What do you think Golding has to say about evil in Lord of the Flies? Essay
What do you think Golding has to say about evil in Lord of the Flies?
How does he convey these ideas?
In my opinion, Golding uses his characters to convey ideas of evil throughout his novel. The idea of the beast which is portrayed in the novel, seems to be a metaphor of evil. If this is the case then I assume that whatever Golding says about the beast is the same for evil. The beast is almost a character itself and is also shown to be present in other characters. By showing us the beast in other characters Golding shows us the nature of the beast and therefore also the nature of evil.
Through the pig’s head, Golding conveys the message that the beast (or evil) is ‘part of’ and ‘close’ to man. The pig’s head not only represents the evil man is capable of, but is also given the voice of evil itself. The pig’s head is called the ‘Lord of the Flies’ this tells us it symbolises the devil, which is perhaps the cause of all evil. The image of a pig’s head on a stick reminds the reader of the events kings and queens used to participate in a few centuries ago. To me, this indicates a form of evil lying within public hangings and executions merely covered up by a more civil out look.
Simon and Piggy are shown to have resistance from the beast, by using these characters Golding shows us that evil doesn’t have to take over and there are those who resist it. By showing their deaths, Golding tells us how destructive evil is as it destroys those who oppose it. Golding shows us the horror of the beast through Simon and Roger.
He shows us how civilisation has managed to control most evil but it still exists in some forms ‘Round the squatting child was the protection of parents and school and policeman and the law. Rogers arm was conditioned by a civilisation that knew nothing of him and was in ruins.’ This quote tells us that although civilisation tries to control evil, the civilisation itself is full of evil.
Golding shows us how evil can take control over people through Jack. By using a seemingly wealthy and civilised young boy, Golding shows how evil can take hold of anyone. Golding uses the idea of a mask, which ‘liberates from shame’ of evil doing. By this Golding is telling us that evil may mask itself from others to make it seem more acceptable. This applies to the world outside of the island too, where if you’re a soldier its fine to kill innocent people whereas otherwise it may be seen as murder.
At the end of the book, Ralph weeps for ‘the darkness of man’s heart’, I think this darkness is the capability man has to do evil. Golding describes this capability to be ‘savage’ like and ‘wild’ and those who are overcome by it are ‘savages’ and seen as inhumane. However when he compares this savagery to a naval officer, and a ‘trim’ fighting ship he shows just how human this evilness is, even adults are taken over by it, they just hide behind a more civilised mask.
Golding shows us what evil at its height is capable of ‘a stick sharpened at both ends’; this seems incomprehensible to Ralph. The killing of someone is bad enough but to be proud of it and parade it to people is worst. By showing us this Golding is telling us how disgusting evil is.
The comparison of the ‘little children’ and their ‘sticks’ with the ‘naval officer’ and his ‘revolver’ is where Golding shows us how one sort of evil can put end to another (the transformation from wild savages into little boys occurs when a bigger force appears). This can be reflected in present day situations where war is used to put an end to terrorism. A bigger sort of evil is being used to oppress another. The weaker one is shown to be savage like and wild (such as the children -or terrorists), the bigger one which fights it is shown to be ‘trim’ and civil. There is certainly a danger here because when evil is small and savage like it easy for a bigger evil to defeat it. But the bigger and more powerful form of evil would be hard to fight against, especially when it masks itself to be so ‘trim’ and civil.
Golding portrays the beast as some form of animal, i.e. not human. This is made clear by the language Golding uses when he is referring to the boys when they are being influenced or taken over by the beast. Golding describes the beast within the boys to be ‘The throb and stamp of a single organism’; it has a life of its own, ‘a steady pulse’. In the novel Golding shows Jack’s transformation from an innocent, civil child into a beast like, murderous savage.
This change happens gradually, Golding mentions how he becomes ‘ape-like’ and ‘dog like’. As the boys’ characteristics transform more and more into an animal they becomes more taken over by evil, for example their animal hunting tactics, ‘the tearing of teeth and claws’. This again is as result of Golding showing us how inhumane evilness is. However, this idea of animal like instinct to hunt and kill makes the idea of anything human seem impossible. Golding is almost implying that man is merely an animal which cannot resist these uncontrollable instincts. Even Ralph struggles ‘the desire to squeeze and hurt was over-mastering’ ‘out of the terror rose another desire, thick, urgent, blind’. Golding clearly states the force of evil as a ‘desire’ which blinds man, which I believe, is quite accurate.
Golding seems to be questioning the simple basis of mankind’s civilisation (if it can be called that). This idea of evil being part of everyone and being uncontrollable seems to make all humane morals impossible to sustain. The fight within a person over doing right and wrong only seems to apply when a bigger force can punish you for doing the wrong. When this force is no longer there evil is free to take over and this is what I believe William Golding is telling us through his novel. Golding also shows that there are those who try their best to keep to these idealistic morals and values (Piggy, Simon and Ralph). The fact that 2 of them become martyrs of civilisation seems to tell us that they are fighting a losing battle.
The laws that have been laid by man are only abided to when forced upon someone. The fact that mankind needs such force to do what’s right is frightening. Golding shows us this, he implies that when these laws are broken by those who force them upon people, or when these people are not there, it takes only one person (Jack in this case) to be taken over by evil for the majority to be led into it. The capability of doing evil just seems to grow (‘Stick sharpened at both ends’) until something more powerful can stop it (naval officer).