Holmes claim that he was a devil is a self- condemnation. Perhaps it led him to believe he lived a life of significance, though it left a powerful negative impact on society as a whole. Perhaps he referred to himself as the devil because the devil has superior power in the present, though theoretically his power will end eventually, which is what happens as Holmes is convicted of murder. Whatever the motive for this accusation personally, it is indubitably accurate. I don't think people can be inherently evil. I think everyone is essentially good inside. It is the buildup of bad actions that can lead one to become evil. However, one's perception on life can be severely altered by how they are raised. I believe everyone has potential to be amazing, but with negative influences can result destructive actions, which can lead one astray from living a pure and meaningful life. His attraction was a key in luring in his victims, which I believe was partially the result of luck. However, many find mysterious physiques of the opposite sex attractive, which may mean people were deceived by his personality being luring rather than his looks. His cold-hearted behavior stems from his childhood and his entertainment in acts that are horrific. Possibly his features of attraction led him to become cold hearted and desired to constantly lure in his victims. Regardless, his evils made an incredible change in the life of many Chicagoans and his evil lifestyle reflects much parallelism to murderers today.
You say evil comes from a build up of bad actions. But if we are inherently good, where did the initial bad that got you to the evil come from? It may be outside influence, but that bad had to come from somewhere. So, how is it possible that we are inherently good? Is evil even a thing? Or is it simply the absence of good? (Like how darkness doesn't exist, it's just the absence of light). In which case, where does the good come from, and how can it be taken away to reveal the bad? How do we define what is good and what is bad?(Please don't take this confrontationally. I'm just trying to get some ideas out there)
I get what your saying but why do we have to have one or the other? What if, in the beginning, we have half of both and then its the future actions that determine which "side" is stronger? I think this would fit reality more because even the best person makes bad choices every once in awhile. These are just considered mistakes because society is forgiving. Also in terms of an absence of evil I think you have to have one to know the other. So like you know you're alive because you know what death is and vice versa.
I agree with Kerstin. I think people aren't born evil, but we aren't born good either. Everyone is born with certain traits acquired from their parents. For example, one person may be born with stubbornness. Although it has a negative connotation, stubbornness in itself is not a bad thing. Depending upon how someone is brought up, their stubbornness can make them a determined, hard-working individual, or it can make them annoying. The trait itself was neither good nor evil. The way it was cultivated made the person behave in a good/evil way.
Good, evil, or both? A lot of times these are the choices we have to consider, but what about neither? What is “good” and what is “evil” is determined differently by mature individuals, cultures, and societies. We are born without these rulings, leaving us impressionable (a metaphorical clean slate). We may have harmful inclinations, or good intentions, but not a definite side. I’m not sure what exactly Najeeha was implying when she talked about acquired traits, but I took it to mean that the different traits went one way or another (were either leaning towards good or evil). Like Emmy said, I’m not trying to shoot down anything, just add my own idea
I like that you kind of brought nature vs. nurture into it! And while reading your comment i was thinking "well, whatever gets you through the day" so maybe claiming that he was the devil was Holmes's way to get himself through it and make him feel like he was doing something good.
I really like how Bridget takes the positive side of people being inherently good. But just as most everyone that posted on this, I’m a tad skeptical with that. But go Bridget for being positive! :] I like what Mimi Said, “Blank Slate”. But I also like how Najeeha brought in how society views things. It seems like Holmes was informed on what his actions were. He knew what he was doing was wrong, thus giving him the perception of being the ultimate evil. I also like how Bridget mentions his looks and how people would expect that because of how dashing they were, that he must’ve been a good person. But when it comes to his cold-hearted behavior, I’d have to play the Psych card and say that he had a personality disorder. Some people just tick differently, and Holmes knew that his way was wrong, so he claimed to be the Devil.
