Critical Lens Sample

By Dan Koh

 

    Evil comes in many forms(Intro general sentence).John Calvin states, "The evil in our desires typically does not lie in what we want, but that we want it too much."( quote and author)  This means that the darkness in our wishes does not depend on what we yearn for, but that greed drives us to desire it more than that is necessary (INTERPRETATION).  This is apparent in the short story, "Button, Button" written by Richard Matheson and in the biblical story of "Adam & Eve: First Sin and Punishment." (AUTHORS AND TITLES) In both stories the characters, Eve and Norma, desire for something, but eventually wants it so bad out of curiosity and greed that it leads to evil. (THESIS)  The authors use literary elements such as theme, symbol, personification, irony and characterization to exemplify that the evil in both Norma's and Eve's desires lie merely upon the extent to which they want it (CONTINUED THESIS). 

    In "Button, Button," Mr. Steward gives Norma a mysterious box and explains to her that if she presses the button than she will receive fifty thousand dollars, but the consequence is that a random person that she does not know will die.  The mysterious box represents Norma's curiosities and temptations.  It is evident from the day that she receives the box that she is curious about what would happen if she pressed the button.  An example of this is when she says to her husband, "Doesn't it intrigue you?"  Unlike her husband, who dismisses any idea of pushing the button and suggests returning the box, Norma contemplates on whether she should push the button or not.  In the beginning her curiosities of the box are innocent, however, she begins to grow more and more curious as time passes and her innocent curiosity leads to evil desires.  The fact that she is willing to take the chance of pushing the button and as a result possibly murder someone in order to get a great sum of money shows that her desires are way beyond necessary and leads to greed.  The author also uses characterization to show the development of Norma from the beginning to the end.  In the beginning, Norma is only curious on what the box is and does not even think about pushing the button, however in the end, greed and curiosity drive her to push the button so badly that she ends up doing so.  The author also uses irony to show that if one desires something too much, then it will come back and haunt them later.  As in the case of Norma, the consequence of her pushing the button is that her husband is killed and she receives money from his life insurance.  This is irony because Norma thought that a random person would be killed, but instead her husband is killed and Mr. Steward states, "Do you really think you knew your husband?" In "Button, Button", the author uses irony, characterization, and symbolism to show that the evil in our desires lie on the fact that we want it too much. 

    In Adam & Eve, personification, characterization, irony, and symbolism is used to show that the darkness in our desires lie in the fact that we want it too much.  In the story, Adam and Eve are isolated in a Paradise Island and they are able to enjoy life.  However, a tree is planted in the garden and God tells them not to eat the apples from the tree.  The tree represents curiosity for both Adam and Eve, but it is only innocent curiosity and they do not even think about defying God's wishes.  However, personification is used to introduce the serpent into the story and the serpent represents greed.  The serpent says to Eve, "You will not die for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened."  Eve is tempted by the serpent to eat the apple because she wants to be the equal of God.  Characterization is used also to show the development of Eve's greed and curiosity.  In the beginning, she is only curious as to what would happen if she ate the apple, however after the serpent convinces her and tempts her, she is not only curious but also greedy because she wants to be better than God.  Irony is used in this story to show that it's not the desires that are the driving force of evil, but rather the extent of the desire.  Although Eve thinks that she would be invincible and greater than God if she eats the apple, the consequence of her eating the apple is that the world is introduced to pain and other bad things.  Literary elements such as personification, symbolism, irony, and characterization are used throughout the story to exemplify that the evil in our desires lies merely upon the extent of our wishes. 

     In the short story, "Button, Button" written by Richard Matheson and in the biblical story of "Adam & Eve: First Sin and Punishment" the characters, Eve and Norma, desire for something, but eventually wants it so bad out of curiosity and greed that it leads to evil.  The authors use literary elements such as theme, symbol, personification, irony and characterization to exemplify that the evil in both Norma's and Eve's desires lie merely upon the extent to which they want it.