Evil and charm are considered by many people to be very different things. It is not often that it is thought that evil and charm coexist together. Evil is defined to be; morally bad, or wicked, while charms definition is; a trait that fascinates, allures or delights. According to British author Brian Masters”evil is something you recognize immediately you see it: it works through charm.” Masters argument can be backed up through two pieces of literature, Shirley Jacksons “The Lottery” and William Faulkners “A Rose For Emily.” Both stories display evil and charm coexisting together in a society through setting, characters attitudes and symbolism. “The Lottery” is a somewhat sick, twisted story that sets the reader up with the right and then pops them one with the left.
To begin, the setting makes the reader feel all warm and good inside, and gives the reader the feeling that the story is going to be a cheerful one. “The morning of June 27 was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green.” (Jackson 229) Here, the author shows that summer is just beginning, and that with summer, life is just beginning. The flowers are blossoming, the grass is a rich shade of green, and the towns people are gathering in the square between the post office and the bank. The descriptions of the town are very misleading to the reader in terms of what is taking place. The charm of the town delights the reader at the start and gives the reader a comforting feeling about what is going to happen.
The evil of the town is hidden behind a mask of charm. The characters in “The Lottery” are very misleading to the reader in terms of character traits. The characters attitudes towards the lottery are very upbeat and display that the characters have no problem with the fact that they are attending a lottery. The fact that a lottery is taking place leads many to believe that there is a chance to win money for free.
Where in this case it is the chance to kill someone by stoning him or her to death. Throughout the whole story the towns peoples attitudes are lackadaisical; they dont care about the lottery, and seem to only want it over with. “The whole lottery took less than two hours, so it could begin at ten oclock in the morning and still be through in time to allow the villagers to get home for noon diner.” (Jackson 229) Here it is seen that the lottery something insignificant and meaningless to the towns people. Evil is definitely displayed here, as the event that is being organized and will take place is considered to be morally bad. The charm of the people involved shines through brightly in character traits that are displayed.
It is displayed that the persons involved in the event are excited to be there and delightful towards the fact that they are about to kill a person. Another example of “The Lottery” displaying evil and charm coexisting together is the symbolism that is used in the story. The black box is the central idea or theme in the story. It symbolizes at first some type of mystery, but reading further into the story it is realized that it is synonymous with doom. The box is symbolic of the towns peoples fear of change, it is old and splintered showing that the people of the town would rather cling to what is familiar rather than change, symbolizing the traditions of the community. No one in the town questions the box, but accept it as a part of their lives.
The box considered by the towns people to be charming, but has a direct link to the evil in the town as it determines who will be sacrificed in order for the people to be happy. Another story in which evil and charm coexist is “A Rose For Emily” written by William Faulkner. “A Rose for Emily” is told by a nameless narrator describing the life of a pathetic woman, Emily. The setting of the story is seen through the view of the narrator, which seems to be the voice of the town. Emilys house is the main focus throughout the story, as the narrator constantly talks about what may be going on inside the house.
The house seems to fascinate the town, the numerous remarks that arise throughout the story lead the reader to believe that the whole town knows about Emilys house. “Only Miss Emilys house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumpsand eyesore among eyesores.” (Faulkner 27) Emilys house is the evil part of the town as seen by the people in the town because it has become and eyesore in the community and but yet they are all drawn to the house, always wondering what is going on inside and what Emily is up to. The attitude of the narrator displays to the reader that the town is drawn to the life of Emily. The whole town has an idea on what type of life Emily led, but their image of Emily is created through gossip and assumptions that were made as a result of the lack of time Emily spent out in the public. The town assumes that Emily has a problem with maintaining a clean house and assume that the stench coming from here house can just be covered up, so that is what they do. “They broke open the cellar door and sprinkled lime there, and in all the out buildings…they crept quietly across the lawn and into the shadow of the locust that lined the street.
After a week or two the smell went away.” (Faulkner 28) The attitude of the town displayed her demonstrates that the people of the town feel that Emily has a evil aura to here as they are to afraid to knock on her front door and ask her what the smell is coming from her house. Instead the town decides to cover up the smell most likely because they are to fascinated with Emily to actually talk to her. This characteristic of the town results in the town being somewhat evil in terms that the people of the town cannot even speak to someone that delights them. As a result the town would rather make up stories about Emily than find out the truth. Symbolism is another method that shows how evil and charm coexist in “A Rose for Emily.” The people of the town believed that Emily was a flower lover and that she loved to have them around.
Especially roses. But the roses that Emily adored were just a symbol to confuse the town of her desire. The symbol of the rose is used to represent the preservation of roses. When preserving them they must be dried out.
Emily has done exactly this, but not with roses, with her love, Homer. “For a long while we just stood there, looking down at the profound and fleshless grin. The body had apparently once lain in the attitude of and embrace, but now the long sleep that outlasts love, that conquers even the grimace of love, had cuckold him.” (Faulkner 33) Emily had preserved Homer much like one does a dried out rose. The towns people are shocked at this as they realize that Emilys charm was a disguise for the evil that she possessed. In both Shirley Jacksons “The Lottery” and William Faulkners “A Rose for Emily” evil occurs but is masked by charm.
Setting, characters, and symbols help to display this and reinforce that Brian Masters was correct in arguing that “evil is something you recognize immediately you see it; it works through charm.”