I was spending some time thinking about the types of stories and tales I like. If you have known me for any length of time (or don’t know me buy regularly read this blog) its pretty obvious. I like stories with epic history. Stories of fantasy. Stories of the unbelievable. Stories of mystery.
Here is a short list of the stories I have been into:
The Chronicles of Narnia
Pirates of the Caribbean
Lord of the Rings
I have also been known to enjoy StarTrek (specifically TNG) and a little Stargate SG-9 (come on! It has “Macgyver”)
Anyway, I digress. Something I have been thinking about it how good and evil is portrayed in these stories. Some have very distinct Good and Evil. Characters are on one side or the other. The “moral compass” of the story is very defined and unmovable. Others lean towards clear definition, but make use of the gray. Others have characters running around making “in between” decisions based on what ever seems right in that moment. There is some type of vague moral compass, but it is extremely hard to define. And still others are almost purposely completely undefined (or perhaps upside down) with all characters moving to the center, none completely good or innocent, none completely evil.
Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia fall into the first category. Good/Evil exist and each character is on one side or the other.
I think Harry Potter falls into the second group. There is a clear defined evil, but the “clear defined good” is less evident. Good characters are allowed to make sketchy moral choices for the “greater good.”
I would put LOST and Alias in the third category. We want to believe that there is definite good and evil, but when good characters make evil choices or evil characters make choices to help others, it is hard to hold firm to the idea that there is definition. In the end, there may be good and evil in these stories, but both sides are making decisions that not in line with the side each character is “committed” to.
Finally, I would put Pirates of the Caribbean in the last category. The premise of the story (Pirates – come on PIRATES – are “good”?) wants us to believe that questionable characters are the heroes. Throughout the three movies good characters become bad, bad characters become good, and then they don’t stay there, they switch again. This is done so often, all characters have moved to the same grey moral center where there is no longer definition. Can Davy Jones even be “evil?” He is simply a heartbroken man…and the excuses roll on.
So yeah, Its interesting that the two mythic stories by Christian authors are the two in the above example where good and evil are clearly defined. And in addition to that, in myth, if there is clear good and clear evil, is it not typical that the good will prevail? Arguably, they are two opposites, but not equal in strength. Good verses Evil, but in stories Good wins. Good is stronger. Yet, as clearly seen in LotR & CoN humanity is NOT the source of Good.
Anyway, I was just thinking about the similarities and differences in the stories I like. I am greatly encouraged that of all the stories, it is the clearly defined good that defeats the clearly defined and weaker evil that I like the best.
Don’t we all?