Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Nature of Man

     “What is the nature of man?”  The question  has stumped many men from
the earliest of times. It is the question that every single existing worldview
attempts to answer. Although, of all worldviews only one can truly be correct.
Throughout the course of history man has expressed his opinion on this subject in
many different ways. One of which - through literature. Two of many examples,
both considered magnificent art, are Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, and Robert Lewis
Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Both Shelly and
Stevenson expressed their completely opposite worldviews in these books, whether
they knew it or not. As it is, both books include hideous monsters; monsters that
resemble the nature of man.
    In Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, the nature of man is explained through the
personality of “The Monster”. The monster is basically artificial life. A genius
doctor has created it out of the sheer desire to create it. Terrified, the doctor
abandons his creation and leaves him to walk the earth unattended. As the monster
travels he learns to communicate, as well as learn the characteristics of human
beings. His first desire is to be good, but because of his appearance people
want nothing to do with him. He then decides to commit crimes in order to curse man -
specifically the doctor. It is through these happenings that Shelly reveals her
worldview of man through this monster. First, that man is basically good. When the
monster was created, his first desire and nature was to help and do good to others.
Although, because of the how he is treated, he turns to evil ways. This tells us that
society is responsible for evil acts. Shelly’s last and most important view seen in
this book is that man can save himself. As quoted by the monster, “Make me happy,
and I shall again be virtuous.” (Frankenstein, Mary Shelly, pp. 96) These are all
views of the nature of man given in Shelly’s famous novel, and many agree with
these views. Although, the Bible disagrees with all of them.
    Robert Lewis Stevenson, on the other hand, gives us a completely different
view on this subject. In the book Dr. Jekyll and Mr, Hyde, a reasonably “good” man
named Dr. Jekyll has created a potion to bring out his “bad” side. After drinking
the potion his bad side is revealed by transforming into a hideous monster named
Mr. Hyde.  As Mr. Hyde, he participates in evil doing but later murders a friend. At
first, the doctor switches from Jekyll to Hyde whenever he pleases,  soon the
potion takes over and he is changing between the two figures whenever the potion
pleases. He eventually gets stuck as Mr. Hyde, and in order to keep himself from
doing any more evil, he kills himself. Stevenson’s worldview is extremely different
than Shelly’s. As Jekyll turns to Mr. Hyde Stevenson is telling us that man is
inherently sinful. Like Jekyll, man was started good, but by his own doings fell.
Romans 7:14 states this as Paul writes, “For we know that the Law is spiritual; but I
am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.” It is said even more clearly in Luke 18:19, “no
one is good - except God alone.” Another view Stevenson expresses is that the
individual man is responsible. Paul says in Galatians 6:5, “For each will have to bear
his own load.” Finally, when Jekyll is trapped as Mr. Hyde, Stevenson is revealing
that man does nothing to save himself. Matthew 4:4 says, “Jesus answered, man
cannot live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
    As seen, Stevenson happens to have the biblical worldview in this case. The
nature of man can be summed up to one word: bad. From Adam every man has
inherited sin, and cannot save himself. It is man’s nature to do evil, even if he
desires good. Romans 7:15 says, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to
do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” It is only through the blood of Christ Jesus
that man can turn from his sinful ways, and accept righteousness.

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