Conflict â€" Self Vs. Society

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade April 2001

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Everyone, depending on how they are, reacts and interacts with society in a different, unique way. Usually when characters in a novel, or play, want to lean more towards their own personal idea of doing things, there is a possibility of conflict that may arise between the character and the people of society. Such cases exist in The Crucible dealing with Abagail, in The Adventured of Huckleberry Finn dealing with Jim, and also in The Scarlet Letter dealing with Chillingworth.

In the novel, The Crucible, there is much conflict going on primarily based on the particular event, witchcraft. However, another type of conflict arises in this case dealing with the character Abagail. Abagail, stricken by the Devil's witchcraft, has become egocentric in that she cares only about how things affect her and no other person. As the novel moves on and Abagail puts out a constant tissue of lies, other people become affected by this in that their life decisions are being held on the line based on what Abagail testifies.

She is only self-caring and could care less about other people and what happens to them as time moves on. Eventually, the majority of people in The Crucible's society fade away due to death, which, in all, results from the constant lying that comes from the mouth of Abagail.

Also, in the novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain sets up the character, Jim, as a slave who has already dealt with enough self-conflict because of his imprisonment. The entire novel is based upon the escaping of slavery for Jim. Jim has to ride along through many conflicts that tear him apart from society. He does realize what is right, however, and therefore he feels that society is wrong in imprisoning him into slavery. This is a major conflict between himself and the laws of this society. The bad consequence for society due to Jim in this case, is its own bad idea of slavery. The common good in this society seems to signify slavery is an okay thing to do, when in the mind of Jim, he realizes the cold truth of it and therefore states it as being bad, instead.

Last of all, the novel, The Scarlet Letter, deals with a character, Chillingworth, who is a vengeful and obsessed person that is still able to show pride and guilt through humanity's unending struggle with sin. The town small society is Chillingworth's main conflict, here. As the novel progresses, he is gradually looked at by the people as evil-natured. This is due to the slow, changing physical appearance of him. As he eventually has the whole town feeling against him, this is an evident conflicting point between himself and the society. As the town feels it is good-natured to be against him, he feels it is not for the reason that he is seemingly doing wrong to Dimesdale. Resulting from Chillingworth's slowly changing appearance, the town is confused and then upset about the whole thing. Dimesdale happens to be the town's hero, which, in this case, means Chillingworth has the town and its society conflicting against him.

In conclusion, there are many ways a person may be in conflict with another or group of anothers. In all three of these cases, each novel has its own person-versus-society conflict, and in all three novels, there has been a dire consequence resulting from the character in the way that person feels towards his/herself versus society.