In this essay, I will be covering the element of the novel, “Lord of the Flies”, in which the “beast” emerges and causes the spread of evil amongst the group of boys.
I will also explain how this has significance throughout the novel, how the previous events build up to this moment, why William Golding included this section, and his reasoning for writing the novel.
The novel “Lord of the Flies” raises controversial issues of morality, basic human instinct and society in general. William Golding, the author of “Lord of the Flies”, portrays very strong beliefs concerning the capacity for evil, inborn into every human being, and these beliefs are portrayed throughout the novel in the way that the learned morals of civilisation and society gradually slip away from the group of boys, and they degenerate into savages, to eventually represent the “beast” on the island. This is what Golding believed was the “capacity for evil”.
He suggested that, once all learned morals of society have slipped away, leaving only the raw nature which humans first possessed, there is a space where civilisation used to lie; the capacity for evil. He calls it this because he believed, that when all morals are non-existent, and human beings have absolved themselves from responsibility, there is nothing to prevent humans from committing evil deeds.
Golding served as a naval officer during the war and through his experience, and through what he saw, he gradually learned that human nature was, perhaps, not as civilised as he previously perceived. He was appalled by how people were ready and willing to harm their fellow men knowing that that there would be no consequences and no reprimand for their actions; the Nazi concentration camps, where Jews were exterminated like rats, the way that the Japanese mistreated their prisoners, the mass bombing of civilians by Britain and America, and even some of the actions that he himself carried out upon people who were not even responsible for the situation. People would do things that they would never have contemplated, had the responsibility been theirs.
People justified their actions by holding the belief that “right” was on their side; however, Golding soon began to question whether people actually believed this, or whether they were just trying to convince themselves that they were not doing wrong. He learned that without rules and boundaries, all human nature could turn savage and unrepentant.
In a psychological experiment carried out in America, to observe the limits of human nature, it emerged that, if people were absolved of all responsibility for their actions, and if the responsibility for their action lay with somebody else, then a person was capable of doing things to their fellow human beings that they would’ve previously never have contemplated, had they been limited by the confinements of civilisation and the responsibilities of society.
This is shown in the book, by the boys’ capacity for evil rising in proportion to the loss of moral confinements and civilisation. Throughout the novel, the evil on the island is represented by the idea of the “beast” which is eventually unleashed from within the boys, after all traces of the morals of civilisation have vanished.
Throughout the novel, Golding uses strong images and underlying implications to build up to, and prepare the reader for the moment that the “beast” emerges and causes the ultimate destruction of everything that represents civilisation on the island.
The setting for the novel is on a tropical island, often associated with paradise. This is a parallel with R.M. Ballantyne’s “Coral Island”, where a group of boys are deserted on a desert island, and work together to from a society in which they can function. When reading “Lord of the Flies” the immediate images that are conveyed, are ones of a tropical paradise, and the immediate conclusions drawn, are that the boys will be able to function correctly. However, in order to convey his deep concerns regarding human nature and the capacity for evil, Golding creates images very early on in the book, that suggest the island is not quite the paradise that we initially perceived it to be.
Weaved intricately amongst the descriptions of the island as a paradise is imagery suggesting a malevolent presence; “witch-like cry” and the religious inferences of the fruits, such as in the Garden of Eden, which actually makes the boys ill, and gives them diarrhoea, all suggest the somewhat sinister undertones of the novel, which unfurl to a greater level as the novel progresses.
We are introduced to Ralph and Piggy very early on in the novel, and we become immediately aware of the social divide between the two, a factor that will unite the boys later in the novel. Ralph is a well spoken and considers himself to be superior to Piggy, because Piggy speaks with poor grammar in comparison. This creates an outsider early on in the novel, and Piggy becomes a subject of ridicule, somebody that doesn’t matter, and someone who provides an easy target for murder, once the boys have degenerated into savages.
In the first chapter, after Ralph has blown the conch and all of the boys have gathered, we are given our first impression of the choir as a “beast” or a creature. “Something dark was fumbling along…the creature stepped from mirage onto clear sand”. The choir has a military style of discipline, which is more apparent than the disciplines of their religion, and they obey Jack when he gives orders. We become aware instantly of Jack’s desire for power, and of the authority that he can command.