I think Holmes thought he was becoming the devil was because of all of the evil he was causing by his murders. Just like Bridget I don't think a person is born evil, but the choices we make can influence how we portray ourselves and others. The way Holmes kills and thinks nothing of it can make him an evil person, but he wasn't born this way. As For the way he looks, how can a person be so sure of how the devil looks himself much less if they're turning into him. I believe Holmes found some sort of physical attraction in killing his victims because of his past. Holmes has always wanted love, something he couldn't quite get a grasp on. So when he realized it wasn't happening anymore, instead of dealing with the pain, he killed to feel some sort of relief. This cold-hearted behavior Holmes portrays seems to come from his childhood. Hes intrigued by murder, I believe its a power thing with him. If Holmes is on top nothing can touch him; that is until he's convicted. Holmes is nothing close to a good man but it must have taken a lot of pain in his earlier years to trigger these emotions.
I definitely agree with many of your points. I like the fact that you brought in his past and analyzed why he might have been acting that way. But at the same time, there's only so many reasons like their past and love that you can give for killing people. Holmes killed many people, and it's clear that although aspects of his past were probably related to it, the main reason was because he was seriously mentally disturbed. He was a true psychopath. I mean being "aroused" by hearing the screams of women dying? I'm gonna go with psychotic.
I believe Holmes' claim of being the Devil is fairly sound. After all, murdering 200 people doesn't make you a Saint. However the question is if he even saw this as a bad thing. Was he indeed inherently evil and couldn't help himself, therefore actually regretting all he did? Or was he rather proud of what he had done and called himself the Devil out of arrogance? The idea of people being evil from birth is controversial. Personally, I believe that as false. Events and experiences craft people into who they are. No baby was ever convicted of murder. A baby is the face of innocence, for they know nothing of the evils in the world and are therefore entirely innocent. Not evil as some may claim Holmes was from the start. My explanation to Mr.Holmes actions is that of a mental disorder. I believe Holmes had a type of antisocial disorder called Narcissistic. In these version of antisocial disorders, no emotion is felt. It can be faked, which is how Holmes is so charming, but he cannot feel love, hate, guilt. He never loved any of his wives and never felt remorse for those he killed. Narcissistics are typically highly violent, and often kill for no reason whatsoever. They're also considered highly intelligent and cunning. Fits Holmes to a T.
I completely understand where you're coming from. Holmes definitely displays a large sense of arrogance throughout the novel. He seems to have set a personal challenge for himself to be as manipulative and cunning as possible.He seems to play life like a twisted chess game, always toying with and gaining the trust of his opponents and then brutally murders them and strips the skin from their bodies. Yeah, the stake are pretty high in this version.
I don't believe that Holmes really had reason to claim to be the devil. Despite however evil he may have been, that was most likely fabricated. Once he was in jail, he seemed to cry out for even more attention then he was already receiving. Personally, I don't believe that people are inherently evil, or inherently good for that matter. The character of a person is based on experiences and decisions. There are many things that people are born with, I don't believe that evil is one of them. I'm guessing that Holmes' behavior could be explained in a similar way to many other serial killers. The root of his killing could have had something to due with a mental disorder. Many disorders that effect serial killers have a lot to do with a general lack of conscience. In simpler terms, the effects of their decisions will not bother them, no matter how horrendous they are. A normal person should not be able to manipulate and murder another person for no reason. Holmes fits almost every description of a serial killer perfectly. He is sick, twisted, and brilliant. There is no doubt in my mind that Holmes was evil, but he was not born with it, and he was certainly not the devil. That idea was just another trick that Holmes tried to pull for some reason.
Garrett, I really liked how you incorporated the idea of mental disorders, just like how the book did. Larson brought up the topic of psychopaths, alluding to that being the reason behind Holmes insanity. I agree with your opinion of how people can't be inherently evil. But rather, their character is "based on experiences and decisions". Holmes actions were evil, but his psyche was not. Although, it did mention in the book that Holmes had a jagged edge to him in his early years. Could he have been born with the mental disorder? Or did something happen in his childhood that caused it? Nonetheless, Holmes was not the Devil, but, he was the epitome of a serial killer.
