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Essay on Timshel in Steinbeck´s East of Eden

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Throughout Steinbeck's novel East of Eden, he captures the idea of Timshel through different characters. Many believe that Timshel is left in open, giving the character the choice. Moreover, Timshel is actually planted in one, they either fight evil with Timshel or give into the dark side.

Throughout the vivid text of Mrs. Trask, Steinbeck expresses her as a Timshel-less human. As he talks of her wild actions, confessing “to crimes she could not possibly have committed” (Steinbeck 15) and drowning “herself in a pond so shallow that she had to get down on her knees” (Steinbeck 15) the reader is able to discover that she is a woman struck with evil. As learned later in the book, Timshel means thou mayest, giving man the decision to
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Tom, like Mrs. Trask, doesn’t contain Timshel in himself because he “broke open a new box of shells and put one of them in the cylinder of his well-oiled Smith and Wesson .38 and he set the loaded chamber one space to the left of the firing pin” (Steinbeck 410). Overall showing the relation between the two, both being Timshel-less. If they had an ounce of it in themselves they would of been able to prevail, as seen in other characters.

While Tom and Mrs. Trask did not hold the gift of Timshel in themselves, Cal does. Although he suffers from a long term, inner battle with good and evil, Lee is there to show his his true potential and the Timshel inside of him. When he confesses to his father, stating that he “did it” and he’s “responsible for the Aron’s death and” his fathers “sickness” (Steinbeck 595) he questions the good in him. While Lee does not come right out and tell him he’s a good man he makes his father tell him, proving to Cal his true potential. After Lee pesters Adam, while he’s on his deathbed, he utters his last words “Timshel”, giving Cal the freedom he deserves. Although the later actions of Cal are unaware, it can be inferred that he prevails, due to his earlier actions when he’s in such a situation. Proving overall that Timshel is inside of him.
The portrayal of Timshel is apparent throughout East of Eden, giving man the choice between good and evil. While Cal shows signs of it in himself, Tom and Mrs. Trask do not,
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