Star Wars, Superman, James Bond—all of these are stories which chronicle the ever-present warfare between good and evil. What exactly is good? How does one describe evil? The answers to these questions are highly subjective, and could be debated for years on end without ever reaching a final conclusion. However, it is widely agreed that each person is inherently born with two sides; one of which is good, the other evil. It is this sense of inherent good and evil in all of us that William Golding tried to warn and protect society against in his classic, The Lord of the Flies.
It is clear to anyone who reads this book that Golding is trying to exaggerate the inherent good and evil in the boys on the island. The boys are all well-raised, British prep school boys. They have grown up in a dignified and sophisticated society, and are by no means savage before they crash on the island. However, in a very short period of time, the boys lose the intelligence and sophistication they had been raised with, and become wild and crazy and almost completely devoid of any signs of civilization.
The boys come to the island controlled by their inherent good, but the longer they stay, the more the inherent evil begins to take over. Inherent good and evil are also represented in the book through different characters. For example, Simon seems to be the most sensitive and civilized boy on the island. He is also the only one who recognizes that the true beast on the island is inside the boys themselves. Simon represents the inherent good in human beings. However, Roger is clearly bloodthirsty with little or no concern for those he hurts when while he is trying to accomplish a task.
In fact, Roger enjoys deliberately hurting other boys on the island. Roger is representative of the inherent evil in man-kind. Through these examples and many more, Golding clearly warns us against the good and evil inside all of us. One may wonder, however, what society can do in order to help prevent catastrophe. After all, if good and evil are truly inherent—what can be done to fix the problem? Golding shows us the answer to this problem through certain events in his book. One of the most obvious examples of this is in the chapter “Huts on the Beach.
” This chapter describes the process which the boys go through to build their shelters on the beach. When they begin the first hut, all of the boys are working together. The final result it strong and of high quality. However, as work continues on the second and third huts, the boys begin to leave for an assortment of reasons—and discontinue their work on the huts. The second hut, with only a few boys working on it, does not end up as strong as the first one. Predictably, the third hut, with even less boys working on it, is of the worst quality out of the three huts.
The building of the huts shows that when the boys work together, the end product is much higher quality than when only a few boys are working to create the shelter. Symbolically, Golding is trying to tell society that if we work together, we can ultimately saves society from ourselves, and the inherent evil in all of us. Another example of this message is in an example of what will happen if society instead, continues on the path it is currently on, and people continue to right against each other rather than working together. Toward the end of the story, Jack creates his own group on the island.
This divides the island in two—Jacks’ group on Castle rock, and Ralph’s group which remains on the beach. At the time of this separation, the already lacking democracy on the island weakens drastically, and everything falls apart. Simon is killed, Piggy’s glasses are stolen, SamnEric are tortured and manipulated, Piggy is murdered, and Ralph’s life almost comes to a dramatic end. These events represent the obvious truth that when the people fight against each other, the result is extremely counter-productive, and will eventually corrupt society.
Inherent good and evil, and the qualification of each, is a topic that has been debated for centuries, and is sure to be debated in the future. We may never all agree on one true definition for good and evil. We may never even agree on whether good and evil both truly exist. However, the important thing is to realize that what Golding was trying to warn us against is a real problem. Society is heading in a negative direction, and if we don’t do something soon, it may be too late to turn back.
The Lord of the Flies by William Golding is tale of a group of young boys who become stranded on a deserted island after their plane crashes. Intertwined in this classic novel are many themes, most that relate to the inherent evil that exists in all human beings and the malicious nature of mankind. In The Lord of the Flies, Golding shows the boys’ gradual transformation from being civilized, well-mannered people to savage, ritualistic beasts. From the time that the boys land on the island, both a power struggle and the first signs of the boys’ evil, Piggy’s mockery, occur.
After blowing the conch and summoning all the boys to come for an assembly, an election is held. “‘I ought to be chief’ , said Jack with simple arrogance, ‘because I’m chapter chorister and head boy'”(page 22). This represents the beginning of civilization in all of the kids (which is changed later. ) After Ralph is Chief, Jack envies his position and constantly struggles for power with Ralph throughout the rest of the novel, convincing the rest of the boys to join his tribe rather than to stay with Ralph.
Also, soon after the boys arrive at the island, Piggy, a weak character, is mocked by the other boys. After trying to recount all of the liluns’ names, Piggy is told to “Shut up, Fatty,” by Jack. Ralph remarks by saying, “He’s not Fatty. His real name’s Piggy. ” All of the boys on the island, except for Piggy, laugh and make themselves more comfortable at Piggy’s expense. “A storm of laughter arose and even the tiniest child joined in. For a moment the boys were a closed circuit of sympathy with Piggy outside”(page 21). That quote shows that they are starting to become uncivilized.
