Human Nature: Shakespeare's Macbeth and Golding's Lord of the Flies Essay

Human Nature: Shakespeare's Macbeth and Golding's Lord of the Flies Essay

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Throughout history many people have tried to pin down the true nature of man. There are many who will fight to say man is essentially good or essentially evil.These people are called philosophers and while all the ideas are just hypotheses, some contain much truth in them. Both William Shakespeare's Macbeth and William Golding's Lord of the Flies follow the ideas of the english philosopher Thomas Hobbes on the nature of man. Hobbes' ideas on the nature of man, that man is selfishly individualistic, man is constantly at war for self preservation, constant state of war produces brutish people and that law and punishment prevent brutish behaviour are showcased through the thoughts and actions of many characters.

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth from William Shakespeare's Macbeth as well as Ralph and Jack from William Golding's Lord of the Flies, are selfishly individualistic, advance only what they view as important, think only of themselves, use anything and anyone they can to further their aspirations. Macbeth uses Duncan to gain the throne of Scotland and Jack ignores the values of the group to satisfy his craving to kill. Macbeth's willingness to use Duncan to gain power is shown as Macbeth thinks about what he will do after Malcolm is named the Prince of Cumberland saying aside,

The Prince of Cumberland: that is a step
On which I must fall down, or else o'erleap,
For in my way it lies. Stars hide your fires,
Let not light see my black and deep desires,
The eye wink at the hand. Yet let that be,
Which the eye fears when it is done to see(1.4.48-53).

Jack's abandonment of the group's values for his own are exhibited as Jack defends himself from Ralph as he questions Jack about why he let the fire go out saying,

“We had to ...

... middle of paper ...

...hove one could find them self acting like a Macbeth or Jack. Who could honestly say that they wouldn't lie, or steal, or cheat or even kill if the benefit outweighed the risk. Who is pure enough to actually refrain from hurting another in one way shape or form to benefit oneself. There is no-one. People act only for themselves and do so to survive in a world where everyone else is the exact same. Man is selfishly individualistic, it is in man's nature to do these things. Man is constantly at war and constant state of war creates brutish people and thus creates brutish behaviour. That is why there are laws, government and systems of punishments, because people need it to suppress their true nature. Without rules and punishments man is nothing but animals, dangerous and self serving.

Works Cited

William Shakespeare's Macbeth
William Golding's Lord of the Flies

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