To What Extent Is Fear Responsible for the Deterioration of the Boys in Lord of the Flies?

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Fear can act as an extremely powerful motive in the subconscious mind. We tend to interpret having fear as being scared of something like the dark, for example. But this is not its only effect. Fear can act as a subconscious control over the mind. It can influence your actions and drive you to do things against people whom were once your friends. This can cost dearly in both your happiness and your reputation. When the boys first arrived at the island they were all nice British school boys who followed the rules, but then quickly deteriorated into malicious killing savages. The physical and psychological deterioration of the boys in The Lord of the Flies is largely due to how the emotional experience of fear is powerful enough to spark off several other emotions like a trail of dominoes. ‘Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering’. This quote is a famous line spoken by Master Yoda in Star Wars whilst giving wise advice to Luke Skywalker. This advice can also be looked at in The Lord of the Flies. It gives a fantastic portrayal of how one feeling or emotion can trigger off several others each worse than that of the preceding one. Chain reactions of that sort can completely deteriorate a person. Fear is an overwhelming emotion which is physically capable of destroying a person and largely responsible for the deterioration of the boys in The Lord of the Flies. In one sense, fear is completely in the mind. It is not a material item but a thought or feeling that our mind creates when we are scared of something or someone, its way of portraying something. A quote to show this would be ‘fear can’t hurt you more than a dream’. These are wise words spoken by Piggy fairly early on in the novel before the deterioration has even begun. Unfortunately, his colleagues fail to take him up on this wise piece of advice. This quote may be true at the time of it being spoken but it is too little too late later on in the novel. The boys are fearful of ‘the Beastie’, the animal that one of the younger boys allegedly saw whilst out walking. ‘“We may stay here till we die.” With that word the heat began to increase till it became a threatening weight and the lagoon attacked them with blinding effulgence.’ The first part of this quote (the speech) can translate into 2 meanings. The first is that the boys are contemplating how long it will take to be rescued. The term ‘die’ could mean die of starvation or old age. However, the quote could also be interpreted that the boys are fearful of the Beast and that it will come out and attack and kill them. This sense of fear is largely because of their little knowledge of the Beast. They don’t know what it looks like, what it sounds like or where it lives. Uncertainty is another extremely prolific cause of fear and so must have been somewhat responsible for the boys’ deterioration. In addition, Golding utilizes pathetic fallacy to really capture the feel of the fear experienced. There are some other fine examples of fear within the novel linking to the deterioration of the boys and which represent the substantial reach of it. An example of this would be ‘“the Beastie came in the dark.”’ One of the boys is telling Ralph what one of the little boys saw in the woods. This is actually the first the reader hears of the alleged Beast. The fact that it is described as coming in the dark invokes a sense of uncertainty which also leads to fear. Not knowing something is even more of a reason to be scared of it. The little boys naturally think the Beastie comes in the dark; fear of the unknown creature is that much greater when they can’t see it. Interestingly, this is the whole point of the Beast; the boys can’t metaphorically see it for what it really is. But, as the reader can interpret, the Beast doesn’t actually exist. It’s what the boys have become out of their fear. The only thing that the boys fear is themselves. Golding is believed to have written the novel shortly after World War...
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