Oscar Wilde once said, “We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell”. This statement could not be more fitting to any other book then Lord of the Flies. In this novel by William Golding, the raw nature of human beings is exposed through the portrayal of the circumstances of young boys who crash land on a deserted island on their way to escape a war which ravages their homeland. As more time passes on the island without the presence of society, their moral compass slowly disintegrates as they fall deeper into savagery and allow the darkness presiding within them to swallow them whole. Golding portrays how the evil nature of humans prevails without civilization through his characters and biblical illusions.
Throughout the entire story, Ralph and Jack are prevalent characters that represent the different individuals in society. When the boys are hunting for the beast, a boar charges Ralph as he is transfixed in a daydream, but “[he] found that he was able to measure the distance coldly and take aim. With the boar only five yards away, he flung the foolish wooden stick he carried, [and] saw it hit the great snout... Ralph was full of fright and apprehension and pride”(113). Ralph is supposed to symbolize rational thinking, democracy, and just leadership for he is the chief of the boys and is the only one set on being rescued, and in fact ridiculed the boys for hunting. In this situation however, Ralph is left with no time to think; he has to make a split second decision as the boar is charging him and instead of dodging out of the way, his first instinct is to kill. Golding uses this event to show that humans are naturally evil and that in a situation in which they are left to react based on instinct, they will choose to hunt and kill like animals. Also, Golding uses his character Jack to represent chaos and savagery, clearly shown when Jack paints his face so that he can disguise himself while hunting pigs, creating “a mask that drew their eyes and appalled them... the mask was a thing of its own, behind which Jack hid, liberated from shame and self-consciousness”(64). At the beginning of the story, Jack is the most strict, orderly boy, but he quickly and dramatically slips into insanity as he is swept up into the grandeur of the island and the freedom it gives him from authority; becoming like an animal whose only wish is to survive, kill and dominate. his mask symbolizes the fact that Jack no longer feels human, he is now only a savage mask. With the mask his confidence bolsters because now he can do things that normally humans wouldn’t or shouldn’t do because he is not a human, he is a hunter behind a mask. The only thing more powerful then hope is fear, and Jack inflicts fear upon the boys with his newfound face, manipulating them to do his bidding which shows when given the opportunity, humans will attempt to dominate. Golding makes a point about humans being evil through Jack and Ralph by showing that when left without society, humans become naturally savage creatures like animals.
As time passes, the boys begin to lose their grasp on right and wrong. In the beginning of their stay on the island, Roger throws rocks at Henry but “there was a space around [him]...into which he dared not throw”(62) because “invisible, yet strong...was the protection of parents and school and policeman and the law. Roger’s arm was conditioned by a civilization that knew nothing of him and was in ruins”(62). This shows how Roger is a psychopath, but society has stopped him from pursuing his natural compulsions. The presence of society still lingers, but with the passing of time and without the constant reminder of what is good and what is wrong, Roger will eventually realize his full potential and ability to kill. It is obviously proven that Roger will revert to his natural state without society when he murders Piggy later on in the novel.
Even though the majority of the story is full of evil, Simon is a shining light amongst the darkness of the boys. Simon is a symbol of Jesus; his name is derived from one of the apostles, he cares and feeds the weak and defenseless and he is the only on who know the true nature of the beast. Like Jesus, Simon is one of the only ones who can communicate to the Lord of the Flies, the incarnate of the devil himself, and he is the only one who know that the beast is not actually a monster that lives on the mountain(which in actuality was a parachuter who had attempted to rescue the boys), but rather the fear which lived inside of all of them. Throughout the story, the boys do not listen to Simon and even mock him, symbolizing how humans would rather follow fear and their own selfish pursuits then listen to morality and purity. Simon’s journey through the forest to tell them boys is reminiscent to Jesus’ Twelve Stations of the cross. He was to be a messenger to the boys, as Jesus was, and was the only one that could rid them of their fear and help them, but instead of listening to him, the boys killed him. The fact that Golding portrays young boys capable of such sin harshly demonstrates the evil nature of humanity. Many say that we are not born evil, we are born as pure and innocent children, but this novel reveals that boys are just as capable and eager to kill, murder and destroy as men are.