Nature of Good and Evil in Lord of the Flies

“Lord of the Flies” – Good Versus Evil By Christian Hess. In the advancing ages of modern technology, few questions remain unanswered However, several mysteries still exist, which can not be rationalized or accurately determined with any certainty. One of those questions, is the eternally perpetual pondering of the human nature of mankind. The question remains, and is often analyzed, in attempt to determine if mankind is inherently good, or evil. This question is presented through symbolism in the 1954 novel by William Golding, “Lord of the Flies. The novel has been adapted into two films, one released in 1963 by director Peter Brook, and a second film released in 1990, by director Harry Hook. In whichever form of the story, many interpretations of this eternal question are examined. The story begins when a British plane crashes on the shores of a deserted island. The only survivors of the crash are a group of adolescent boys. Initially the story begins to form around a few major characters. Two young boys named “Ralph” and “Piggy” make the first connection. Ralph represents a fair leader amongst the group.

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He demonstrates the best intentions for the group, with a democratic approach to accomplishing the goals of the newly formed “tribe. ” Another example of democracy is displayed with the Conch shell. It is quickly decided that the conch shell would be used during assembly to signify the speaker of the group. If you had a need to voice an opinion, it would be necessary to be holding the Conch. It also was a symbol for the rules. If the conch is blown, an assembly would be called. In addition, it was a tool used to illustrate respect. The conch symbolized not only the respect of the rules, but respect of whomever was using it. Piggy” is an overweight boy suffering from asthma. He represents the physically weak characteristics of man, unable to provide physical strength to excel over the other boys. Despite is physical shortcomings, he makes up for his lack of physical strength with a strong mental awareness. He has a strong intelligence which allows him to rationalize well, and make calculated decisions. There are evident examples of symbolism in his appearance. His overweight body represents lack of strength, while his glasses illustrates his mental advantages. Another character that is developed early is “Jack. Jack is initially the symbol of discipline. He has the desire to be a leader, and is instrumental in instructing his choir to follow him. As with many characters in the story, Jack undergoes a dramatic transition, when faced with the necessity for survival. It becomes evident early in the story, that the determination of good versus evil, is subject to the surroundings and situations of life itself. Another symbol in the story is that of the “unknown. ” Always a catalyst for fear and unrest, the unknown represents all that is worthy of fear.

In the context of this story, the unknown is represented by the “beast,” an unknown feared beast from the sea, which may or may not exist. The symbolism used in this story, creates a desire to understand the concepts of good and evil. Were these boys evil all along, or were good boys forced to behave in an “evil” manner, in order to survive? When trying to determine the nature of human life, in terms of good versus evil, it is impossible to overlook the moral dilemma of such a question. It is very often that such a discussion would include religious elements that help shape the terms of good and evil.

In terms of religion, evil is described as “the sum of the opposition to the desires and needs of individuals; whence arises, the suffering in which life abounds. ” (Reddy, 2008) It is the contention of strong religious believers, that “everyone has to choose his side of the spiritual fence, for good and evil are opposing powers. ” (Sharpe, 2009) However, the religious opinion of good and evil, is that of a heavily biased view. It is simply the view of imposed and self assumed beliefs, not fact, based in science or experimentation.

Attributing the definition of good and evil to religion, is nothing more than a shortcut to thinking. “Mankind invented the concepts of good and evil. It is our realest, most genius invention. The media can print and show our dark side all they want in the murder stories, conspiracies, and natural disasters. We invented the word ‘evil’ because we saw it manifest in our behavior. ” (Levant, 2007) In other words, good and evil are products of behavior, not “god-given” personal characteristics. The story, “Lord of the Flies,” examines the element of good verses evil, in terms of the surroundings and environment of human beings.

The possible inheritance of such evil behavior in these young boys is up for interpretation. It is my belief that the majority of human life is not inherently evil. When faced with a struggle to survive, human beings are not unlike any other animal. Our survival instinct is just as strong as that of animals in the wild. Our instincts take precedent over our sensibilities. The behavior of the boys in this story can be construed as brutal and blood-thirsty. However, I believe their behavior is a direct result of their surroundings. Ordinary boys were transformed into hunters, relying on their instinct to survive.

These same boys were not running around England, with their faces painted, trying to kill the neighborhood pets for fun. It was only after being faced with their own mortality, that the need to hunt became their savage reality. Bibliography Reddy, Vikas. (2008, November 24). Are Human’s fundamentally evil?. Retrieved from http://www. associatedcontent. com/article/1221124/ are_humans_fundamentally_evil_in_nature. html? cat=9 Sharpe, A. B. (2009). Evil. Retrieved from http://oce. catholic. com/index. php? title=Evil Levant, Nancy. (2007, August 21). Good vs. evil. Retrieved from http:// www. renewamerica. com/columns/levant/070822


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