The Emergency Exit: The Nature of Evil and Madness in Literature
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This thesis seeks to explore the nature of evil and madness in literature and, more specifically, its origin. In the first section there will be a close reading and comparison of two characters who have descended into madness through the creation of new personas, Jack in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, and the Joker in Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke. The second section will be a short piece of fiction exploring a man’s fall into madness, using elements of Jack and the Joker's downfall as a framework in an attempt to portray how madness germinates and evolves in the mind. In short, this thesis will argue that, in literature, the creation and development of a persona can lead to a man’s descent into madness and that this method is fueled by both nature and nurture in the form of identity and tragedy as the main catalysts that corrupt the mind. Nonetheless, the final step into madness is indeed a step, a willing choice to abandon a previous identity and worldview and, ultimately, despite external influences, it is a decision for which only the protagonist himself is responsible.