I believe Holmes thought he was becoming the devil just because of all the horrible crimes he had committed. For Holmes to say he was the devil probably brought a sick sense of joy to his cold, little heart. I don't think people are born specifically to be evil but they could turn evil in the way they are brought up. The decisions that we make in our lives determine who we are in the future and for Holmes, he became a cold-hearted killer. I believe that once he killed his first victim that he got addicted to feelig powerful. So instead of stopping after one, he kept finding more and more victims just to make himself happy. If someone can kill 200 people without feeling bad or ashamed then something is wrong with them; this could make one think that he was born to be evil but in all reality it was his bringing up and how he was nurtured. We can blame genetics all we want but we are in charge of our own actions and we have the choice to be good or bad.
Holmes believed that he was the devil because he saw himself as such. Although this statement initially sounds redundant, upon further review, it manages to shed light on Holmes’s unique behavior. I believe that Holmes’s drive stems from the psychological, from his unbalanced ego. Although Holmes appears to be suave and humble, he seems to harbor something of a god complex. Holmes tends to believe that he is vastly superior to everyone else, as if he is a god among men. This is evident in the way he treats other humans. Throughout the story, Holmes treats others as if they are no more than simple chess pieces and he is the player in control of them all and they are but pawns, pieces to be used in pursuit of a greater goal. Holmes also treats others as if they are pets. He pampers them, earns their affection, but he never views them as humans worthy of his respect. These traits all combine to form Holmes’s condescending nature, a nature in which Holmes feels like he must bring himself down to a human level in order to truly interact with his victims. This eventually leads to Holmes’s perception of himself as the devil. Since Holmes could find no man on earth to compare himself to, since after all, Holmes was the man who single-handedly introduced America to the horrors of serial killing, he compared himself to something more than a man. Holmes chose to compare himself to the ultimate embodiment of evil, the devil. Yet Holmes was not simply born this way. Like all other humans, he was born as an empty slate, clean, pure, and ready to be molded in any way that he or his environment would see fit. It was Holmes’s choices that made him who he is, not his birth. Because of the choices that he made, he began to see himself as the devil. In Holmes’s mind he was above every other human on the planet. This idea festered in his mind, growing until he began to think that he actually was the devil, which in turn led him to commit the atrocities that he did. No sane man could relish in the apparent enjoyment of murdering up to 200 people. But Holmes’s psychological transformation was completed. To everyone else, he was a man, a very frightening man, but a man at the core. But to his ego, Holmes was nothing less than the devil.
I really like how you point out that Holmes has both the Devil and God within him. It's true that he has some sort of 'god complex' in thinking he is superior to everyone else. I really didn't think about Holmes's superiority in terms of him being a God and it really sheds a lot of light on his nature. It left me thinking though, if Holmes has the superiority of a God and the evilness of the Devil, why did he choose to self-identify with the Devil? Do you think Holmes could have accurately claimed he was God as well? Sure, he might not be as benevolent as we portray Gods as, but could it still be accurate?
I really do agree with you when you point out how Holmes feels as if he has to dumb himself down to interact with the people around him. He feels because of his otherworldly intelligence that it allows him to do whatever he pleases to do with people around him. Your analogy to chess and how he feels that he is the master is very good.I also like how you compare him to both god, and the devil. In Holmes situation though I feel as if they are one in the same. He feels as if he has a right, a divine privilege to rule, but the devil also feels this way. He knows what is in him is evil. I disagree though with your statement about Holmes being born a clean slate and was just molded into a killer. I believe Holmes was inadvertently evil. His very nature was to be evil, he could feel the metaphorical devil inside of him.
Making Holmes’s ego the center of his physiological problems was very intelligent. I agree with everything you said about Holmes believing that he is superior to others and that is why he feels as if he can manipulate people. It is the thoughts and beliefs spurred in his mind that caused his internal evilness, not the Devil himself. I also agreed with how you said that being the first American serial killer also put him on a higher pedestal in his mind. Not only did he fool and violate many people, he was the first one to do it at large, feeding into his ego. One question I would like to raise is that you say that Holmes evolved this way from his birth. Could the Devil have been a faction in Holmes’s environment as he grew up that caused him to have such a powerful ego? The God complex is something that the Devil harbors as well, and could have very well influenced Holmes’s behavior and physiological superiority.