When Jack comes forward, he “vaulted onto the platform with his cloak flying” which gives the impression of a creature of mythological evil, such as a vampire. This is where we first become aware of the prominence of Jack, and it hints at the possibility of Jack becoming some sort of dominating, evil presence in the novel.
There is also the connection between Piggy, and the hunting of the pigs, which are considered to be of a lower standing in the food chain on the island; they are inferior, as is Piggy. From the beginnings of the novel, Jack sees Piggy as almost below human, and uses him as a target, when in reality, it is Jack who is the first to descend below humanity. There is a theory, regarding the degeneration into a tyrannical society, that, for this descent to begin, it is necessary to find “an inferior”, which is what all of the boys, with exception possible to Simon, find in Piggy. This provides a base, very early in the novel, for society on the island to degenerate into tyranny and savagery.
The boys begin with an idea for the island of paradise; they will form a civilised society, and begin by having a vote on who should be the Chief. The idea of a vote excites them; it is an “adult” thing to do, a symbol of democracy, as is the conch, but is also a symbol of their old life and of society in general, an aspect which all of the boys wish to recreate on this island.
Jack is adamant that he should be the chief, again confirmation of his desire for power. He justifies his claim with “simple arrogance, “because, I’m chapter chorister and head boy. I can sing C sharp.” His claim to chieftaincy are all physicality’s, he does not have leadership qualities, and his desire for physical power emerges further as the novel progresses, e.g. the whipping to initiate people into his tribe etc.
Jack cares deeply about what the other boys think of him, and when he is not chosen as chief, Jack’s face disappears “under a blush of mortification” which implies that, for the rest of the novel, Jack may always have this deep jealousy of Ralph, and eventually try to displace him as leader. As this tension build up through the novel as the morals of society become less apparent, Jack’s attempt to displace Ralph completely ends with him ordering the killing of Ralph, when the taboo’s of the old life have completely disappeared. When Ralph tells Jack that the hunters are his to be whatever he wants them to be, he is quick to decide that they should be hunters, almost like some primitive tribe, which is eventually what the boys shall become, beginning with pigs and then eventually other members of the group. The hunter’s capacity to kill living things increases as the rules of society that are etched in their minds are forgotten.
We are given subtle hints by Golding, that there is something particular about Jack, which leads him to express the evil side or the “beast” in his personality more so than other characters. Once Jack has degenerated to this level, it enables others to do so, as it absolves them from the responsibility and consequences of their actions, being part of on mass rather than being an individual. Firstly, Jack is shown to dislike democracy, when he “started to protest” at the idea of a vote for the Chief. He is more in favour of a dictatorship than a democracy, and with the formation of his own tribe, he becomes more than a leader, “… painted and garlanded, sat there like an idol.” He doesn’t really care what others want, so long as he is happy. Jack is more likely to forget the rules and regulations of society if he were to benefit from doing so.
Despite losing out in the vote, Jack and Ralph still wish to work together, “Jack and Ralph smiled at each other with shy liking” symbolising the need for cooperation in society, an image that is still firmly imprinted on the mind of every boy on the island.
We become aware of the destruction on the island caused by the boys, very early on. The first instance of this is the mark made by the passenger tube of the plane on the island, which is described as a “scar”. The boys have already to destroy the island even with the civilities of their old life, and the boys, Jack, Ralph and Simon, commit their first act of intentional group destruction, by pushing the boulder down the mountain, whilst they investigate the island. We are then led to question, with this amount of destruction caused by the boys when they are still bound by the invisible limitations of society, what are they capable of when the taboo’s of their old life have broken down? This is answered when the beast finally emerges as the basic human nature of the boys, and climaxes with the death of Simon, who symbolises the pure side of human nature.
In the early part of the novel, the limitations of society are clearly apparent, for example, when Jack cannot bring himself to kill the pig, “what an enormity that downward stroke would be” he tries to make excuses for himself, he cares about what the other think, “I was choosing a place…I was just waiting…to decide where to stab him.” However, it is obvious to the reader that he could not kill the pig, because, etched in his mind, is the firm image that killing is wrong, and that in his society, it is not acceptable.
