Last Updated 06 Jan 2022

Lord of the Flies and Human Nature

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Good and evil. These are two words that everybody has heard. One question that can arise from these two words is whether humans are essentially good or evil. The question of human nature has been a topic that even the greatest philosophers have struggled with. Even the best people still have evil thoughts which demonstrate that evil exists in all of us, however much that the trait is suppressed. Evil is not a bold line straight down the middle of what is right and this is why it is my opinion that human nature is essentially evil.

The book Lord of The Flies by William Golding presents the question of human nature and allows the reader to draw their own opinions on what it truly is. The story presents the situation of various young boys stranded on an island and the slow breakdown of society that occurs afterwards. There are multiple quotes in this book that can be used to argue that human nature is essentially evil. A particular example is “Fancy thinking the beast was something you could hunt and kill! You knew didn’t you? I’m part of you? ”(Golding 143).

The Lord of the Flies said this to Simon while he was hallucinating. In the book, The Lord of The Flies represents the devil and the fear and evil within each of the boys. Further analyzing this quote, it boils down to basically mean that everybody has evil within them. Simon was the only boy on the island who figured out that the beast was not an external threat, it was inside of them. When he tries to inform the other boys of his findings he is killed by them because they were caught in the frenzy and passion of the hunt.

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This allowed the beast take them over and rule their actions and caused them to act with brutality. As the story progressed, it demonstrated how the boys went from calm and civilized to savages that were completely taken over by the beast of evil. This action further shows that evil resides in all of us and progressively takes us over as we commit savage acts for the acts that we commit are the ones that will ultimately dictate our nature. After succumbing to their inner beast it seems that the thirst for blood was not subdued in the boys.

They killed Piggy shortly after Simon’s tragic demise and instead of expressing any type of remorse Jack says to Ralph “See? See? That’s what you’ll get! I meant that! There isn’t a tribe for you anymore! ”(Golding 181). He reveled in seeing Ralph’s tribe break down and with that the death of all order within the boys. Not even conform to being leader now, he and his tribe hunted Ralph down and lit the island on fire to try to draw Ralph out of his hiding place to kill him.

This fire, the fire of savagery and evil, had an undesired consequence and got them rescued by order and society in the end. At the end of the book Ralph “wept for the end of innocence and the darkness of man’s heart” (Golding 202). This particular excerpt exhibits that at the end of his trial by fire (literally) Ralph had realized that deep inside, the nature of man is evil. Without any rules in place, the boys reverted to man’s original state of chaos and evil and destroyed the innocence that they had from being children.

It was at the end that Ralph could see that humanity is an evil and twisted thing once he had experienced the death of his most loyal friend and seen and participated in Simons killing. The only two boys who realized that the beast was in them all were ultimately killed by the evil evident in human nature. How can young children, who are notably more innocent and less corrupted than adults, revert to such acts of evil? The only logical answer that one may be able to find is that everyone has an inherent sense of good and evil.

This sense of evil seems to be the one that reigns supreme in mankind and its nature. There are many examples in history one can use to argue that human nature is essentially evil. A striking example is the reign of Mao Zedong in China that started in 1949. He was the founder of the People’s Republic of China and was a communist revolutionary. Once he had reunited China through his Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries, he enacted a widespread land reform. Zedong used terror and violence to overthrow the owners of large pieces of land and then divided it into people’s communes.

The true evils of his reign come to play during his Cultural Revolution. Zedong’s regime persecuted millions of people and tortured them, publicly humiliated them, and even forcibly relocated youth to the countryside. Another campaign that killed millions was the Great Leap Forward. The Great Leap Forward led to a famine that killed around 18 to 42 million Chinese citizens. Instead of focusing on feeding his people, Zedong was more worried on maintaining face and continued exporting grain and refused outside help.

Zedong could have avoided this huge genocide but he was more preoccupied with paying back his debts to the USSR. His desire for power and to one day lead a country that surpassed the United States lead him to neglect the most important element, his people, which is an evil in of itself. Evil can come in many forms, be it how you treat someone to just human nature in general. In Lord Of the Flies, William Golding coveys the message that there is evil inside every person, no matter how good they may seem.

Examples in history can also prove that human nature can be a terrible thing and no matter what, there are always going to be bad people who can embody the sense that human nature is evil. One cannot judge and say that human nature is just a good thing or just a bad thing either. There are shades of grey and the in-betweens that one has to account for. In its entirety however, human nature is good with most people just choosing to give in to the evil, leading one to the conclusion that human nature is essentially evil.

Lord of the Flies and Human Nature essay

Related Questions

on Lord of the Flies and Human Nature

How is human nature presented in Lord of the flies?

Lord of the Flies is a novel written by William Golding, it was published in 1954. It is an allegorical novel in which Golding uses many powerful symbols to present his ideology about human nature. In this novel human nature is seen as a theme which runs through the entire novel.

What are the symbols in Lord of the flies?

Symbols and Human Nature in the Lord of the Flies “Lord of the Flies” contains a numerous amount of symbols as it is an allegory representing characteristics of human nature. There are four symbols that exemplify human nature perfectly and those are Piggy’s glasses, the conch shell, the beast, and the signal fire.

What is the message of Lord of the flies?

Lord of the Flies takes the opposite view: that evil comes from within. Golding's message is that human nature has a wicked side and that without punishments to keep it in check society would degenerate into a barbaric anarchy.

How is the loss of innocence portrayed in Lord of the flies?

Instead, he portrays this loss of innocence as the natural progression when humans are left to their own devices without the civilizing force of society. In this lesson, we explored ideas around the true nature of human behavior as they are portrayed in the classic novel, Lord of the Flies by William Golding.

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