Holmes believed he was the devil because he believed he had the power and influences that the devil is perceived to have. The devil is thought to be this all-consuming, all-powerful being that is everything that is wrong in this world. Holmes wanted to be this. He never wanted to be a good person because he thought he was perfect at being bad. And for a while he was. I believe evil is the natural counterpart to good. A person has both and therefore in a way, a person can be inherently evil. Everyone does evil things at some point no matter how good they are, these are called mistakes. It’s when a person acts solely based upon these evil needs and wants that the evil within becomes the main part of the person. Holmes was probably attracted to the power surge that these evil actions caused. I would imagine that the rush he got from not only killing people but getting away with it would have been one of the greatest adrenaline rushes he could find. Once a person experiences these adrenaline rushes they get addicted and keep needing to go back to it. He was, essentially an adrenaline junkie.
I definitely agree with you, especially about how everyone makes mistakes in life and how embracing the evil parts will make those parts take over. However, why did Holmes want to be, as you said, "all powerful?" In what ways did he show this? In my eyes I see it as him wanting to have control over women. In the novel his targets were primarily women and some men who he basically had to get rid of to keep his evil doings a secret. I also agree with you about how Holmes was attracted to the 'power surge' of killing. At one point in the novel, Larson explains how Holmes received pleasure from the mechanics of killing. The way I see it is that Holmes couldn't help it, he simply had to give in to his evil side to experience the rush that would come with it. "I believe evil is the natural counterpart to good." I particularly like this sentence in your response, it sums everything up; evil is good's natural opposite. Without both good and evil I believe the world would become unbalanced. Jobs would be lost, and inventions that we already have wouldn't exist without people thinking 'outside of the box,' things just wouldn't be the same if everyone was good.
I do not believe that people are inherently evil. Everyone starts out a blank canvas, totally dependent upon nature, which is genetics, and nurture, which are the surrounding factors that influence the individual’s behavior. I agree with everyone’s point that Holmes’s self-perception is what caused him to “become the devil”. Not only was it a result of his terrible deeds, but it was also the motive for him to continue doing them. Holmes realized he was doing something wrong. The fact his wrong deeds gave him happiness made him think that he was the devil. How could anyone else be truly happy while doing something wrong? There was obviously some chemical imbalance in Holmes’s brain that caused him to be satisfied through murder. All of society recognized this when he was caught. That is why, towards the end, doctors wanted to study his brain. Holmes knew this would happen so he left instructions to prevent that from happening. Because he did that, it is reasonable to infer that he knew something was wrong with him. He knew he was different, and calling himself the devil was the excuse he used to explain his abnormalities.
I really like how you brought in the whole nurture and genetic aspect!I agree that no one is born specifically to be evil, but instead it's all in the way they are brought up. I also liked how you mentioned that there was probably a chemical imbalance because that makes sense, since he didn't see anything wrong with killing people. However, you did say that he knew people wanted to examine is brain so he made specific directions in order to not allow that. Him knowing that doctors wanted to study his brain makes me think that he knew he was pchyotic, and he enjoyed that title. I agree with everything you said and you said it very well. All in all, Holmes was seeking for that one excuse to call himself the devil.
Holmes claimed he was the Devil because he was fully aware of the fact that he was going to die. He wanted to make people fear him, then and now, because it amused him. It was all a game to him. He wanted to strike fear into the hearts of his fellow man, to make himself seem as darkness incarnate, because their terror and revulsion made his final days better. We know he took delight in the terror of others because of his killing methods, and how he liked to listen to his victims struggle, and his claim was an extension of that. His final grab at that euphoric high that death would soon take from him. It was rigor mortis of the soul. He wanted people to think that he was completely evil, down to his very bones, despite the fact that he was just sick. Mental diseases are serious issues; Holmes's desires and actions sprung from his condition. He lacked empathy. It wasn't that he didn't want to feel for others; he couldn't. It was impossible. He was physically incapable of caring for anyone besides himself. Of course, we'll never know for sure, because the smarmy prick encased himself in concrete.
