Graham Greene's The Human Factor Essay

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Graham Greene's The Human Factor


"Love was a total risk. Literature had always so proclaimed it. Tristan, Anna Karenina, even the lust of Lovelace - he had glanced at the last volume of Clarissa [13]." People are torn apart from one another simply because of a lack of understanding or a difference in each individual's definition of life. The highest hopes, dreams, and aspirations of one person may be trivial in the eyes of another. The way that one would define love, good, and evil could very well be the exact opposite of another's definition. To one society or culture, a man may seem to be a god because of his beliefs and values; while, to another, that man may appear to be a devil. In his The Human Factor, Graham Greene makes the reader question his or her own values and definitions while following the fast-paced and mysterious life of an English double agent. The binding power of love, the true determent of evil and the cleansing force of good are shown to be all in the eye of the beholder. As Castle, who could easily be paralleled to both the author and the legendary and fictitious James Bond, says in the novel, love of anything is a total risk. But, it is that binding power of love, whether it is love of another or love of a country or society, that acts as a stabilizing force in society's comprehension and balance of good and evil.


The character of Castle is as complex as his interpretation of the meanings of love, good, and evil as well as the connection between the three entities. Throughout the entire novel, Greene plays on the reader's assumption that Castle is not the double-agent. More importantly, he is perhaps the only character in the novel that the reader instantly associates with and perce...

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...ions are just like those of Castle in the novel. Therefore, it is almost plausible to conclude that Greene personified himself as Castle. Since Castle seems to believe that he is the perfect spy or hero - James Bond, then Greene also believes this about himself. The beliefs of Castle would then be representative of Greene.


By taking advantage of man's natural tendencies to apply their knowledge of good, evil, and love to any given situation, Greene has made a spy mystery that requires the reader to challenge his or her own definitions. The simple story of a lone crusader in the sea of enemies becomes a battle between good and evil, God and the Devil, and love and hate through the mastery of Greene's poetic hand. In the words of Davis, the reader has become "an actor who has been miscast: when he tried to live up to the costume, he... fumbled the part" [4].

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