When the boys get back to the rest of the group, the begin to make plans for the island, “We’ll have rules…Lots of rules…Then when anyone breaks ’em—–.”They want a democratic society, the conch symbolises this democracy, they all want to recreate the civilisation that they knew at home, even Jack. The boys compare their situation to books regarding paradise islands where they can form a society of their own. However, Golding has already hinted that things may not be quite so perfect as the boys have perceived.
The boys want to have fun on this island, and enjoy themselves, which could be seen as the eventual downfall of the boys and of the society that they try to create. As their society becomes forgotten, rescue, the most important thing in the beginning, becomes less important, and having fun dominates the agenda of most boys.
When Ralph talks about the island, he says that things need to be done, and that they need to be rescued, but until then, they shall have fun. “It’s a good island. Until the grown-ups come to fetch us we’ll have fun.” This is ironic because, in Chapter Eight, when Simon is talking to “The lord of the Flies”, it says to him, “We are going to have fun on this island. Understand? We are going to have fun on this island!” implying that the beast within each boy is ultimately their desire for “fun”, and when the taboo’s of the old life have vanished, the beast can fully emerge and enable the boys to become absolved of all remorse that their old life would have made them feel.
The first instance of “the beast” being manifested from the human mind as a physical thing is when the small boy is urged forward, and speaks to Piggy. He has ideas of a “snake thing” and a “beastie” of which the older boys are dubious of at first. However, the general mood of the boys changes, “There was no laughter at all now and more grave watching.” Despite Ralph’s being adamant that the beast does not exist, many of the other boys are not sure, and this is the first time in the novel that the beast becomes a real prospect.
When the boys first decide that they need a fire, all of the boys are keen to join in. They are working as one. Jack takes pride in his civilised world, “we’re not savages. We’re English, and the English are best at everything.” This is also ironic, for it is in fact Jack who degenerates into such a savage, capable of unspeakable deeds when not bound by the rules of society.
When the fire rages out of control, it is another symbol of the destruction caused by the boys. It is describes almost as an animal, “a bright squirrel” “began to gnaw” “a kind of wild life, crept as a jaguar…” this is also referring to the possibility of the group of boys again causing destruction as one body, as an animal, which later becomes apparent when all of the boys, including Piggy and Ralph, become absorbed in the primitive dance as one body, which ends with the death of Simon. Ralph begins to see the capacity for destruction on the island, “the beginnings of awe at the power set free below them…the awe made him savage.” This is ironic because it is Ralph who, despite becoming involved in the dance that kills Simon, does not descend to savagery.
The third chapter begins with Jack, crouched down on a hunt, and acting as a true hunter would, following a trail, examining a cracked twig etc. We are introduced to a side of Jack that is more animal-like, he is described as “dog like” and this is a reflection on how he begun the gradual descent to savagery. Whilst he still bears the majority of the social qualities imprinted on his mind, it is now very easy to believe that he may have lost the social factor which prevents him from harming another creature, and that the prospect of Jack killing a pig, is now very possible.
When he fails to catch the pig, he join the others on the beach where Ralph and Simon are attempting to build the shelters, without the help of the others, who have all gone off to play. This is a reminder of the desire for fn, they don’t want to work, and this desire for fun, part of a series of events that will ultimately lead to the emergence of the beast. This is also the first incident in which we see the conflict of ideas from Ralph and Jack, and we see the conflict of interests as Jack’s moral values deteriorate. Ralph ants to get the shelters finished, whereas Jack wants to hunt, “They were both red in the face and found looking at each other difficult.” When they change the subject, it eventually leads to the beast again, how the “beast” frightens the “littluns” and how they are beginning to doubt the island themselves, and the luxuries that they once thought is gave them. When Simon suggests that it is “as if the beastie…or the snake thing was real.” this causes a slight apprehension amongst the boys, and, whilst they attempt to disregard the thoughts of the beast, the presence is undeniably felt.
When Ralph talks about being rescued, we are given another subtle hint of Jack’s gradual loss of civility when “Jack had to think for a moment before he could remember what rescue was.” His priorities have changed, he no longer cares so much about being rescued, but he is being consumed by the will to hunt and have fun, he is being consumed by the beast from within himself.
