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The End of Innocence and the Darkness of Man’s Heart Essay

In “Lord of the Flies” the author, William Golding, proves his theory on the origin of evil in many ways, a main one being the changes in the character Jack. William Golding’s theory states that civilization prevents corruption. Human nature is evil but with the conformity of moral values, supervision, and consequences good behavior can be developed. In his book England is involved in a nuclear war and must evacuate the people. A group of private school boys who are presumably evacuees are dropped from a plane just before it crashes onto an uninhibited tropical island.

The boys are called together by Ralph, who with Piggy had found a conch shell. As the other boys gather onto the platform another party of the boys, the choir, marches up. They are described as “something dark” or a “creature”, one of the first signs of evil. All of the boys decide to elect a leader and the candidates turn out to be Ralph and Jack, head of the choir. When the boys choose Ralph, Jack becomes enraged and Ralph offers that the choir be the hunters. Jack is then seen as the head hunter and a primary destructive force.

Ralph, Jack, and another boy, Simon, head out to survey the land and assure that it is indeed an island. The boys have their first confrontation with a pig. Jack is unable to plunge his knife into living flesh and bear the sight of flowing blood because of the “taboo of the old life”. He is ashamed and vows next time he will kill it as he drives his knife into a tree trunk. This is one of the first major signs of trouble…of the evil ahead.

Jack is later described as an animal, symbolizing the loss of civilization. His transition into evil begins as the influence of his former life and the conditioning wears off. The hunters go out to hunt again and proudly return with meat. Jack remarks with pride about how they cut the pig’s throat though he twitches as he speaks of this achievement. Jack has not yet reached the point of savage abandonment. “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.” Another sign of the conditioning wearing off is when Jack hits another boy, Piggy, breaking his specs, because Piggy stood up for himself and his beliefs.

On another hunt, Ralph joins the hunters. This hunt is unsuccessful because the boar gets away but Ralph is proud that he hit the pig in the snout with a spear. After this failure the boys start a reenactment with Robert, a smaller boy, acting as the pig. They begin the chant “Kill the pig! Cut his throat! Kill the pig! Bash him in!” and an overwhelming dark desire possesses the boys. This is the final stage before Jack’s transition into complete evil.

When Jack is angered that the boys do not want him as leader he travels to the other part of the beach and forms his own tribe. He informs the tribe that they are going to forget about a so-called beast and hunt. This hunt is an electrifying success. The boys hunted a helpless sow and as “the afternoon wore on, hazy and dreadful with damp heat; the sow staggered her way ahead of them, bleeding and mad, and the hunters followed, wedded to her in lust, excited by the long chase and the dropped blood.” When they kill the pig there is no twitch of conscience as Jack has fully transitioned into an evil boy.

While the boys are feasting on this pig and celebrating their victory Simon is searching for the so-called beast. He runs into the pig’s head on a stick, an offering for the beast. The head transforms into the Lord of the Flies (literal translation for Beelzebub, the chief of the devils) and Simon has an imaginary conversation with it. The Lord of the Flies explains that it is part of Simon, part of the boys, part of all men. He is the reason “things are what they are”. He is the demonic essence that is taking over Jack and the other boys in their evilness. Simon discovers that the beast is harmless and he goes running to the boys to share the good news. The boys are starting their dance when Simon runs into the middle of the circle and is killed. Simon becomes the suffering victim of the boys and of Jack’s madness.

The final and climactic abhorrence is the hunt for Ralph. Jack does not like Ralph because Ralph does not like Jack so Jack convinces the other boys that Ralph is the “beast” in disguise. Jack had previously explained to the boys that Simon was not really Simon, but the beast in disguise and he had not really been killed. At this point Jack is completely evil, as there is no civilization.

In “Lord of the Flies” Jack’s changes into evil prove Golding’s theory about the origin of evil. As civilization is destroyed, Jack becomes more and more evil. At the beginning of the book one can see such signs of trouble as his reaction the failure to kill the pig. Into the middle the conditioning wearing off is rather apparent, as he becomes prone to killing. Finally, by the end Jack is completely evil. It is the end of innocence and the darkness of man’s heart.

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