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Compare and Contrast: Good vs Evil in the play Hamlet and the short story Spunk - Essay Example

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Compare and Contrast: Good vs Evil in the play Hamlet and the short story Spunk Zora Neale Hurston was a 20th century African-American writer of considerable repute. While a great number of writers of her ilk ultimately turned to political concerns, it’s been noted that, “Hurston’s fiction almost predominantly concerned itself with the interactions and portraits of daily life in her Florida town of Eatonville” (Boyd, pg…
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Compare and Contrast: Good vs Evil in the play Hamlet and the short story Spunk
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Download file to see previous pages In addition to both writers being expert craftsmen into the nature of human character and existence, they also demonstrate a similar approach to the human condition. One of the prevalent themes in these regards can be seen in their approach to good and evil. Through an examination of these writers work, specifically Zora Neale Hurston’s Spunk and William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, this essay compares and contrasts the articulations of good and evil. The first element of evil in Zora Neale Hurston’s Spunk occurs in terms of the relationship between Spunk Banks and Lena. This relationship can be viewed as evil in many regards. Spunk Banks is described as a large and impending figure “A Giant of a brown-skinned man”, as well as a bully. In the text Spunk Banks has taken Lena, Joe Kanty’s wife. This is presented as a sort of immoral act, as it’s indicated that this occurred because of Spunk’s size in comparison to Joe. This is a complex understanding of evil as many individuals in the town regard Spunk as a sort of hero because of his fearlessness; however, it’s still clear from reading the text that the act he has committed is in many regards evil. In many regards, one can argue that the dichotomy between good and evil is in many regards embodied in these two characters. The question becomes which character embodies good and which character embodies evil. As this opening portion of the story advances, it’s clear that Joe s presented as a slightly complex character. While Hurston presents Joe as wronged by Spunk, she also indicates that he plans on enacting revenge by using a razor and attacking Spunk Banks. The text indicates, “He reached deep down into his trouser pocket and drew out a hollow ground razor, large and shiny, and passed his moistened thumb back and forth over the edge” (Hurston). In these regards, the nature of evil in part shifts towards Joe. It’s been argued that, “rather than indicating there is one universal element of evil, Hurston is playing with the concept, and shifting its emphasis between different individuals” (Hemenway, pg. 119). In this sense Hurston seems to be indicating that there isn’t a simple definition of good and evil in the sense that many people would like to believe. As the text advances this nebulous articulation of good and evil is advanced. In the next portion of the text, Zora Neale Hurston relays the incident wherein Joe confronts Spunk Banks and murders him. The question becomes whether Spunk’s murder of Joe was done in self-defense. While it’s well established at this point that Hurston’s story doesn’t easily commit to a basic dichotomy of good and evil, this portion of the story further extends the question of good and evil. In this section, Spunk Banks relays his story of being attacked and having to kill Joe Kanty in self-defense. Ultimately, the governing society agrees with Spunk that his murder of Joe was committed in self-defense. This raises the question of good and evil in terms of not only the two men, but also in terms of the greater social order. The text presents Spunk Banks as a sort of town hero; in light of this one begins to question whether he is able to use this esteem to avoid punishment for his actions. Here, Hurston is presenting a concept of good and evil that considers the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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