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which, according to the story, does not deserve to be sheltered or spared. In a sense it is precisely the good contained in evil that makes evil so very dangerous.58 But often in such cases it seems impossible to separate the good from the evil, so that the feeble germ of the good must perish along with the dark forces. Or, applying the same principle to an individual case: Even if a murderer possessed by the Devil has a little soft spot in his soul, sentimental pity is not appropriate, for the soft spot is not large or deep enough to become a seedbed of goodness, but merely helps him to deceive people more easily. This is the cruel insight that this widespread type of fairy tale forces upon us. It is a difficult problem in life to decide whether we should try to develop the germ of goodness in evil men by loving acceptance, or whether we should destroy it unmercifully along with the evil. Every situation of this kind presents a conflict; the individual is called upon to play the part of fate. In this respect the fairy tale offers no help; as is so often the case, it merely formulates a paradox. There is a Latvian tale59 that seems especially illuminating in this connection. A woodcutter measures his mettle with the Devil. While hunting a marten, he gets lost in the woods and meets numerous animals who are fighting over the privilege of singing the dirge of an elk who has just died. He settles the dispute by singing it himself. Thereupon the grateful animals reward him with the power to assume their shape, that of an ant, fly, cat, lion, greyhound, and so on. Then he attempts to rescue a princess who has been sacrificed to the Devil. In the form of an ant he follows the Devil into a mountain, and in the form of a lion tears him to pieces. But then he is faced with a problem: How is he going to return to the upper world? The ravished princess leafs through the dead Devil’s book and finds out that if a certain diamond egg, hidden in a tree, is brought from hell to the upper world, the crystal castle, where the woodcutter and princess both are, will also rise up. In the shape of a sparrow, the woodcutter finds the egg. He turns himself into a cat, takes the egg in his mouth, and has himself kicked into the upper world by the doorkeeper of hell, who detests cats. Then, with the help of the egg, he raises up the crystal palace, princess and all, and lives with her there happily ever after. What is especially significant for our purposes is the diamond egg, for it is not destroyed along with the Devil, but serves as a magic instrument by which to restore what has been lost in the Devil’s kingdom to the human

Profile for Lewis Lafontaine

Marie - Louise Von Franz - Archetypal Dimensions of the Psyche -  

Marie - Louise Von Franz - Archetypal Dimensions of the Psyche -  

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