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Mankind’s Evil Exposed in Lord of the Flies

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Essay title: Mankind’s Evil Exposed in Lord of the Flies

In every person, there is a hidden potential to be evil. The preadolescent boys, who are stranded on the island in William Golding's Lord of the Flies, become associated with many aspects that symbolize certain ideas. Lord of the Flies shows the downfall of the boys from civilized to savage like and at times even barbaric. Through the use of symbols such as the conch, the beast, and the fire, William Golding demonstrates that humans, when taken away from society, slowly unleash the inherent evil within.

One of the first introduced symbols was the conch shell. The conch shell represents power and authority. Ralph had used it to call for the boys to come to meetings. “Ralph smiled and held the conch up for silence...” (p. 23) The conch had represented respect and order amongst the boys. Thus whomever had the conch, had the power to speak without being interrupted. Unfortunately not all the boys agreed on the power of the shell. “…the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist…suddenly Jack bounded out from the tribe and begun screaming wildly…” (p. 181). At that moment, the once respected and worthy conch shattered causing the common sense within the boys to disappear. Chaos broke loose after the conch had been destroyed, which shows that evil and havoc would occur without the conch’s rules and boundaries.

Another key symbol is the infamous beast. There are two interpretations of the beast in Lord of the Flies. Jack had stuck a dead pig’s head on a spear to offer the beast, but to Simon, the pig’s head was the Lord of the Flies because there were flies swarming around the dead head. Simon speaks to the Lord of the Flies when he was hallucinating, and the Lord of the Flies even tells Simon who the real beast is. "Fancy thinking the beast was something you could hunt and kill! You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you?" [Lord of the Flies] (p. 143) Simon learns that the beast, which scares all the boys, isn’t a physical beast but the beast within all of them. “At once the crowd surged after it, poured down the rock, leapt onto the beast, screamed, struck, bit, tore.” (p. 153) The boys were so caught up in thinking that there truly was a beast, that they ended up killing Simon. The “beast” creates insanity on the island and prevents many of the boys to use their common sense. The beast represents fear and destruction; the fear that they will not return home and the fear of dying. The evil beast within the boys creates a tense atmosphere, brings fear to all, and even kills some of the boys.

Lastly, the fire was the main element that forced the boys to split into two groups. In the beginning, all the boys were eager to start a fire and help out. “…your only hope is keeping a signal fire going....” (p. 178) The fire is a symbol of the hope of being found and the hope in returning home safely. As the fire gets neglected, the hope to return home starts to diminish. “Just an ordinary fire. You’d think we could

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