The Justification Of Evil Acts From The Beginning Of Time

1354 words - 6 pages

The Justification of Evil Acts From the beginning of time, evil has infiltrated and corrupted every aspect of human culture. Ever since, man has attempted to justify the presence of evil in their lives in an attempt to escape the guilt and condemnation of society, God, and themselves. In their writings, Marquis de Sade and Robert Browning both confront evil, particularly murder, using their differing Enlightenment and Romantic perspectives respectively. While Marquis de Sade presents his philosophy of cruelty and evil in his work "From Philosophy in the Bedroom" using reason and scientific observation according to the ideals of the Enlightenment, Robert Browning relies on Romanticism to validate the extreme and evil actions taken by the speaker in his poem "Porphyria's Lover".
Though not a typical Enlightenment writer, Marquis de Sade advocated for an extreme concept of freedom and human rights to the point that he saw no need for laws or authority governing his moral decisions. Concerning religion, de Sade, though he did not wholly reject the existence of God, reasoned that God must be malicious and cruel himself if he allowed such evil and cruelty to exist in the world. Therefore, de Sade concluded that mankind holds the right given through Nature to exercise cruelty in any way they prefer.

Marquis de Sade begins "From Philosophy in the Bedroom" with a theory which states that cruelty is natural and is implanted within the hearts and minds of men by Nature herself. By describing cruelty as the "energy in a man", de Sade sees it as a virtue and not a vice (De Sade 137). In order to pacify the nature of man, de Sade prescribes a solution to society saying, "Repeal your laws, do away with your constraints, your chastisements, your habits, and cruelty will have dangerous effects no more, since it will never manifest itself save when it meets resistance" (De Sade 137-138).
De Sade then shifts to a more scientific tone when he addresses Nature and poses the question: Is murder a crime? This "burning pursuit of truth" leads de Sade to the comparison of man and beast in which he states that there is no reasonable difference between mankind and other animals (De Sade 138). The cycle of life and destruction leads man to the belief that Nature uses death as merely a change from one form of existence to another. To justify the act of murder, de Sade argues that, as humans, we are given the duty to aid Nature in the destruction of others with the goal of creating an orderly universe and community by providing her with the necessary materials for reconstruction. By following their natural impulses, man can live guilt-free by claiming "how may we suppose ourselves guilty in [Nature's] regard when we do nothing more than obey [Nature's] intentions?" (De Sade 140). He concludes this portion of his argument by asserting his authority as an Enlightenment thinker by exclaiming that what he has claimed is "more than what is needed to convince any enlighte...

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