Quotes on Evil

All concerns of men go wrong when they wish to cure evil with evil.

SOPHOCLES, The Sons of Aleus

The whole gamut of good and evil is in every human being, certain notes, from stronger original quality or most frequent use, appearing to form the whole character; but they are only the tones most often heard. The whole scale is in every soul, and the notes most seldom heard will on rare occasions make themselves audible.

FANNY KEMBLE, Further Records, Feb. 12, 1875

The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.


Evil is done without effort, naturally, it is the working of fate; good is always the product of an art.


There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil. The triumph of anything is a matter of organisation. If there are such things as angels, I hope that they are organised along the lines of the Mafia.

KURT VONNEGUT, JR., The Sirens of Titan

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.


No one who, like me, conjures up the most evil of those half-tamed demons that inhabit the human breast, and seeks to wrestle with them, can expect to come through the struggle unscathed.

SIGMUND FREUD, Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria

No one becomes depraved all at once.

JUVENAL, Satires

Apathy and evil. The two work hand in hand. They are the same, really…. Evil wills it. Apathy allows it. Evil hates the innocent and the defenseless most of all. Apathy doesn’t care as long as it’s not personally inconvenienced.

JAKE THOENE, Shaiton’s Fire

Apathy is the glove in which evil slips its hand.


All things truly wicked start from an innocence.


The belief that there is only one truth and that oneself is in possession of it seems to me the deepest root of all evil that is in the world.

MAX BORN, as quoted in Judith Sherven’s The New Intimacy

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.


Fairly examined, truly understood,

No man is wholly bad, nor wholly good.


Those who choose not to empathise enable real monsters, for without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves we collude with it through our apathy.

J. K. ROWLING, speech, Jun. 5, 2008

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction.

BLAISE PASCAL, quoted in The International Thesaurus of Quotations


Lord of the Flies Essay

Here is an essay question specific to Lord of the Flies. Go here to BBC Bitesize to work through some activities that will help you produce a 5 paragraph essay.


At the start of the novel, we are told:

“Ralph and Jack smiled at each other with shy liking”

Yet by the end, they are mortal enemies. What happens to ruin their friendship?


Why are Samneric important? Why did Golding create this double character?

Here are a few ideas:

  • they seem to stand for loyalty
  • they work hard
  • they are keen to keep the fire going
  • they are supporters of Ralph.

They are also used to help the build up of fear. In “Beast from the Air”: “Neither of the boys screamed but ….” And then when they have run back to the shelters, they report back what they have seen. Samneric are the last to change sides, to defect to Jack and the camp of fun. When they do, it is because they are forced to. The twins are a source of information for Ralph:

  • Jack’s plans
  • a stick to be sharpened at both ends

Here is a description of Samnericwhen they first respond to the conch being blown – “The two boys, bullet headed and with hair like tow….”

In “Fire on the Mountain”- “Now the twins, with unsuspected intelligence….”

In “Beast from the Air”, when Samneric are re-kindling the fire and are terrified at the noise of the parachute in the wind.

Their imaginations run wild in their description of the beast – and this confirms the terror, leading to a “real hunt”.

After the killing of Simon, the twins still operate with some sort of conscience. They do not wish to admit to being involved -“Yes. We were very tired,” repeated Sam, “so we left early.”

The twins are helpful, loyal or scared in the novel but there is more to them as:

  • They show understanding of Jack and his followers when they talk of his being painted.
  • They show understanding of what Roger has become: “He’s a terror.”