Rene Girard, Violence and the Sacred
According to Girard, order and peace within a community depend on the proper maintenance of cultural distinctions. Human desire, however, acts as a mechanism giving rise to rivalry, violence, and disorder, which erase the distinctions upon which order and peace are founded. Girard views Greek tragedy as the genre that best exemplifies the tendency of violence to erase social distinctions:
The tragedians portray men and women caught up in a form of violence too impersonal in its workings, too brutal in its results, to allow any sort of value judgment, any sort of distinction, subtle or simplistic, to be drawn between "good" and "wicked" characters (47).
Girard makes interesting use of Shakespeare to support the counterintuitive idea that it is the erasing of distinctions in society, not their presence, that gives rise to violence:
…Oh, when degree is shaked
Which is the ladder to all high designs,
The enterprise is sick! How could communities,
Degrees in schools, and brotherhoods in cities,
Peaceful commerce from dividable shores,
The primogenitive and due of birth,
Prerogatives of age, crowns, scepters, laurels,
But, by degree, stand in authentic place?