Throughout the novel, Simon is portrayed as an almost prophetic figure, with an ability to see the truth of situations. His refuge is in the forest, in an area surrounded by bushes adorned with flowers similar in appearance to candles, he seeks nature. A bush with candles on it is a symbol of the church, and this imagery further confirms his role as a prophetic figure. There is also the religious inference at Simon’s death and the manner in which he was killed; a prophetic figure murdered by his own people.
At the beginning of Chapter Four, it become clear that the boys have now adapted to the natural method of time keeping; the Sun, as opposed to traditional methods, which would have been prominent in their society. This is again symbolic of the loss of the influences of their old way of life, which in turn leads to the descent into savagery.
Despite this, many of the boys still felt the ties with their old way of life very strongly, as if it was etched deeply into the far reaches of their minds, and despite the gradual descent suffered by the vast majority of the boys, many had not descended to the extent that Jack had. For example, when Roger and Maurice kicked over the sand castles built by some of the younger children, this is symbolic of the destruction of the society that they knew. However, when Maurice kicked sand in the young child’s eye, he “still felt the unease of wrong-doing…formed the outlines of an excuse.” Also, when Roger throws stones at one of the young children, he threw to miss, because, “there was a space around Henry…into which he dare not throw. Here, invisible yet strong, was the taboo of old life…the protection of parents and school and policemen and the law. Roger’s arm was conditioned by civilisation.”
The next stage in Jacks deterioration is when he absolves himself of responsibility, and liberates himself behind the mask. It became a new face, he became “an awesome stranger” and Jack’s “laughter became a bloodthirsty snarling…the mask was a thing on it’s own, behind which Jack hid, liberated from shame and self consciousness.” The snarling is symbolic of Jack’s descent to his basic animal instincts, to hunt and survive, and now that he has been liberated from shame, it suggests that he could now be capable of anything without remorse.
It is also this chapter in which Jack’s hunters let the fire out in order to go hunting, when there is a ship on the horizon and the possibility of rescue is more real. However, with no signal, they are not rescued. This is what finally portrays to the reader Jack’s loss of morals, when he has killed his first pig and is confronted by Ralph for letting the fire out.
Jack is “vaguely irritated by this irrelevance but too happy to let it worry him”. It is clear from this that Jack has forgotten the importance of the fire because the civilisation of his previous life has been forgotten, and he is also incredibly satisfied at killing his first pig, something that he would not have contemplated doing had the morals of his old life been present. We can see from Jack’s actions that the lack of civilisation has allowed him, gradually, to lose all morals and this has allowed him to degenerate to the level of a savage.
The group, as a whole, have not lost the morals of their old life to the extent that Jack has, and this can be seen in stages of the dance, when they mime the killing of the pig. The first stage is symbolic of the slight loss of morals, which has enabled them to hunt. When Maurice enters the ring as they chant, the mimed the actions, “pretended to beat him.” Later in the novel, when Robert plays the part of the pig, the actions of the group are a lot more sinister, and they cause real pain to him. After wards, they try to justify it as “a good game” nothing more. The final stage of the groups decline is when they perform the dance that ends with the death of Simon.
In Chapter Five, Ralph calls a meeting and we see all together, the extent to which the society has diminished, due to the loss of morals. He talks about people getting frightened, again symbolising the indisputable presence of the beast on the island. Jack takes this opportunity to exert his authority, he could hunt the beast, and he knows that if he can make the others rely on him to keep them safe from the beast, they will trust him.
One child, who wished to speak, begins to tell Piggy the information that had been drummed into his head from his old life, his name, address and telephone number. When he cannot remember, we are reminded of the gradual loss of civilisation, which was once firmly imprinted into the minds of all children on the island. When he says that the beast comes from the sea, the other boys begin to doubt their own belief that the beast does not exist, and the meeting descends into disorder.
When Simon speaks, he tries to convey his own interpretation of the beast. His interpretation of the beast is that is something that comes from within people, but he lacks the articulate vocabulary that he needs to express his views, and nobody can understand what he means. Simon is the most perceptive of the boys on the island, and he has the ability to see the truth of the situations, but he does not have the means to convey his thoughts.
