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Inherent Good and Evil in Lord of the Flies

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Inherent Good and Evil in Lord of the Flies

The Lord of the Flies by William Golding is tale of a group of young boys who become stranded on a deserted island after their plane crashes. Intertwined in this classic novel are many themes, most that relate to the inherent evil that exists in all human beings and the malicious nature of mankind. In The Lord of the Flies, Golding shows the boys' gradual transformation from being civilized, well-mannered people to savage, ritualistic beasts.

From the time that the boys land on the island, both a power struggle and the first signs of the boys' inherent evil, Piggy's mockery, occur. After blowing the conch and summoning all the boys to come for an assembly, an election is held. "I ought to be chief , said Jack with simple arrogance, because I'm chapter chorister and head boy"(Golding 22). After Ralph is elected Chief, Jack envies his position and constantly struggles for power with Ralph throughout the rest of the novel, convincing the rest of the boys to join his tribe rather than to stay with Ralph. Also, soon after the boys arrive at the island, Piggy, a physically weak and vulnerable character, is mocked and jeered at by the other boys. After trying to recount all of the liluns' names, Piggy is told to "Shut up, Fatty," by Jack Merridew. Ralph remarks by saying, "He's not Fatty. His real name's Piggy." All of the boys on the island, except for Piggy, laugh and make themselves more comfortable at Piggy's expense. "A storm of laughter arose and even the tiniest child joined in. For a moment the boys were a closed circuit of sympathy with Piggy outside."(Golding 21). The boys instinctively become more comfortable with one another after Piggy's mockery and create a bond, leaving Piggy on the outside.

While Jack and Ralph are exploring the island, they encounter a piglet which Jack supposedly attempts to kill. After gaining the courage to kill the baby pig, Jack rectifies the situation by saying "I was just waiting for a moment to decide where to stab him (Golding 31)." This event clearly illustrates that along with inherent evil, “man is [also] capable of being good and kind, and has to choice and free will to choose which one he will become.”(Ridley 97) Jack's mercy is short-lived, however, and when they encounter another pig, Jack and his hunters are relentless. They return to beach ritualistically chanting "Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Spill her blood," where they excitedly explain the details of the hunt. "I cut the pig's throat,' said Jack, proudly, and yet twitched as he said it (Golding 69). Jack is internally struggling between his civilized teachings and savage instincts in this example, in which he both proudly exclaims his murder and twitches while doing so.

Another example of the boy's inherent evil is the brutal murder of the sow. Without any regard for the sow's newborns, Jack commands his tribe to attack it. The boys "hurled themselves at her. This dreadful eruption from an unknown world made her frantic; she squealed and bucked and the air was full of sweat and noise and blood and terror" (Golding 135). The animalistic behavior of the boys frightens the sow, and the reader as well. After the death of the sow, the boys play with its blood and ritualistically celebrate their kill. Jack "giggled and flicked them while the boys laughed at his reeking palms. Then Jack grabbed Maurice and rubbed the stuff over his cheeks" (Golding 135). The boys show no mercy for the sow and behave like savages. The murder of the sow allows the boys to “revert back to [their] primitive instincts” (Garbarino 96) and lose all traces of guilt and conscience.

In the novel, Ralph and Piggy represent intelligence, reason, and a government. They also try to abstain from resorting back to their primitive instincts and use reason to try and convince the other boys to do the same. "Which is better- to be a pack of painted Indians like you are, or to be sensible like Ralph is?"(Golding 180) states Piggy. The boys' crazed reaction to Piggy's question illustrates Piggy's point about the civility of himself and Ralph, compared to Jack and the rest of the tribe. Many times throughout the book, Piggy is the voice of reason and helps to guide Ralph along that same road if he loses his way. After scolding Samneric for being pessimistic about their fate, Ralph momentarily forgets the reasons why the signal fire is so important. "He tried to remember. Smoke, he said, we want smoke. Course we have. Cos the smoke's a signal and we can't be rescued if we don't have smoke. I knew that! Shouted Ralph" (Golding 172). Ralph begins to lose his initial cheerfulness and enthusiasm and replaces it with disinterest

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