Nature of the beast?

中国日报网 2014-12-19 13:37



Nature of the beast?

Reader question:

Please explain “nature of the beast” in this sentence: “The majority of the racial problems are just the nature of the beast…”

My comments:

To paraphrase:

Race problems are hard to resolve, because racial prejudices die hard.

And that’s jus the way it is – or has been so far.

Yes, put another way, the nature of the beast means it’s just the way it is, the way things are, even though they are very unpleasant.

Now, definitions. Nature refers to the inherent character or characteristic of a person or thing. Beast, on the other hand, is a fierce animal. Or when we talk of a person as a beast, we refer to the beastly characters of the man, his baser sentiments, that is, characteristics usually associated with lower animals. Humans are supposed to be noble as a species but we still have the beast in us, and that’s a fact of life. The beast in us is something we have to keep under control, constantly.

When that part of us gets out of hand in some people, it turns them into the worst beasts and even worse – as it turns Henry Jekyll into Edward Hyde.

Oh, by the way, have you seen the movie Beauty and the Beast? That title is a handy example to illustrate our point. Beast is the very opposite of beauty.

Hence, you see, the “nature of the beast” as a phrase always points to the ugly and unpleasant aspect of something or situation.

And because it’s the “nature” of it, it is hard to change.


All right. Here are media examples of “nature of the beast”:

1. Adobe chief executive Shantanu Narayen (pictured with chief technology officer Kevin Lynch) today denied reports that he has been negotiating with Microsoft about a possible acquisition.

The New York Times reported last month that Narayen met with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to talk about an alliance against Apple, which might include an acquisition. Speaking on-stage at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Narayen said the discussion really focused on “how we can be a great ISV” — in other words, an “independent software vendor” reselling Microsoft products. Interviewer John Battelle suggested that the key word there was probably “independent”, and Narayen replied, “Absolutely independent”. (The Times later reported that the discussions did move past the preliminary phase.)

So why the rumors of a Microsoft acquisition gave a big boost to Adobe stock, Battelle asked. Why do investors like the idea of a Microsoft-Adobe acquisition? Narayen responded that acquisition rumors always send the supposed acquiree’s stock price up.

“It’s just the nature of the beast,” he said.

- Adobe CEO says he has no plans to sell,, November 16, 2010.

2. During the days leading up to the Jets’ opener against the Bills, wide receiver Santonio Holmes reported that Mark Sanchez was “rattled” by the news that the team traded for Tim Tebow.

Sanchez disputed the word choice, but not the fact that he was taken aback by the decision to bring the world's most celebrated backup quarterback to New York. Whatever word you want to use, it seems that the Tebow trade and the resulting media firestorm have acted to bring out something new and better from the Jets’ embattled quarterback.

It’s probably not too great a stretch to suggest that Sanchez had as good a day as he has ever had in the NFL in Sunday’s 48-28 win over the Bills. He threw three touchdowns, showed good accuracy, hit some deep passes and generally ran the team like the unquestioned starting quarterback that the Jets (and no one else) insisted he has always been.

We’re not naive enough to believe that one great performance from Sanchez will mean a thing if and when the Jets take a punch to the nose like they delivered on Sunday, but that doesn’t make what he did on Sunday means any less.

Sanchez knew that his performance in this game was going to be scrutinized with a frenzy that doesn’t belong in the first week of the regular season and he delivered a game that completely flipped the script we followed all summer.

That’s a big statement to make right out of the gate. The pressure will remain on because that’s just the nature of the beast, but Sanchez reminded everyone that he’s a quarterback while the other fella is a football player.

- The Good, Bad and Ugly of the Jets Win,, September 10, 2012.

3. What’s wrong with the Republican Party? Ask a Democrat and the answer is simple: the Republican Party.

“One of the things that emerges here is how negative Republicans are about their own party,” Stan Greenberg, Democratic pollster and former adviser to President Bill Clinton, said.


The House of Representatives, which is in Republican hands, might become more “competitive” for Democrats, Greenberg said. And the Senate, which Democrats hold, looks slightly less likely to flip, although he concedes that Republicans are still likely to pick up seats.

Despite the pessimism appearing in the polls and being pushed by prominent Democrats, Republicans still think they have a good shot of coming out on top in Congress.

Political statistician Nate Silver confirmed the growing conventional wisdom that the Senate now looks like a tossup in 2014.

Larry Sabato, the University of Virginia’s political sage, says that Republicans aren’t likely to change course in reaction to their internal divisions because redistricting in 2010 made congressional seats resistant to national trends.

“I see it playing a much bigger role in 2016 than 2014,” Sabato said. “I think it’s likely that Republicans will gain seats in one or both houses and they’ll misinterpret those gains.

“They’ll see this as a validation of their positions when, in fact, the presidential election will reopen their problems.”

As for 2016, Rick Wiley, a former Republican National Committee political director, dismissed the Democratic hand-wringing.

“Political parties by nature have internal conflict. It’s just the nature of the beast right now,” Wiley said. “It’s way too early to say right now in 2013 that if Republicans don’t do x, y and z, we’re going to lose in 2016.”

- What’s Wrong With the Republican Party? Ask a Democrat,, July 23, 2013.





About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at:, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.



Caught up in the moment?

Power play?

Brick and mortar

Capturing the imagination

Stirring the pot

Foxhole mentality


(作者张欣 中国日报网英语点津 编辑:祝兴媛)


上一篇 : Caught up in the moment?
下一篇 : A long shot?



















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