Are People Inherently Good or Bad

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Lord of the Flies ​All throughout history, there have been numerous theories of why people behave the way they do. Even to this day, any answer is undoubtfully questionable. Are humans born with the screaming urge to start trouble, do the kids on the island immediately have bones to pick? Or does it rely on the situation they’re put through and how it affects them? William Golding leans toward the situational theory, rather than the nature theory. He reveals it through evidence within the book.

​Before the plane crash, the boys on the island had families to provide them with love and affection, steamily hot yet mouthwatering food three times a day, clean clothes to dress in, and a snug household to call home. When the plane suddenly plunged into the island, all was lost. Including the boys Hierarchy of needs. Abraham Maslow, a psychologist from the 1900’s created the Hierarchy of Needs. It declares that people’s behavior relies on which need is being fulfilled.

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There are physiological, safety, social, esteem, and self-actualization needs that ordinary people need in order to thrive in life. Jack can’t seem to escape the bottom of needs. As the tribe is focusing on leaving the island, Jack argued with “we need meat” (Golding 51). Ralph fought back stubbornly that the tribe can achieve food later, that their main concern was protection and security from the unpredictable island that lies around them. Giving away that Ralph is trapped in the safety need. While all of this is occurring, Piggy is getting knocked down emotionally by everyone.

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All the name calling, fat shaming, haunts Piggy in the self-esteem need. Simon however, puts all aside to assist the other, is independent, and loos at the positive things occurring in life, “Holding his breath, he cocked a critical ear at the sound of the island.

Evening was advancing toward the island; the sound of the bright fantastic birds” (Golding 58). ​Situations are to be bred into good and evil, shown from the Zimbardo Experiment. In the Experiment, random college kids were pulled out of their daily lives and challenged to play roles of guards and prisoners. Just after six days, the guards were mercilessly verbally and physically abusive to the prisoners. It wasn’t just a coincidence that they picked the “bad apples” out of society, something had to of drove them to it. for starters, their identity was lost. Guards dressed in bulky uniforms, hats, and sunglasses, are camouflaged in the act. Just like Lord of the Flies, boys being in disguise with filth from the island. The longer they’re there, the longer their greasy hair grows, and the more sun kissed their skin becomes.

They all are blending together, “(Jack) For hunting. Like in the war. You know— dazzle paint. Like things trying to look like something else—”. (Golding 63). Another example, Sam and Eric are two different people, but towards the middle of the book, the tribe of boys combine their name into one, treating them as if they are one identity, “Sam took up the story. By custom now one conch did for both twins for their substantial unity was recognized” (Golding 107). There is no individuality reflection occurring in the group. In other words, they’re avoiding personal liability. No identity creates savages. ​From the very beginning of the book, the children were convinced there was a “beast” or “monster” watching their every move. Startled at night, all the nightmares the kids share, the horrifying sound of sticks crackling, drove the frighten boys to follow their fist instincts.

To kill. But later in the book, some discover that what they appear to be scared of shouldn’t be what lies around them, rather themselves. Jack from the start, was a discourteous child who fed on the insecurities of others. Replying to Piggy’s harmless words with “You’re talking too much. Shut up, Fatty” (Golding 21). Throughout the book, Jack showed tremendous signs of putting anger and hunger urges before anything else. Showing stages of the “id” character in Freuds article. Meanwhile, superego and ego are presenting itself through Simon, Piggy, and Ralph. Simon and Piggy, the mature hidden leaders in the population, took the ‘little uns’ into their wing.

They clearly know right from wrong, but often times lose the fight to Jack (id). Ralph, on the other hand, tends to be the one making decisions, “Well, we won’t be painted, said Ralph, because we aren’t savages” (Golding 172). Ralph’s the perfect balance between both id and superego, the “common sense”. Freud’s theory isn’t wrong, but what happens to the people who display more id than superego, does that automatically make them a damaged person? ​Instead of focusing on who’s responsible, maybe society should focus on what’s responsible. The saying, “No baby is born racist” represents that no baby enters this world and already has opinions developed. The baby is thrown into this world without knowledge of whom, where, and why they’re here. We all have id, ego, and super ego in us. But the way we are nurtured and raised is how we manage to control it.

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Are People Inherently Good or Bad. (2022, Jan 28). Retrieved from

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