Lord of the Flies

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In Lord of the Flies, Golding discusses the complex relationships between society, morality and human nature. He examines two central concepts in Lord of the Flies: the nature of evil and civilisation vs. savagery, and both are intrinsically linked with each other. Within the topic of the nature of evil, Golding develops various ideas, the most important of which is that human nature is innately evil. This idea is closely related to the conflict of civilisation vs. savagery (or good vs. evil). Golding implies that the condition of society (i.e. the balance between civilisation and savagery) is very dependent on how much moral integrity its inhabitants have (i.e. the capacity of its inhabitants to embrace their natural instincts of evil). In Lord of the Flies, Golding examines and explains these two intertwined concepts through the use of character, setting, and various language techniques such as allegory, symbolism and imagery. Golding explores the concept of the human nature being innately evil through symbolism, and Biblical allegory and allusion. The beast is a powerful symbol of the natural evil within the human spirit. The true meaning of the “beastie” is explained during Simon’s hallucination: ‘“Fancy thinking the beast was something you could kill!” said the head. ... “You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you? Close, close, close! I’m the reason why it’s no go? Why things are the way they are?”’ This quote is from the Lord of the Flies, and it finally reveals who the beast really is. It is not an evilly-intended external force; it is the primal savagery within the boys themselves. Lord of the Flies is also a Biblical allegory, with many scenes in the novel draw parallels with scenes from the Bible, and this is definitely one of them. In the context of the Bible, therefore, Simon, one of the only characters who seem to possess an innate natural goodness rather than evil, is very similar to Jesus, and the Lord of the Flies recalls the Devil. In fact, the “Lord of the Flies” is actually a literal translation of Beelzebub, an alternative name to Satan. The Bible is again alluded to, when Jack recalls killing his first pig: “His mind was crowded with memories; memories of the knowledge that had come to them when they closed in on the struggling pig, knowledge that they had outwitted a living thing, imposed their will upon it, taken away its life like a long satisfying drink.” This is a reference to the Christian concept of Original Sin: the words “knowledge that had come to them” indicates that their ancestors had done this before, that killing and savagery is now embedded in the human psyche. The last simile also emphasises the joy and triumph that Jack feels from killing, implying that not only is human nature innately evil, but that we also get satisfaction and pleasure from being savage. Through these examples, we can see that Golding develops the theme of the innate evil of human nature through powerful symbolism of the beast and the sow’s head, Biblical allegory and allusion, and imagery. Another central concern is the conflict between civilisation and savagery. Lord of the Flies is an allegorical novel on many levels, and Golding has developed this abstract theme within the concrete image of the island, which is a microcosm of the real world. The two main characters in the novel, Ralph and Jack, personify the qualities of civilisation and savagery respectively. The differing ideologies are portrayed through the boys’ differing attitudes to power, rules and law and order. The constant angry dialogue between the two gives the reader an insight as to their different viewpoints: ‘“Because rules are the only thing we got!” But Jack was shouting against him. “Bollocks to the rules! We’re strong—we hunt!”’ The exclamation marks and short, emphatic statements highlight their differing attitudes towards law and order. While Ralph uses his authority to establish proper rules, protect the good of the group and enforce the moral...
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