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Essay: Lord of the Flies: does William Golding think human beings are naturally evil?

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  • Published: 17 June 2021*
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  • Tags: Lord of the Flies essays

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It is 1945, bombs are dropping, people are dying, a Nazi leader named Hitler has already begun to exterminate an ethnic group of people and has used hundreds of people to help in that endeavor. Did Hitler make these people evil or did he just bring out what was already in them? The idea of evil being inherent in all men is what William Golding is exploring in his most popular novel, Lord of the Flies. The Lord of the Flies is an allegory to the actual war and the people of society. Lord of the Flies is about adolescent boys who crash onto an island and try to survive, but as the days pass by they lose their touch with society more and become their true selves, evil. Golding argues that humans are inherently evil as the young boys immediately lose all sense of civility and remorse by becoming the beasts within them.
William Golding thinks human beings are naturally evil because of the boys willingness to dissolve their society and order after they crash on the island. On the island the boys kill the most innocent part of themselves and dissolve their society. Simon was the innocent boy in the group and when they kill him it symbolizes the loss of society and order. The fire was another symbolism for destruction, unpredictability, and the boys’ true evil nature. The hunters do not watch over the fire, and this leads to it spreading through the whole forest. During all this chaos, a boy disappears and Golding writes, “The boys looked at each other fearfully, unbelieving … Beneath them, on the unfriendly side of the mountain the drum-roll continued.”(58). This shows that the boys act without thinking. Golding’s purpose is to show that human nature is to destroy without thinking, and therefore causing a disaster such as the disappearance of the boy, and the after effects of World War II. By losing all their civility in them, the boys are closer to dissolving the lessons taught by society and bringing out the evil in them.
Golding thinks humans are naturally evil because the boys lose their remorse which leads them to become more evil. They continue to hunt and kill as they had before, without a conscience. Simon discovers the fact that the beast is actually a dead parachute man, and as he runs to tell the group the boys are playing a game and chanting and pretending to kill a pig. Simon gets in the middle of this and he is killed in the process. After Simon’s death, Piggy denies the fact of killing Simon, and Golding writes, “‘You were outside. Outside the circle. You never really came in. Didn’t you see what we — what they did?’”(220) This explains that Simon’s death is just another body being removed from the world, and that the boys did not take the blame or punish themselves for it. Jack continues to hunt pigs and he does not feel remorse about it. Golding’s purpose is to show that Simon, the only innocence on the island, is now dead, and the boys have lost all connection to society and are savages. It also shows how the boys do not have a conscience, and they continue on without regret.
William Golding thinks humans are naturally evil because the boys turn into the beast within themselves by using a mask to hide what society has taught them. The Lord of the Flies was created when Jack cut off a pig’s head and placed it on a stick. This shows that the evil was not created from the island, but from the boys themselves. The boys paint their faces before hunting, and the painting of the faces is a mask to hide the boys fear and to replace it with savagery when hunting. The mask is a sign of savagery, but it is the boys who decide to put the mask on and decide to enhance the evil already within them. It is not only the mask that makes them savage, but their choice. When the hunters attempt to hunt for the pig for a second time, after the failure of Jack to kill it the first time, for the evil in him wasn’t as strong, they decide to paint their faces. To show this, Golding states, “The face of red and white and black swung through the air and jigged toward Bill… ‘Come on! I’ll creep up and stab—”The mask compelled them.”(84). The mask did not make them evil, it only enhanced the evil within them and hid the cover that society had made. The hunters are able to forget what society taught them,and they are able to bring out the inner evil inside of them because of the mask. The mask helps them lose all sense of civility and remorse they learned in society and brought them closer to the beast within them. By hiding the society within them, Golding shows that even people during time of war lose their civility and become beasts themselves.
Having fought and lived through World War II, it is safe to assume that Golding believes that humans are inherently evil. By writing that the boys can lose their civility and remorse in a short amount of time, he shows us that all humans have evil within them. The more time the boys are away from society, the closer they are to losing the propriety and anguish to become the beast inside of them. The World War II occurred about seventy years ago, but it still affects us today, including the people who hadn’t lived during that time. The area around Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where the bombs were dropped, still have radiation although it is not as harmful as before. People who had lived through it have had terrifying experiences from it and are afraid to come home. There are even people who fear another world war. Golding believes that humans are inherently evil, but war is a disaster that no one wants and can be avoided. Therefore, we must avoid it to save lives and keep our civility, unlike how Golding portrays the boys to be, because we can become who we believe we are.

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