The Dark Heart of Man, The Cold Heart of the Machine Essay

The Dark Heart of Man, The Cold Heart of the Machine Essay

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“The first and final thing you have to do in this world is to last it and not be smashed by it.” – Ernest Hemingway. This is a seemingly simple and inarguable statement, but this sadly may not be the fate of a literary character. William Golding and Erich Maria Remarque’s young protagonists in The Lord of the Flies and All Quiet on the Western Front lose hope, identity and innocence in a Fall that is characteristic of novels that investigate the human capacity for evil in war and murder. Golding’s Ralph suffers in seeing his peers succumb to the heart of darkness without reason, explanation or redemption, whereas Remarque’s Paul is destroyed at the hands of politicians, teachers, parents and even the whole of society.
Both Golding’s and Remarque’s socioeconomic stati, political views, previous works of literature, and social backgrounds play heavily into the darker themes of the novels The Lord of the Flies and All Quiet on the Western Front. Taking a brief look at Golding, we see that he grows up a product of the English bourgeoisie, with a potently Marxist father (Crawford 4). Eventually renouncing Marxist socialism, Golding dismisses it as “a phase to be passed through in one’s adolescence, and to be grown out of as one matures.” This renunciation is not to say that the socialist moral set does not influence him and his writings throughout his life; human good and evil, the subject of many of his works, is an existential offshoot of the Marxist mindset. Darkness Visible is a Golding novel that directly scrutinizes good and evil via personification of them in Matty and Sophy respectively (Crawford 153). Golding serially analyzes good and evil in a Horatian (and at other times Juvenalian) satire (Crawford 5) of the “fascist” En...

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Herzog, Tobey C. Vietnam War Stories: Innocence Lost. London: Routledge, 1992. Print.
Lentz, Perry. Private Fleming at Chancellorsville: The Red Badge of Courage and the Civil War. Columbia: University of Missouri, 2006. Print.
Otten, Terry. After Innocence: Visions of the Fall in Modern Literature. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh, 1982. Print.
Remarque, Erich Maria. All Quiet on the Western Front. New York: Ballantine, 1982. Print.
Ringnalda, Don. Fighting and Writing the Vietnam War. Jackson: University of Mississippi, 1994. Print.
Wheen, A. W., trans. All Quiet on the Western Front. New York: Ballantine, 1982. Print.
Whissen, Thomas R. Classic Cult Fiction: A Companion to Popular Cult Literature. New York: Greenwood, 1992. Print.
Seigneuret, Jean-Charles. Dictionary of Literary Themes and Motifs: A-J. New York: Greenwood, 1988. Print.

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