William Golding stated in a radio broadcast that “the boys are suffering from the terrible disease of being human”. Explain how this pessimistic assessment of human nature is constructed in “Lord of the Flies”. What indicators are there of “a light at the end of the tunnel”, that is, of any signs of hope for the future of humanity?
The novel ‘Lord of the flies’ is a text by William Golding which deals heavily with underlying themes of an evil that lives in the heart of all of mankind. The novel does indeed portray the idea of the boys suffering from ‘the terrible disease of being human’, and this is suggested at various instances throughout the text. There are also references to a light at the end of the tunnel through the appearance of the character Simon. Throughout the novel, there is a constant contrast of ‘good versus evil’ on a primitive political level between Jack and Ralph, while toying with the themes of the island boys becoming savages due to fear, and evil that lurks within humanity. Although there are hints at goodness within mankind, this is also silenced during the second third of the novel due to the arising savagery of the boys. Examples of such behaviour (both good and bad) include the political struggle for power between Jack and Ralph; the face paint of the savages as a representation of evil; the presence of the Conch as a representation of civil authority; the appearance of the character Simon and his messiah-like presence amongst the boys; and the collapse of all society leaving Ralph as the final civil member.
During the novel, there is a maintained contrast between the civil, political governing of Ralph, against the savage, tribal ways of Jack’s rule. This eternal dance of opposites on the island serves to show that the evil within all of mankind can stir and grow, and savagery can overcome civilisation in the right circumstances. Even at one point, Ralph almost descends into savagery as he felt "the desire to squeeze and hurt was...
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