At the end of the chapter, Ralph prays for a message from the grown up world, and in Chapter Six, they receive one. However, no boy is awake to see what it really is, and it becomes, for the boys, the embodiment of the beast, when, as the reader knows, this is not the case. It is Sam ‘n Eric who are first to spot the “beast”, whilst they are manning the fire. The boys became united in the need to rid the island of this beast, but the opposing characters of Jack and Ralph are shown again. Jack sees this as a real hunt, whereas Ralph is more realistic about the prospect of hunting the beast. This brings the two to argue again, and they eventually decide to go up the mountain. When Ralph goes on his own, he sees the sea, describes as “some stupendous creature…the sleeping leviathan” as a horrible monster, or almost as a beast. It is as if the beast has begun to swallow the island, and become part of everything around the boys.
Ralph begins to long for the luxuries of his old life, to “cut this filthy hair right back to half an inch…have a bath…with soap…a toothbrush would come in handy too.” He is the only boy who is consciously remembering the ways of his old life, and yearning for them. When Simon speaks to him, he tells him “I just think you’ll get back all right.” Notice the use of you’ll and not we’ll, it is almost as if Simon has foreseen his own death.
There is evidence that, despite Ralph never actually descending to the level of a savage, he does feel compelled to join in with the hunters, and actually becomes part of their society, albeit only temporarily, to join in with some of the deeds that are incomprehensible as an individual. For example, he joins the other boys on a hunt, and hits a pig with the spear. He gains a great deal of joy out of doing this, which symbolises the overall demise of everything that good and civilised on the island, and not even Ralph can escape it.
After this, the hunters, including Ralph, re-enact the hunt, with Robert playing the part of the pig. Whereas before, the dances such as this were not violent, all of the boys become absorbed in this primal dance, gaining satisfaction out of hurting another human. “Robert was screaming and struggling with the strength of the frenzy.” “Ralph too was fighting to get near…The desire to squeeze and hurt was over-mastering.” Ralph uneasily tries to justify what he just did. He knows that it was wrong, but as a member of the hunt, he was no longer an individual, and became capable of causing harm to another. This shows how the beast has become an overwhelming power amongst the boys, even Ralph.
When Jack sees the “beast” on the mountain, he is absolutely terrified, which makes us remember that he is only a child, despite what he has done on the island, due to his loss of morals and ethics. The “beast” is “something like a great ape” a simile used often in the novel to symbolise evil. When they tell the other boys, Jack comes to the conclusion that the beast is a hunter, which reaffirms his “age old tremors in the forest” and the feeling that he had, when he was hunting, of being the hunted.
Jack becomes insulted by Ralph, and tries to turn the other boys against him. He tries to displace him as chief, and fails. His concern for what others think of him causes hi great embarrassment, “Slowly, the red drained from Jack’s cheeks, then came back with a painful rush.” He decides that he can no longer remain under Ralph’s Chieftaincy, and left to form his own tribe, inviting others to join him. Initially, nobody does, but gradually, more and more of the boys leave to join Jack’s tribe. Jack has the ability to unite the boys against a common enemy, for most of the part this was Piggy, an obvious outsider, and this ability to unite the group is similar to the fascist leaders in the Second World War.
Because Golding wrote the novel shortly after World War Two, after the devastation had swept through the world, he was able to witness the power of the fascist leaders such as Hitler and Mussolini, and the effect they had over the people who they ruled. Golding depicts the power of the leaders in the book, and Jack’s character resembles the fascist powers of the war. The way in which Hitler came to power is similar to the way that Jack eventually displaces Ralph. The situation in Germany after the First World War was one of devastation and despair.
The reparations that the Germans were forced to pay and the Wall Street Crash crippled the German economy and people rebelled against the government. Hitler used this as a way to gain support and become powerful, promising Germans that he would make their country strong again, and provide them with the things that they needed. People joined him out of desperation, needing the things that he was promising. This is similar to the way Jack gained support, because he was aware of the doubt and fear that was spreading through the boys. He promised them meat and fun, which they gratefully accepted, leaving Ralph to join Jack’s tribe.
Simon suggests climbing the mountain, to see the beast. But nobody else agrees. Climbing a mountain is one of the oldest symbolisations of the struggle and the search for truth. When Simon does climb the mountain on his own, he does find the truth, and we are led to the moment where the beast is finally unleashed within the boys, and Simon is killed before he can tell them the good news.
