Human nature is based on self-preservation and selfishness in both Rashomon by Ryunosuke Akutagawa and The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. In The Lottery human nature is selfish because they kill someone in the community for their own personal gain. Selfishness also has a negative effect in Rashomon due to the harmful extremes the servant takes to stay alive. The way human nature is portrayed in these two stories is sometimes similar to the way people act in real life. In Rashomon the servant turns into a thief for the purpose of staying alive.
He knows better than to steal from a woman who is already poor and living amongst corpses but he steals from her anyway. He tries to justify his actions when he says “You won’t blame me, then, for taking your clothes. That’s what I have to do to keep from starving to death. ” His words show that he knows what he is about to do is wrong, but stating his reasons for why he needs to do it makes him feel better. At the beginning of the story he has no intentions of becoming a thief.
Soon he realizes how bad his conditions are, this weakens his morals and his first priority becomes survival. This shows that when it comes to staying alive people become selfish and less concerned with other humans well being. Humans will go to extreme measures to get what they need even if that involves harming others. This story uses a lot of animal imagery to show how people become violent and tend to forget their morals when it comes to survival, it becomes almost like “dog eat dog.
” An example of this is when the woman is picking hair out of the corpses to make a wig in hopes of selling it for money; this behavior is animal like. Why is it that people resort to crimes and immoral acts before considering other options when it comes to survival? In The Lottery the community is selfish because they sacrifice someone so their crops will grow. They need their crops to flourish so they will not go hungry; this is a form of self-preservation. In real life we have laws to stop people from committing various crimes.
In The Lottery there are no laws to stop them from acting like animals and stoning each other. The fact that we have laws proves that we have them because some people do not have morals or choose to ignore them in certain circumstances. Laws were created to keep communities in order and civilized. Self preservation makes people forget about the well-being of others and instead focus on themselves. We see this in The Lottery when it says, “Mrs. Delacroix picked up a rock so large she had to use both hands to lift it. ” In the beginning of the story Mrs. Delacroix and Mrs.
Hutchinson are friends but at the end of the story when it comes down to her crops flourishing or her friend; Mrs. Delacroix is selfish and stones Mrs. Hutchinson to death. This example shows people are selfish and put their own needs first. Another example of this is when Mrs. Hutchinson say’s “it’s not right, it isn’t fair”, she is not talking about the lottery she means it is not fair that she was chosen. She would have no problem stoning someone else to death so that she could live and her crops could flourish. Human nature is portrayed the same way in Rashomon and The Lottery.
In both stories the people are selfish and harm other people to benefit themselves. In Rashomon he beats up a woman and steals her clothes so he can survive and in The Lottery the community kills Mrs. Hutchinson so their crops will flourish. Their reason for being so selfish is self-preservation. The servant doesn’t want to die so he steals from a woman who has less than him. The community in The Lottery needs food to survive so they take part in the lottery. In both stories the people act like animals because they have no laws or rules to stop them from doing so.
The difference between these stories is that in Rashomon it is only two people acting immoral but in The Lottery a whole community is acting uncivilized. In both stories human nature is portrayed negatively. In comparing this to current times, I find that Hurricane Sandy brought out the worst and the best in people. I live in a waterfront community that was badly affected by the hurricane. Some people’s homes were destroyed or flooded but that didn’t stop people from robbing homes in my neighborhood. At night we had police driving around with spotlights checking on homes and properties.
Some people chose to steal generators right off others driveways. News reports talked about opportunist who broke into damaged businesses and stole whatever they wanted. Criminals broke into flooded homes and took what little salvageable items were left. When faced with a problem people have the option to rise to the occasion or not too. Unfortunately more people choose not to. This is what makes human nature selfish for the most part. After reading the newspaper this morning stealing generators seems pretty insignificant. I came across a story I can’t seem to get past.
The Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Newton Connecticut. I cannot understand how someone could go into an elementary school and shoot innocent children for their own selfish reasons. I cannot comprehend how someone could kill his or her own mother over a petty argument and feel no guilt. It scares me to know we live in a generation where human nature is so selfish that sending your children to school has become dangerous. Because human nature is so selfish children at such a young age are exposed to so much hatred.
No six or seven year old should have to watch their classmates die for no reason other than the killer was simply having a “bad day” and needed to take his anger out on someone. The one aspect from this story that shows me human nature is sometimes still selfless is Victoria Soto. Victoria hid her students in closets and other spaces so the killer could not find them. When the killer approached her classroom door and asked where her students were she replied the gym; she was then shot. Victoria Soto may not have been able to save herself but she saved an entire classroom of innocent children.
It is sad that a horrific event like this needs to take place before human nature changes because for twenty-seven children it’s a day too late. In both Rashomon and The Lottery the people go to immoral extremes for selfish reasons. In The Lottery the community stones someone for their own personal gain. In Rashomon the servant harms a woman in worse conditions than him self for the means of survival. The way human nature is negatively portrayed in these two stories is unfortunately similar to the way people act in real life.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 13 November 2016
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