A Theory of Evil

In her foundational study of evil, the political philosopher Hannah Arendt reminds us that at his trial, Adolph Eichmann, one of the architects of the holocaust, defended himself by arguing that he had simply “done his duty” (qtd. in Kohn 645). Arendt considers this much more telling a feature of evil than grand gestures of destruction, underscoring the role of personal responsibility in committing acts of evil. Develop a complete and succinct definition of evil according to Hannah Arendt and examine how this definition applies to Tim O’Brien’s In the Lake of the Woods. Does O’Brien agree or disagree with Arendt? Does our text confirm or challenge Arendt’s definition? Does it provide a new definition? How does our primary text struggle to define evil, and how does this definition play out in the fictional character of John Wade and the historical figures involved in the My Lai massacre (Calley, Meadlo) in 1968?

Sample Solution