Literary Quotations
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QUOTES ON EVIL


I believe there are monsters born in the world to human parents.... The face and body may be perfect, but if a twisted gene or a malformed egg can produce physical monsters, may not the same process produce a malformed soul?

JOHN STEINBECK, East of Eden

All spirits are enslaved which serve things evil.

PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY, Prometheus Unbound

I think for the most part people are good to start with. I think evil is somethin you bring on your own self. Mostly from wantin what you ain't supposed to have.

CORMAC MCCARTHY, The Sunset Limited

I know indeed what evil I intend to do,
but stronger than all my afterthoughts is my fury,
fury that brings upon mortals the greatest evils.

EURIPIDES, Medea

I am not more sure that my soul lives, than I am that perverseness is one of the primitive impulses of the human heart — one of the indivisible primary faculties, or sentiments, which give direction to the character of man. Who has not, a hundred times, found himself commiting a vile or a stupid action, for no other reason than because he knows he should not? Have we not a perpetual inclination, in the teeth of our best judgement, to violate that which is Law, merely because we understand it to be such?

EDGAR ALLAN POE, The Black Cat

What is there so ponderous in evil, that a thumb's bigness of it should outweigh the mass of things not evil, which were heaped into the other scale!

NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE, The House of the Seven Gables

All human beings ... are commingled out of good and evil.

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

I think it's relatively easy for people to accept something like telepathy or precognition or teleplasm because their willingness to believe doesn't cost them anything. It doesn't keep them awake nights. But the idea that the evil that men do lives after them is unsettling.

STEPHEN KING, Salem's Lot

For never, never, wicked man was wise.

HOMER, The Odyssey

Active Evil is better than Passive Good.

WILLIAM BLAKE, Annotations to Lavater

For every life and every act
Consequence of good and evil can be shown.
And as in time results of many deeds are blended
So good and evil in the end become confounded.

You believe evil about everybody. But you see it's because you haven't the true faith; that's just what it is.

AUGUST STRINDBERG, The Father

On Cain's kindred did the everlasting Lord avenge the murder, for that he had slain Abel; he had no joy of that feud, but the Creator drove him far from mankind for that misdeed. Thence all evil broods were born, ogres and devils and evil spirits — the giants also, who long time fought with God, for which he gave them their reward.

The evil that is in the world always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding. On the whole men are more good than bad; that, however, isn't the real point. But they are more or less ignorant, and it is this that we call vice or virtue; the most incorrigible vice being that of an ignorance which fancies it knows everything and therefore claims for itself the right to kill. There can be no true goodness, nor true love, without the utmost clear-sightedness.

ALBERT CAMUS, The Plague

A resolution to avoid an evil is seldom framed till the evil is so far advanced as to make avoidance impossible.

There is, I believe, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evil— a natural defect, which not even the best education can overcome.

JANE AUSTEN, Pride and Prejudice

I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one. . . . Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil. . . . There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?

JOHN STEINBECK, East of Eden

I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss, and, in their struggles to be truly free, in their triumphs and defeats, through long long to come, I see the evil of this time and of the previous time of which this is the natural birth, gradually making expiation for itself and wearing out.

CHARLES DICKENS, A Tale of Two Cities

What's true of all the evils in the world is ... it helps men to rise above themselves.

ALBERT CAMUS, The Plague

For he that does good, having the unlimited power to do evil, deserves praise not only for the good which he performs, but for the evil which he forbears.

SIR WALTER SCOTT, Ivanhoe

In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit.

AYN RAND, Atlas Shrugged

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