The Exploration of Good and Evil in Golding's Lord of the Flies Essay

The Exploration of Good and Evil in Golding's Lord of the Flies Essay

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The variation in the way humans perceive things is part of the intricacy of mankind. What is thought of as evil to one person can be viewed as good to another. The struggle between good and evil is a major theme in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, when a group of innocent boys, stranded on an island, try to build a civilization from scratch. The question is: while their actions were wrong, are the boys themselves evil for committing them? The boys in Lord of the Flies were not evil, but rather driven by their fear and struggle for survival to become savages, and were inhibited by their instincts to put their survival before their morals.
Animals and men alike kill when in need. When backed into a corner, they will attack, and when they are hungry they will hunt. For example, when Ralph is being hunted by Jack’s “tribe”, he slaughters some of the other boys in order to preserve himself. As the book progresses, the boys slowly revert to their instincts and become more animal-like. When the boys believe Simon is the beast during their feast, they “leapt on to the beast, screamed, struck, bit, tore. There were no words, and no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws” (153). Golding’s description of this scene leads the reader to believe that the boys took up barbaric behavior and leaves them quite disturbed. No civilized being would ever tear with teeth and claws in such a situation. The boys all saw themselves in danger, and eliminated the threat (their perceptions of the beast). Instincts in situations like these are unconscious actions, and therefore do not make a person “good” or “evil”. Only someone’s morals can define them like this, and they do not apply to actions in a life-or-death situation.
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...e ideas were quickly shed, and nothing was accomplished. This is because there is no firm authority on the island. When society is created, so are its rules of acceptance. As the society develops and changes, so do their values, and their views on what is “right” and “wrong”.
No one can be exclusively good or evil. Rather, their natural instinct drives them to do deeds that are then considered by society as either good or evil, and only premeditated situations should be used to judge someone’s character. As each person in that society is an individual, the opinions will vary somewhat. Those boys were affected by the horrible, disgusting things and feelings they experienced on that island. That, combined with their instinct, drove them to commit their “crimes”. None of the inhabitants on that island were evil. They just did what they needed to do to get off alive.

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