Every story ever told and every life ever lived has included elements of good and evil. In a stereotypical story, the main character endures a struggle between the wicked and the honorable”whether it be internal or external. Through hardships, self-discovery, grit, and strength, the protagonist generally manages to pull off a miracle and rid their respective world of the evil that perverted it.
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As real people are living out the stories of their life, what is it that separates the good from the bad? The wicked from the righteous? Ultimately, one thing becomes the deciding factor in the conflict between the dark and the light, and that is the faith of the character. Whatever it is that an individual has faith in” whether it is faith in humanity, themselves, people, the world, a single person, or a supreme being of some kind, the choice to have faith or not to have faith determines a person’s character. When faith is chosen, it becomes the sledgehammer to smash the face of the evil that keeps popping up back into the hole it came from. True faith is the key to taking the evil out of a person and out of the world.
One of the most immediate, innate connections one makes upon hearing the word faith is that with God. God is believed by an incredibly large group of people to be the only one who can change a person’s heart and help them become victors over the adversary. God’s role in the internal battle between good and evil is exceptionally shown in a novel written by Yann Martel. In his internationally celebrated book Life of Pi, the main character, Pi, embarks on a life-altering journey that changes his perspective forever. He interacts with different characters and endures treacherous experiences and loneliness that, in any interpretation of the story, become a part of him. Pi is an avidly adamant believer of God, and as he and his actions reiterate constantly throughout the book, Pi knows and loves him deeply and personally. Pi’s life on a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean was not, in any stretch of reality, easy. He described one of his experiences this way, I was giving up. I would have given up”if a voice hadn’t made itself heard in my heart. The voice said, “I will not die. I refuse it. I will make it through this nightmare. I will beat the odds, as great as they are. I have survived so far, miraculously. Now I will turn miracle into routine. The amazing will be seen every day. I will put in all the work necessary. Yes, so long as God is with me, I will not die. Amen” (Patel 148). It is examples like this of Pi’s faith in and love for God that spread and touched all those who heard his story. One man, Mr. Francis Adirubasamy, introduced Pi’s experience to the also fictitious author of Pi’s story by saying, I have a story that will make you believe in God (Patel X). True, unshaken faith is infectious and spreads like the desire for water on a mildly hot day; one doesn’t realize they need it until they recognize they don’t have it or they see someone else with it. As shown by Mr. Adirubasamy, Pi’s incredible faith had more of an effect on many than the reality-defying experiences he had. The fact that, above all else, the power of faith was Mr. Adirubasamy’s main takeaway from Pi’s story is quite the supporting factor in the argument that Pi’s faith in God was his key to survival” as well as the triumph over the evil around and inside of him.
Although the example of faith shown by Pi is monumentally powerful, the deathly exhibit of what forged faith can do to a person (or a town) is equally as present in the play The Crucible. Written in 1953 by Arthur Miller, this chilling tale follows the havoc-reaped town of Salem as their witch trials commenced in the 1690s. Many people were being accused of witchcraft (the punishment for which is hanging) and terror reigned over the hearts of the residents. Accusations were being thrown left and right as haphazardly as one might throw their clothes out of a drawer in a frantic search for the desired item; however, most of the accusations had very little merit, cause, or evidence to support them. Elizabeth Proctor, a character in the story who was living in Salem at the time, said this, I cannot think the Devil may own a woman’s soul, Mr. Hale, when she keeps an upright way, as I have. I am a good woman, I know it; and if you believe I may do only good work in the world, and yet be secretly bound to Satan, then I must tell you, sir, I do not believe it (Miller 70). Elizabeth believes that one cannot make viable accusation of evil against a woman who has done nothing but good works”a show of her personal faith in God.
While this prerogative makes logical sense, the town of Salem let fear and false faith control their actions; specifically, they let Abigail Williams, a young girl perceived by many as the living embodiment of deceptive faith, control them. She jumped on the witchcraft accusation bandwagon, shrugging the blame for actual witchcraft off of herself, starting with a slave named Tituba. When confronted about the witchcraft that she herself had performed, Abby said, Now look you. All of you. We danced. And Tituba conjured Ruth Putnam’s dead sisters. And that is all. And mark this. Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you. And you know I can do it; I saw Indians smash my dear parents’ heads on the pillow next to mine, and I have seen some reddish work done at night, and I will make you wish you had never seen the sun go down! (Miller 20). Abigail’s threat to the other girls that had seen her perform witchcraft in the woods carried out well and held onto the hearts of the threatened through the rest of the ordeal. Because of this, Abigail was able to wrongly accuse many and start a spark, leading to a metaphorical fire that ultimately killed twenty people” nineteen by hanging and one by torture” all under a false pretense of faith.
Young Goodman Brown is another example of the effects of counterfeit faith, but it also delves deeper into the aftermath of the loss of faith. In this classic written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Goodman Brown is a man who embarks on a journey, despite his wife, Faith’s, resistance at his leaving. He ventures into the woods where he meets a strange traveler who is bearing in considerable resemblance to him, though perhaps more in expression than features (Hawthorne). This traveler is later on revealed to be Devil himself, implying that we all have a little bit of evil inside of us. When this older man admonishes him for being late to their meeting, Goodman Brown says that Faith kept me back awhile(Hawthorne). Aside from the fictionalized side of this statement, the screaming symbolism clearly shows that faith keeps one away from evil. It was only when Goodman Brown chose to ignore his faith that he met and conversed with the Devil. As young Goodman Brown and the Devil continued walking down the path in the forest, Goodman Brown travelled further and further away from his Faith. Eventually, at a point deep in the woods, he thinks he hears her voice and a scream, shortly followed by a sign implying that she is gone. “My Faith is gone!” cried he, after one stupefied moment. “There is no good on earth; and sin is but a name. Come, devil! For to thee is this world given” (Hawthorne). Once faith feels lost, there seems to be no point in resisting evil because one can’t feel the good anymore. Therefore, when faith is lost, the individual is lost with it.
To analytically summarize, faith has a monumentally incredible power for good if used, gained, and shared correctly. If a forged pretense of faith is used for evil, or if one’s faith is lost, it can have the equal, but ruinously opposite effect as true faith. Once one has chosen faith, all actions that follow suit are based off of that choice. Faith, instead of simply becoming a part of someone, becomes the reason behind their existence and the center of their life. As displayed by Pi, true, pure faith has the potential to pull us through the worst of times and give people a reason to, as quoted in Finding Nemo, just keep swimming.
If faith is manipulated, relented, or lost (as shown in The Crucible and Young Goodman Brown), the result can be a loss of life” whether that be physically, emotionally, spiritually, or a disastrous mix of all of them. Ultimately, faith is the keystone of a person’s decisions and well being. Life without faith is simply fear. Woodrow Kroll, a respected religious leader and previous president of Davis College, once said, The only known antidote to fear is faith. Because wickedness breeds fear, this also suggests that the only known antidote to evil is faith. True faith is the key to taking the evil out of a person and out of the world.
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