The “Noble” Savage
Over the years, people have formed many different opinions over Rousseau`s noble savage theory. The main controversy sprouts from Rousseau`s statement that the natural human heart is good until civilization corrupts it. Golding's exploration of the Noble savage theory has instigated theological and philosophical questions on the origin of human wickedness, as well as arguments comparing solitary and civilized human nature. Rousseau's declaration that humans are naturally good, but become evil by the surrounding civilization, sparked the interest of many current and later philosophers. Certain men, such as Thomas Hobbes, believed that the primitive human is wicked. Richard Beck argued, “Hobbes felt that the "natural" state of man was akin to being beast-like. Thus, it is civilization that steps in and rescues humanity from our primal depravity.” Other philosophers had opinions similar to Rousseau. Shaftesbury, for example, believed in the “simplicity of manners and innocence of behaviour which has been often known among mere savages, ere they were corrupted by our commerce and by sad example.” (Mortensen, Pg. 111).In other words, he believed man is naturally innocent of brutality, and would act benevolent towards other human beings in a perfect world. William Golding demonstrates his disagreement with Rousseau in his book Lord of the Flies, and he uses the behaviour of the novel's characters to prove his point. In the story, British boys are stranded on a completely uncivilized island with no parental authority. If humans were noble savages, as Rousseau argued, the children would not have become heinous and murderous. However, this was not the case, and with the boys' descent into savagery came their plummet into barbarity. This is evident in chapter 11 where it reads, "They understood only too well the liberation into savagery that the concealing paint brought." The paint covered up their former life and released them into a world unbound by...
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