The boys become more comfortable with one another after Piggy’s mockery and create a bond, leaving Piggy on the outside. Along with inherent evil, man is also capable of being good and kind. While Jack and Ralph are exploring the island, they encounter a piglet which Jack supposedly attempts to kill. After gaining the courage to kill the baby pig, Jack talks about it by saying “I was just waiting for a moment to decide where to stab him (page 31). ” This event clearly illustrates the good in Jack, since he is hesitant to kill something.
Jack almost couldn’t kill the pig, because he felt bad doing it.. Jack’s mercy is short-lived, however, and when they encounter another pig, Jack and his hunters are relentless. They return to beach ritualistically chanting “Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Spill her blood,” where they excitedly explain the details of the hunt. “I cut the pig’s throat,’ said Jack, proudly, and yet twitched as he said it (page 69). Jack is internally struggling between his civilized teachings and savage instincts in this example, in which he both proudly exclaims his murder and twitches while doing so.
Another example of the boys’ inherent evil is the brutal murder of the sow. Without any regard for the sow’s newborns, Jack commands his tribe to attack it. The boys “hurled themselves at her. This dreadful eruption from an unknown world made her frantic; she squealed and bucked and the air was full of sweat and noise and blood and terror” (page 135). The weird behavior of the boys in this example show that evil is starting to drive into them. After the death of the sow, the boys play with its blood and ritualistically celebrate their kill. The boys show no mercy for the sow and behave like savages.
The murder of the sow allows the boys to revert back to their evilness and lose all traces of guilt and conscience. Ralph shows fatigue, a good causer of anger and dislike. He momentarily forgets the reasons why the signal fire is so important. “He tried to remember. ‘Smoke, he said, we want smoke. Course we have. The smoke’s a signal and we can’t be rescued if we don’t have smoke. I knew that! ‘ shouted Ralph” (page 172). Ralph begins to lose his initial cheerfulness and enthusiasm and replaces it with disinterest and hate. Piggy and Ralph separate themselves from Jack and his tribe.
However, when Jack and his tribe kill a pig and invite Ralph and Piggy to join their feast, the two accept and cannot resist the temptation of the meat. Later on in the celebration, Jack and his tribe perform a ritualistic dance, in which Piggy and Ralph later join. “Piggy and Ralph, under the threat of the sky, found themselves eager to take a place in this demented but partly secure society” (page 152). They realize that the dance fueled the boys to murder Simon, and later deny their participation in it. “We left early, said Piggy quickly, because we were tired” (page 158).
Ralph and Piggy recognize the evil in the dance, and know that if the others found out about their participation in it, then the boys would claim that Piggy and Ralph would be going against their own beliefs. Also, by not admitting their partaking in the dance, Piggy and Ralph are denying their involvement in Simon’s murder and their inherent evil. They do not believe that evil exists within them and believe that it will “disappear” if they do not believe in it. Simon and Ralph represent goodness and reason, and both encounter the Lord of the Flies.
The Lord of the Flies is the head of a pig which is sacrificially given to the beast in order to preserve the boys’ safety. Simon is the first to talk with the Lord of the Flies ,and when he does, he learns that the beast (evil) is not in an animal out in the woods, but in the boys themselves. “Fancy you thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill. You knew didn’t you? I’m part of you,” (page 143) says the Lord of the Flies to Simon. The Lord of the Flies even says that the Beast is part of Simon, the symbol of goodness, suggesting that all human beings are born with both some evil and goodness.
Later on while Ralph is fleeing from Jack and his tribe, he stumbles upon the Lord of the Flies. “Little prickles of sensation ran up and down his back. The teeth grinned, the empty sockets seemed to hold his gaze masterfully and without effort” (page 185). Soon after, Ralph hits the pig’s head and smashes it into pieces. By destroying the Lord of the Flies, Ralph denies his internal evil and primitive instincts. The difference between Ralph’s and Simon’s encounter with the Lord of the Flies is that Simon accepts The Lord of the Flies and listens intently to what it is saying to him.
However, Ralph destroys it and then walks away from it. Both Ralph’s and Simon’s experience with the Lord of the Flies states that all men are capable of evil, and that evil is in all humans. “The Lord of the Flies” illustrates the capabilities of evil in all things. All of the boys on the island are tempted by evil, but not all of them give in to the craving. However, along with the evil that lies within all people, there is also a little bit of goodness, suggesting that all people have the free will to choose their destiny. The book clearly shows how people can turn into savage beasts.