin".

Evil has also to do with over-ambition and pride. Cain is rebuked by Lucifer for wanting to know too much - "Dust! Limit thy ambition!" Noah entreats Japhet not to question the Divine will. Manfred's punishment continues because of his pride, as he refuses to accept the help of the Witch of the Alps.

Despite this hubristic idea of evil as humans overreaching their natural boundaries, there is no punishment

More about Evil in Byron's Dramas: Manfred, Cain, Heaven and Earth, The Deformed Transformed.

Open Document