Inherent Evil in Lord of the Flies

Inherent Evil in Lord of the Flies

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Inherent Evil in Lord of the Flies


Lord of the Flies provides one with a clear understanding of Golding's view of human nature.  Whether this view is right or wrong is a point to be debated.  This image Golding paints for the reader, that of humans being inherently bad, is a perspective not all people share.   Lord of the Flies is but an abstract tool of Golding's to construct the idea of the inherent evil of human nature in the minds of his readers.  To construct this idea of the inherent evil, Golding employs the symbolism of Simon, Ralph, the hunt and the island.


            Golding drives the point that the instinctual evil within man is inescapable.  At one point in the book, when the Lord of the Flies is representing all evil, this theory is stated as, "The Lord of the Flies was expanding like a balloon" (Golding 130).  Along with this idea is the religious symbolism that is used for ineffectively confronting the evil.  At a point in the book, Golding has Simon, symbolic of Jesus Christ, confront the Lord of the Flies.  This is a pig's head on a stick that is imagined to talk and represent the evil in all humans.  Simon tries to act and spread the knowledge of this evil to others but is killed.  This is a direct reference to the death of Christ, alluding to the Holy Bible.

At many points throughout Lord of the Flies, Golding writes for the characters to become gradually more and more evil.  This attribute even reaches the symbols of goodness and order, such as Ralph.  Once, when Ralph and Piggy go to the feast on Jack's beach, they begin to meld with the others and their evil ways.  "Piggy and Ralph, under the threat of the sky, found themselves eager to take a place in this demented but partly secure society" (Golding 138).  This really only proves their common longing for a place with others, not any depth of evilness.


            Golding also has all of the characters eventually participate in the hunts, his representation of an evil ritual that humans perform.  By having all of the characters practice this, he illustrates his belief that everyone is susceptible to turning evil.  This is not necessarily true.  Humans develop their own dedications to their own beliefs, morals, and ethics.

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Each person has the decision of acting how they wish.  Many acts are considered "bad" by the ruling body of government and are punishable. Other acts are considered "good" and are rewarded.  However, it must be seen that each individual decides for himself what is "good" or "bad" for him to do.  Thus, most people act on what they consider good.  This can seem unusual, for a serial killer may consider brutal murder a good act and helping a friend as an extremely evil action.  One must see that some people also act on what they consider bad.  This may be as a rebellion of all that was forced on them by society.  It might also be due to overwhelming circumstances as well.  But, it is still apparent that people have the choice of acting upon their own goodness or evil.


            Golding also makes it clear that the island that is the focus of the novel is merely a microcosm of the entire world.  He develops his world as one having a destructive nuclear war.  This is meant to demonstrate that everyone, no matter whom or where, will turn evil.  He paints the image of nuclear war as pure and vile evil.  This is not entirely true.  A nuclear war could simply be a typical power struggle by two countries that have nuclear weapons.  It might also be the elimination, through the use of nuclear weapons, of those who oppose what is considered "good." 


            The methods employed by Golding create a large and almost impenetrable illusion to support his claim of the evil human nature.  No one thing can be completely evil.  There is some good to be found in everyone. One should not be mistaken, though, that anyone could be completely good either.  All people have capacity for both good and evil. Golding has a misguided view of all humans being inherently bad. When considering this hypothesis, one must remember that each individual has a consciousness and the ability to choose.  No one can be entirely good or bad. 


Works Cited

Golding, William.  Lord of the Flies.  New York: Putnam Publishing, 1954.


 1. What is the significance of the nuclear weapons?  Where did you get that information?  How does it fit into the novel?  How does Simon's conversation with the lord of the flies deal with the idea of man's free will? 

2. Quotes would have made your paper stronger.  You do use one strong quote, but in order to support your other points you should include quotes for each of the others as well.  Quotes prove that your points are valid points to make.

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