"The Lord of the Flies": Shining a Light on the Evil Inherent in Human Nature

"The Lord of the Flies": Shining a Light on the Evil Inherent in Human Nature

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How do we, as humans, define civilization? What is it that exemplifies our commonality as a species and sets us apart from the common beast? Is it art, science, literature, technological advances, or the philosophical mind? In the Lord of the Flies, Golding successfully unravels our delicate perceptions about what makes us human through a series of haunting and powerfully constructed symbols; among the most integral are the beast, the Lord of the Flies itself, and the fire. Through his narrative, illumination is cast upon the evil inherent in human nature, and society is revealed as a weak and easily penetrable façade. Furthermore, our level of refinement is given light as an instrument for incomparable malevolence, enhancing our powers of destruction beyond that of any of our primal ancestors.

Golding constructs these images carefully, and at their very centre lies the concept of the beast. In the heart of the island, crawling about in the dark foliage of the jungle, the boys begin to unknowingly personify the beast as the snake. They become overcome with fear of the unseen monster which attacks from all fronts, land and sea, and from which there is no refuge. This broad abstraction of the beast later crystallizes to the reader when it evolves into the Dead Parachutist, who, while being human, has departed, still snared by a "complication of lines." His man-made trap, which will remain long after his earthly body has deteriorated, gives the illusion of life to the deceased soldier. This Dead Parachutist is aptly referred to as a "message from the adult world", as the parachute stands as the clinching metaphor for the hollow and bureaucratic constructs that serve as both the pillars and bars of society. For beyond the wars, the...

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...society. Yet, bleakly and ironically, he observes that the very accomplishments that civilize us, and progress us beyond the likes of animals, indeed allow for a greater range of possibilities within human savagery. However, the Lord of the Flies is not a fatalistic statement on the insurmountable nihilism of humankind. At the novels open-ended conclusion, a thread of human diplomacy remains, however close to extinguishment by the barbarian. This fraction of hope is an invocation to humankind, so that it can find its humanity. It is a conjuring of the goodness that lies within all of us, and a plead to examine the path that we have chosen to take as a species. But above all, the Lord of the Flies is a conjecture about our future downfall made by a man who has witnessed in his life the atrocity and carnage that is potential at the hands and in the souls of people.

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