Reading Lord of the Flies, one gets quite an impression of Golding’s view
on human nature. Whether this view is right or wrong, true or not, 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. This
opinion, in fact, is a point that many have disagreed with when reading
his work. There are many instances throughout Lord of the Flies that
state Golding’s opinion suggesting an evil human nature. Each of these
instances are the bricks holding together his fortress of ideas that are
constantly under attack.
Lord of the Flies is but an abstract tool of Golding’s to construct the
idea of human nature in the minds of his readers. Throughout the novel,
it is stated that all humans are evil. It is said that this evil is
inescapable and will turn everyone evil. 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 (a Christian deity), 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 of everyone being
susceptible to turning evil. This fact is not necessarily true. Humans
develop their own dedications to their own beliefs, morals, and ethics.
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 each
person has 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 who or where, will turn evil. He paints the image of
nuclear war as pure and vile evil. This is not entirely, or at all, true.
A nuclear war could simply be a power struggle that has mass power behind
it. It might also be the elimination of those who oppose what is
considered ?good.? Anyway, the way Golding demonstrates and terms many
things in Lord of the Flies creates a large and almost impenetrable
illusion to support his claim of the evil human nature. No one thing can
be all evil or entirely anti-good. Many things can be usually bad or
mostly considered bad, but there is some good to be found in everyone.
One should not be mistaken, though, that anything could be all good
either. All people, actions, and things have the potential to be neutral.
This can easily be sustained. It can also be tipped to favor good or
bad, but nothing is purely one or the other.
As shown above, Golding has a misguided view of all humans being bad.
This cannot be, for nothing can be entirely good or bad. When considering
this, one must also remember that each individual had his own
consciousness, thus has the ability to choose. This also applies to good
and bad actions. If one does mostly good actions, they might be
considered good. If one does mostly bad actions, they might be considered
bad. This should be kept in mind when thinking about human nature, rather
than some twisted concept of everyone being uncontrollably bad.
Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. New York: Putnam Publishing, 1954.