I appreciate your response because it reminds of a feeling that is universal and that is fear. I definitely agree with you about his use of fear to bring him to greater empowerment over people. In my life, I am no stranger to manipulation and find it so intriguing how easy it is for people to get hooked after one time they feel that same “euphoric high” you mentioned of Holmes. That absolute on top of the world feeling the manipulator sucks from the distress they sense from their subject. In fact, in my opinion “evil” is a superficial label. Holmes just had a strong desire to fill up the void inside of him, and that particular method just proved successful, albeit not for long. However, as you mentioned, he was able to use this label society has anchored themselves to as his “final grab”. I really like how you conveyed this so cleverly by saying “It was rigor mortis of the soul”. One final thing, in the novel I was a little displeased by the detective’s use of “game” to describe the nature of Holmes’s actions. I hardly think it was a game, despite the amusement he got from it. It was more a necessity rather than a pastime, so I don’t think that word does it justice. What do you think about that?
Grant, the way you responded to this was amazing. I loved how you provided the support in a funny way while still getting your point across. I really loved how you talked about the physical impossibility of him feeling empathy. That's what I was thinking when I was reading about his acts.
Personally, I think Holmes was thinking he was actually the devil. I don't think there was any symbolism in anything Holmes did. I think Larson had a symbolic meaning in mentioning it, but I think Holmes was just schizophrenic. Something in his head that was planted by the pious society from which he came told him that what he was doing was evil, and made him think he was becoming the devil. However, as I said in my earlier post, I don't think Holmes was evil. I don't believe that Holmes was a moral agent, and thus incapable of making a conscious decision to be evil. I'm a supporter of Hobbe's theory of human nature (which yes, does contradict my earlier post about the blank slate theory). While Homles was inherently evil, he followed the state of nature, which led to some pretty awful ends to many people, but it was how his delusions insisted he conduct himself. I mean, think of how society would function without a criminal justice system. If someone cut you off at the grocery store or insulted you, isn't your first reaction anger? Don't you wish ill to befall your adversaries? It'd be much simpler to just punch someone in the face when they said something you didn't like, wouldn't it? When you think of small children, who are also not moral agents, what are their first reactions to being told no? They become infuriated and at times violent. That is a natural reaction. They have to be taught that shoving dirt into someone's face is not a moral way to behave. Goodness isn't intrinsic; self-serving is. In fact, one could make the argument bigger by claiming that the whole discussion about human nature's inclination towards evil is moot. What is good or bad is generally dictated by society (and religion which is part of society). For example, while drinking wine is a long-standing part of communion for many Catholics, my religion prohibits the consumption of alcohol. Catholics: Alcohol okay. My religion: No it's not. Utilitarian arguments aside, there are no grounds to say that one is more moral than the other because there is no universally accepted guide for morality. Wow, I've really digressed from the original topic. MY OVERARCHING POINT BEING, humans are naturally self-serving, and when someone who is incapable of obtaining the same moral compass as the rest of society, his or her actions may be perceived as evil. However, without being trained out of those behaviors, all humans would behave in a way that Western society deems evil. Holmes's delusions told him to kill, so he did. He became concupiscent. He enjoyed it. His actions were self serving, but not intentionally evil.
I agree that Holmes had a mental illness. The fact that he acted the way he did was a HUGE hint. Anyone who is OK with killing for no reason other than it makes him feel joy has a problem. He wasn't "evil" but he did need help. Unfortunately, at the time people didn't recognize or understand mental illnesses. I believe that in his head the lines between good and bad became blurred until he didn't understand which was which. It would be unfair to blame everything he did on an illness though, because he tried to make himself seem innocent in the book that he wrote in jail and clearly understood that he was murdering people. I also agree that Holmes began to think he was the devil vs. being like the devil.
I agree with you to a certain extent, he was a very evil guy and while he might have realized that he was evil I thnk that when he called himself the devil he was trying to say that he couldnt do anything about it and that he was inherently evil. I agree with you compleatly when you say that it probebly made him giddy to think he was the equivelent to the devil. And I also agree that its hard to believe that someone can be evil by nature.