Exploring Inherent Good and Evil: Lessons from The Lord of the Flies

Categories: Allegory


From the epic battles in Star Wars to the moral dilemmas faced by James Bond and the iconic struggle of Superman against evil, stories often encapsulate the perpetual conflict between good and evil. The definition of good and evil is highly subjective, sparking debates that may endure for years without resolution. Nevertheless, a widely acknowledged concept is that every individual possesses inherent dualities—an innate capacity for both good and evil. This intrinsic duality is the cautionary theme that William Golding endeavors to convey in his classic novel, The Lord of the Flies.

The Unveiling of Inherent Good and Evil

It becomes evident upon reading Golding's masterpiece that he aims to magnify the inherent good and evil within the boys stranded on the island. Initially, these boys are well-bred, coming from British prep schools, raised in a dignified and sophisticated society. Their upbringing reflects order and civility. However, the transformative effect of the island environment quickly diminishes their intelligence and sophistication, plunging them into a state of wild abandon, nearly devoid of any remnants of civilization.

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The boys initially arrive on the island under the influence of their inherent goodness, but the prolonged isolation gradually allows the innate evil to gain ascendancy. Golding employs different characters to represent these inherent qualities. Simon emerges as the most sensitive and civilized boy, recognizing that the true beast resides within the boys themselves. He symbolizes inherent goodness. On the other hand, Roger exhibits a bloodthirsty nature, taking pleasure in intentionally harming others. Roger embodies the inherent evil inherent in humanity.

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Through characters like Simon and Roger, Golding unequivocally underscores the presence of both good and evil within individuals.

Society's Response to Inherent Duality

Golding not only delves into the portrayal of inherent good and evil but also provides insights into how society can navigate this dichotomy to avert catastrophe. One notable instance is found in the chapter titled "Huts on the Beach." This chapter illustrates the boys' construction of shelters on the beach. When they collaborate on the first hut, the result is robust and of high quality. However, as boys abandon the project for various reasons, subsequent huts suffer in strength and quality. Golding symbolically communicates that collective effort produces superior outcomes, suggesting that working together can shield society from the inherent evil within individuals.

Another poignant example unfolds as Jack, one of the boys, establishes his own group on the island, leading to a division between his group on Castle Rock and Ralph's group remaining on the beach. This separation marks a deterioration of the island's democracy, culminating in tragic consequences—Simon's death, Piggy's glasses stolen, SamnEric manipulated, Piggy's murder, and Ralph's life hanging in the balance. This narrative serves as a cautionary tale, illustrating the counterproductive nature of societal disunity and the havoc it wreaks upon civilization.

Contemplating Inherent Good and Evil

The discourse on inherent good and evil has persisted for centuries, with no definitive consensus on their precise definitions. While agreement on these concepts remains elusive, William Golding's warning about the real societal peril posed by inherent dualities is unmistakable. The trajectory of society, if left unattended, may lead to irreversible consequences.

It is imperative to recognize that Golding's cautionary tale is not a mere literary construct but a reflection of societal trends. The world is currently on a perilous path, and collective action is imperative to rectify the course. The innate goodness and evil within individuals must be acknowledged, and proactive measures are necessary to ensure that the forces of inherent evil do not overpower the potential for inherent goodness. Failure to act may result in irreversible damage to the fabric of society.


In conclusion, The Lord of the Flies serves as a profound exploration of inherent good and evil, offering valuable lessons for society. The depiction of boys descending into savagery on the island vividly illustrates the delicate balance between the inherent qualities within individuals. Golding's emphasis on collaborative efforts as a shield against inherent evil provides a blueprint for societal resilience.

As the discourse on inherent good and evil persists, Golding's work remains a timeless reminder that societal harmony requires acknowledging and addressing these dualities. The narrative prompts contemplation on how collective action, akin to the construction of huts on the beach, can fortify society against the inherent evils that threaten to disrupt its foundations. The cautionary tale of The Lord of the Flies stands as an urgent call to action, urging societies to unite against the inherent challenges within, ensuring a future guided by inherent goodness rather than succumbing to the perils of inherent evil.

Updated: Dec 01, 2023
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Exploring Inherent Good and Evil: Lessons from The Lord of the Flies. (2016, Nov 12). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/good-vs-evil-lord-of-the-flies-essay

Exploring Inherent Good and Evil: Lessons from The Lord of the Flies essay
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