When Jack has formed his own tribe, and they go to hunt together, we see that Jack has now become a savage with no remorse, just barbaric cruelty. This is inferred when they kill the sow, for not only will she die, but the piglets also, who would have fed them in the future. It is no longer about hunting for food, but for pleasure and satisfaction of hurting another living being. Jack insists on leaving the head as an offering for the beast, he sees it as a superior hunter, almost as a god, and that they should worship it.
Jack’s tribe, towards the end of the novel, are described as savages, which suggest they have completely abandoned all civilisations, and lead the lives of animals. The reasons for this can be linked to the theories held by Charles Darwin, who formed the theory of evolution, in which the fittest survive, creating a species of increasing strength. A prime example of this occurrence is in groups of wild animals, such as lions. Only the strongest male is allowed to mate with the females, and must fight off competition from other males.
Although there were no females on this island, Jack displayed natural urges such as this, because the basic instinct in humans is the same as the basic instinct in animals, and that this basic instinct to lead and be powerful is still present. The language that Golding uses when the boys hunt, suggests that the sexual desire to hunt and be the leader is still present, even thought there are no females on the island. The boys follow the pig, “wedded to her in lust” which shows natural sexual instinct, which is present in nature; the male lion wants to become the leader of the pack in order to produce offspring.
Once Jack had gained control of the group, he began to create fear amongst the boys. He reinforces the idea of the beast by leaving an offering for it. This makes the boys fear more extreme; if Jack believes in the beast, then surely it must be real.
The tension, which builds up to the point when the beast emerges, is symbolised by the weather. “There were no shadows under the palms…only this strange light…among the bulging clouds thunder went off like a gun.” This tension builds up as this section of the novel progresses, and is constantly symbolised by the build up of the weather, which climaxes with the storm as the actions of the boys climax with the killing of Simon.
As Simon speaks the Lord of the Flies, (which literally translates as Beelzebub, or the Devil), he hears the Lord of the Flies say what he already knew, deep down, but could not convey to the others. “I’m the Beast…You knew didn’t you? I’m part of you?…I’m the reason why it’s no go.” Simon is aware that this represents the beast that is present in all of the boys. “You know perfectly well you’ll meet me down there – so don’t try to escape!” This symbolises the fact that the beast is now everywhere, surrounding the island, it is part of everything, and has destroyed the limitations of society. The beast tell Simon that they shall have fun, no matter what, which corresponds with Ralph saying in the beginning of the novel that they shall have fun. It is this, the beast, the desire for fun that has brought about the destruction of society and the loss of morals. “We shall do you. See? Jack and Roger and Maurice and Robert and Bill and Piggy and Ralph. Do you. See?” It is almost as if Simon has foreseen his own death.
The build up of tension continues, “the build p of clouds continued…until the air was ready to explode.” When Simon finds the parachutist on the rock, he freed him, and realises what the boys have all been afraid of, he resolves to go down the mountain, and tell the others. “the thunder exploded again…big drops of rain fell among them…the flickering light became brighter and brighter and the blows of the thunder were only just bearable.”
The boys have become not a group, but a tribe, and they can think of nothing else to do, than their tribal dance. Even Piggy and Ralph take part in the dance, “under the threat of the sky, found themselves eager to take part in this demented, but partly secure society.” Ralph feels that he would rather become part of this savage society, than be completely excluded, he find some comfort in the knowledge that he is not an individually but part of a larger body.
“the ring yawned emptily.” As if it needs to be filled by something. The beast is beginning to emerge, as the tribe becomes one creature, totally absolved of all responsibility for their actions, which would not apply, were they individuals, “the throb and stamp of a single organism.” the organism in effect, being the beast. The ring becomes horseshoe shaped a Zulu hunting technique, as the tension continues to build up. As Simon stumbles into the ring, the narrator refers to him as the beast, symbolic of what the boys think he is.
