Evil in Sula, Yellow Wallpaper, and Love Medicine

No Rest for the Wicked “l started out thinking that one can never really define good and evil. Sometimes good looks like evil; sometimes evil looks like good,” this quote by T. Morrison highlights the fact that evil is relative. Although evil can be, in many ways, self-defined, many characters in novels can be perceived as one thing while they are another. Written works such as, Sulk, Love Medicine, and The Yellow Wallpaper contain several examples of good vs. evil that take a closer look to deceiver.

First, in the novel Sulk, there are several characters that prove that looks can be achieving. For example, the character Sulk is perceived as a terrible person in the book. The people of the Bottom hate her for everything that she is, despite the fact that she followed the example of her mother. The story states, “The death of Sulk Peace was the best news fossils up in the Bottom had had since the promise of work at the tunnel” (150). They accuse her of things that, in their society, were deemed horrible and not moral. When Sulk attempts to help a child she is only further accused of wicked ways.

Sulk only does what she knows, and only hurts Nell because f her blindness to what their relationship has become. As well, Newel’s mother is seen as a good person in society. Helene attends church as does what is proper. The story states, “Helene Wright was an impressive woman, at least in Medallion she was” (18). However, in an attempt to be a good mother Helene pushes her opinions down Newel’s throat, leaving imagination away and replacing it with a sense of alienation. Helene wants people to see her as a wonderful woman, but her actions and motives seem only to follow selfishness and a need for importance.

Moreover, Jude does what is right by society. Jude attempts to work, he takes care of his family, he does everything he was meant to do. The story states, “Along with a few other young black men, Jude had gone down to the shack where they were hiring” (81). But Jude only married because he was settling, and when Sulk came around he didn’t have a quarrel with cheating on his wife with her best friend. He then leaves him family behind, leaving Nell to take care of the children. And, Eva is a character that can be interoperable as evil, but she only does what she does because she loves her children.

Eva kills her own son by lighting him on fire. The story states, “… Threw it onto the bed where the kerosene-soaked Plum lay in snug delight” (47). Even her daughter does not understand why Eva would do such a thing. But the truth of the matter is that Plum was slowly wasting away, Just the shell of the person he once was. His unhealthy habits and his inability to take care of himself after he was traumatized by the war brings Eva to the decision to end his suffering then and there. Secondly, in the novel Love Medicine there are several examples of evil and good reflections. For instance, the character Marie goes to the convent.

Though this can be seen only as a good and pure thing, it is revealed to the readers that Marie wants only the praise and glory she would find there. The story states, “And they never thought they have a girl from this reservation as a saint they have to kneel to (43). Maria’s reasons are not good, but rather they are wicked reasons

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that are identified as sins. Moreover, once Marie is within the convent it is revealed that she is not the only wolf in sheep’s clothing. The nun, Leopold sees the devil inside Marie. In an attempt to banish the devil from Marie, she physically harms the young girl.

The two both speak of love and both seem to have some degree of hate for the other. The story states, “She always did things this way, to teach you lessons” (51). Leopold then lies about Maria’s injuries to the other nuns to save herself. As well, Nectar is perceived as a strong individual by the community. Although Nectar keeps a high position in his community and is seen both as handsome and good, he only has such a great position because Marie made him. It was Maria’s work that made Nectar what he was. Even though he owes her a great deal he still cheats on her.

He turns away re love in favor of Lulu, committing adultery. He cares for Marie and understands he has obligations to her, but he loves Lulu. He states, “l do not compare her with Marie. I would not do that. But the way I ache for Lulu, suddenly, is terrible and sad,” (127). He puts his love first in several situations such as, when he planned to leave Marie. Lulu is also a seemingly wrongly accused character. Lulu has got a serious reputation as being a loose woman in the community. She even sleeps with married men because she does not seem to respect the value of marital ties.

However, Lulu is a errors of passion and love. The story states, “And so when they tell you that I was heartless, a shameless man-chaser, don’t forget this: I loved what I saw’ (228). Lulu’s true nature is not that of evil, it is that of love. Although some can argue that her actions were questionable, it is within her intentions that the truth is found. Lastly, in the short story The Yellow Wallpaper, evil and good is a battle that continues through the story. For example, John attempts to take care of Jane by forcing her to bed rest and limiting her activity.

Although he is a high standing doctor ND her husband it is with Cane’s point of view that the reader discovers that the bed rest could be doing more harm than good. The bed rest does not allow Jane to function as a normal human being. The story states,” Personally, I disagree with their ideas. Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good” (1). It seems that, because John is a doctor, he must know what is best for Jane and that the treatment must be good. Perhaps John himself is not evil, but the result of his actions leave Jane in a state of no return.

If evil is defined by the opposite of good then his actions have evil results. As well, John takes away Cane’s ability to write. Cane’s loss of a creative outlet is something that she finds could be making things worse. The story states, “l think sometimes that if I were only well enough to write a little it would relieve the press of ideas and rest me” (4). Cane’s mental state wavers as the story continues. Her own free will is practically ripped from her, and her writing is left to be done in secret. And, John once again creates “evil” results as he keeps Jane away from other people.

The story states, “It is so scrounging not to have any advice and companionship about my work” (4). Despite her plea to be around others, John does not trust it. His actions lead Jane farther down her road to insanity and leave her with only her own thoughts of the wallpaper through the day. Moreover, the woman in the wallpaper can be completely perceived as evil at first glance. If the woman in the wallpaper, or the center of Cane’s insanity, takes away Cane’s ability to be a person, than she must be evil. Yet, it is only when Jane reaches the point of full insanity that Jane finds herself free.

Able to do what she wants, albeit a bit strange, Jane finds freedom completely. As the story states, “Vive got out at least,’ said l, ‘in spite of you and Jane. And Vive pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back” (14)! As a symbol of woman’s suffrage, the lady in the wallpaper shows the reader how women, forced into the restraints society has put on them, must choose between insanity, and slavery. It is hard to pinpoint evil or give it a certain definition. Where are the lines drawn? Who determines what is right, necessary, and bad?

The ever pondered question that enders if people can be labeled good or evil, or if no one is strictly either, pounds through the mind of those that read. Written works such as, Sulk, Love Medicine, and The Yellow Wallpaper allow readers to see beyond what society may see in a person and look deeper into their actions and motives. Taking a step back from one’s own opinions, the reader can see the many point of views that leave certain actions, characters, and situations more clear on the moral side. If, like beauty, evil is in the eye of the beholder, there can never be a definite definition of the word.

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