Evil Allures, But Good Endures by Leo Tolstoy
In Evil Allures, But Good Endures by Leo Tolstoy we have the theme of wealth, discontent, temptation and love. Taken from his Walk in the Light and Twenty-Three Tales collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and from the beginning of the story it becomes clear to the reader that Tolstoy may be exploring the theme of wealth. The master is a very wealthy man who owns a substantial amount of land and animals. Through his shrewdness and the goodness of the slaves he has amassed massive wealth. This may be important as it is possible that Tolstoy is attempting to separate (for the reader) the master from the slaves. To set the scene for the story. As by separating the master from the slaves Tolstoy is able to suggest disharmony or at least justify for Aleb that things are not right and that the Devil would serve him and his fellow slaves just as well as their master does.
The theme of temptation is self-evident in the story. Aleb is tempted by the devil who promises him that he will treat him better than his master does. However what is interesting is the fact that the Devil never actually offers Aleb his freedom. Though he is being tempted the devil will not reward Aleb with his freedom. It is also interesting that the other slaves do not really believe they can have a better life with the Devil. They are quite happy to work as they do for the master. However they are willing to allow Aleb prove his point and wage their holiday garments against Aleb’s holiday garments.
The title of the story is also interesting as it is directly relevant to the story. Aleb finds the lure of the Devil attractive and appealing. However the goodness of the master wins in the end. Much to the Devil’s disappointment. No matter how hard Aleb tries to anger the master he does not succeed. Even when he ends up permanently injuring the ram that the master values so much. The master is not angry. Instead he releases Aleb from his charge and allows him to become a free man. Something which actually stuns Aleb and the Devil.
In fact Tolstoy has written a story in whereby he allows for goodness to overcome evil. A tale in whereby the Devil is defeated by one man’s kindness. In reality the Devil is given no oxygen to allow him to succeed in his tempting of the slaves. Aleb also loses out because though he might be a free man. He has no job or prospects. He must start his life out all over again. It may also be a case that the master has shown Aleb real love by freeing him. He would have been in his rights to punish and be angry with Aleb but he isn’t. Even though life will be difficult for Aleb he too may end up being happy. It will be a struggle but it is possible that Aleb will know happiness despite his actions and his pact with the Devil. At the end of the story the master stuns Aleb and the Devil and the other slaves see the master’s true and generous nature.