Life Is Not Paradise Life can often appear to be full of despair. In the constant struggle between good and evil, evil seems to get the upper hand. This is also the case in the novel, The Green Mile, by Stephen King. The story and experiences of the main character, Paul Edgecombe, the supervisor at a prison block in the 1930’s, are the epitomy of the following quote. “Life is not paradise. It is pain, hardship, failure, and temptation shot through with radiant gleams of light, friendship, and love. ” This expresses the ideas that the majority of life consists of darkness and hardship, but has strong glimpses of light, love, and happiness.
This agrees completely with the ideas expressed by Stephen King in The Green Mile. Throughout the novel, these same ideas of an imperfect world can be identified through the repetition and symbolism that makes the message so clear and strong. The message that despite the overwhelming sadness, despair, and darkness in the world, we are blessed with the powerful moments of love, light, and good. The story, told from the perspective of the main character, Paul Edgecombe, gives the same message portrayed by the quote. Paul,being the supervisor of a block in Cold Mountain Penitentiary where inmates awate the electric chair, has seen alot of evil.
Time after time, the block where Paul works recieves someone or something more evil than man, and time after time Paul partakes in the execution, where he sees the man die, but that evil lives on. Paul had served for over seventy executions, and finally good, rather than evil, comes through the door and into the E block. His name is John Coffey and he has a gift. John Coffey was wrongly accused of the murder of two children and sentenced to death. John has the ability to see and feel the fact that the world was full of evil better than anyone else.
Constantly crying over the darkness of mankind, John Coffey, however, was the light. He has the ability to take the evil or darkness out of those around him and destroy it, heal them. For example, John removes the evil from the warden Hal Moore’s wife in the form of cancer, a tumor deep in her brain. Although the world is full of darkness, people like John are examples of the gleaming glimpses of light in the world. When it was almost time for John to go to the electric chair, he said “Im rightly tired of the pain I hear and feel, boss…. Im tired of people bein ugly to each other.
Im tired of all the times I’ve wanted to help and couldn’t. There’s too much. ” This agrees completely with the quote, expressing how life is not easy, it is full of pain and hardship which can only be lessened by the radiant light of the world. The good that can cancel out the evil, the people like John Coffey. John, however, was not the only example good on the E block in Cold Mountain Penitentiary. There was also Mr. Jingles. Mr. Jingles, a curious mouse who took a liking to a prisoner named Del, is another character who is a part of the radiant light of the world helping to cancel out the evil.
Almost like he is able to detect who is good and who is evil, Mr. Jingles lives in the prison block avoiding those who are evil. People like Percy Wetmore. Percy, however, is one of the gaurds, not an inmate. This makes no difference to Mr. Jingles, however, he seems to spot out who is fundamentally good or evil regardless of position. Percy ends up stomping on Mr. Jingles, bringing him to the edge of death. John Coffey, however, uses his healing powers and saves Mr. Jingles, another example of the gleaming light shining through the darkness of the world.
John Coffey, regarding this darkness, says “Thats how it is. Every day. All over the world. That darkness. All over the world. ” John being executed also supports the quote interpretation, showing that although both good and evil are present in the world, the evil and darkness always seem to have the upper hand, with just the occasional “radiant gleams of light” shining through. Throughout this story, Stephen King uses examples of symbolism in The Green Mile in order to reinforce the overall message of both the story and the interpreted quote.
This symbolism is very clear throughout the book. For example, Bill Wharton is another inmate in the same block as John Coffey. Wharton is the man who actually killed the girls Coffey was convicted for killing. Wharton can be seen as a symbol of pure evil and darkness in this story, as John Coffey symbolises the goodness and the light. Mr. Jingles is another symbol of this goodness and light in the world. Especially because he is so small and defensless and is even crushed by Percy Wetmore, who is another symbol of the evil in the world. These symbols of good and evil and ight and darkness show the struggle between the two, and express the ideas of the story and the quote in a more clear way, showing that the good and evil in the world will always be pitted against each other, but thats just a part of life and needs to be accepted. Also, the ideas of good and evil expressed by this quote are also expressed by Stephen King through the use of repitition. All throughout the story, lines that really show this idea of evil presiding all throughout the world, with goodness and light shining through whenever it can, are repeated in order to solidify the ideas and make the message that much more clear.
Throughout the story, the main character thinks back to the murdered children, which Coffey was accused of killing, several times. The murder of the two girls seems to be the go to example of evil and darkness in this story. Every time it goes back to the grusome murder it reinforces the idea of darkness being everywhere. Also, the line “Thats how it is. Every day. All over the world. That darkness” is repeated several times near the end of the book, in order to express the same message interpreted from the quote. The idea that good and evil are in a constant struggle.
That evil and darkness are all over the world and that the light is in people like John Coffey and even a mouse like Mr. Jingles. Although life is full of darkness all over the world, there are always moments of happiness and light which shine through with extraordinary power. The quote “Life is not paradise. It is pain, hardship, failure, and temptation shot through with radiant gleams of light, friendship, and love” expresses the ideas that life consists of darkness and hardship, but has strong glimpses of light, love, and happiness.
This agrees completely with the ideas expressed by Stephen King in The Green Mile. The experiences of Paul Edgecombe, the healings of John Coffey, and the pure evil of people like Bill Wharton show this exact same idea throughout the novel. These same ideas of an imperfect world can be identified through the repetition of powerful lines and symbolism of important characters and items that makes the message so much stronger. The message that despite the overwhelming sadness, despair, and darkness in the world, we are blessed with the powerful moments of love, light, and good.