However, in the next few lines, the narrator refers to him as Simon, suggesting perhaps that there is something in the boys that do still recognise him. It also uses the word “him” not “it”, which is very specific. If they had truly believed Simon to be the beast, then the gender would be irrelevant. The narrator then goes back to using the work beast, to imply Simon, which implies there is now no knowledge of Simon, and the boys, “screamed, struck, bit, tore…tearing of teeth and claws” The boys are now described as animals, they are, as one the true beast, and it has been unleashed on the island, as all traces of morals and ethics have vanished.
The lack of humanity left in the boys causes them to see Simon as the beast. However, in the passage concerning Simon’s body being washed out to sea, he becomes Simon again, as the boys become themselves again, not one giant organism. Simon is made “silver” and dignified, marble like, by the sea taking him back to nature, the very thing that he originally sought after. Simon’s death symbolises the death of belief, of decency and compassion, and the ability to see the truth. It has led to the total demise of good and decency on the island.
Also, now that they have seen the parachutist, they believe in the beast more than ever, and now Simon is dead, there is nobody who can tell them the truth, and Jack uses this fear of the beast to control his tribe. Ralph is the only boy who can admit to what they have done to Simon, even Piggy tries to justify what they did, but only Ralph admits that it was murder, which symbolises the fact that Ralph has not quite succumb to the beast, as the majority of the other boys have done.
The final taboo on the island was to kill another human, and now that this taboo has been broken, there is nothing to stop Jack from doing whatever he desires. Not only has Jack degenerated to this level, but also other members of his tribe have, and we see this later in the novel, when Ralph and Piggy go to see Jack at the other end of the island, for it is Roger, not Jack who drops the boulder, killing Piggy, and smashing the conch. With the destruction of the conch, democracy is destroyed, which is symbolic of the fact that democracy is a fragile thing, and can only work when everybody believes in it.
In this novel, Golding was questioning the capacity for evil in all humans, and whether the basic instinct of all humans is evil, where they will stop at nothing for the basic desire for power, but that civilisation prevents this from being exposed.
Throughout the novel, we can see that, in Golding’s opinion, human nature has the ability to turn savage, under the right conditions. The boys begin with a glorious image, similar to that of Coral Island of a beautiful island paradise, which they can inhabit and live happily and have fun until they are rescued.
In the beginning we see that the boys have a strong desire to recreate a society similar to the one that they have just left. They want rules and regulations, and all of the things that make a civilised society work.
Despite this, we see that, in Golding’s opinion, without the moral restraints that are present in a civilised society, the basic human nature to survive will kick in, causing all traces of morals and ethics to be forgotten, until the human has degenerated into a primeval savage, capable of doing anything in order to survive. They become not human, but animals, beasts, and this emerges as the morals of their old life disappear.
He believed that it was society that gave you an identity, without society, and therefore identity, humans would become absolved from all responsibilities and could therefore commit un-comprehendible deeds without remorse.
I believe, that there is the basic capacity in all humans for evil, a capacity to hurt and kill descending from the days where it was necessary for humans to hunt and kill in order to survive, yet I believe that the capacity for evil is not as extreme as Golding portrays in his novel. For Golding implies that, without the presence of civilisation, humans would act in a way that they would have been required to behave in order to survive, and degenerate until they are no more than animals, or beasts. By this he implies that, led by their desires and needs, and absolved of responsibility, the natural instinct for humans is to behave in an evil manner.
I disagree that humans are evil, because otherwise how could civilisation have developed in the first place? If everybody acted in an evil way, then this behaviour would have been considered acceptable, and “normal” and nobody would feel the need to say what was right and what was wrong, because everybody would behave in the same manner. If this was the case, actions such as murder would be accepted as any other essential impulse would be such as eating or sleeping, however, this is not the case, because society has taught us that these things are wrong. This shows that there is an even larger capacity in human nature for good and decency, which overcomes the capacity for evil and enables humans to form a civilisation.
So human nature is not basically evil, despite people that do evil things, when absolved of responsibility, people do what they feel is necessary at any given moment, which may be an evil deed, such as those seen by Golding in the war. This does not mean, however, that these people are evil, merely that they are doing what they feel is necessary at that given time, in their case, to save their country.
Of course it is undeniable that there are people who do murder, without justification, and people who do commit evil deeds without necessity, but it must be remembered that these are part of a vast minority, and this is not present in the basic human nature, which has a far greater capacity for good than evil.