Human Nature in Lord of the Flies

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Noah Miller

Mr. Gallaher

English F

4 September 2012

Human Nature Exposed

In Lord of the Flies, William Golding suggests that the darkness in men’s hearts is endemic: all men suffer from it. Most of the boys follow Jack; Ralph and Simon, themselves. They are not consciously evil, yet they partake in activities which they know to be wrong and follow a leader whom they do not even like. They are like sheep led by a figurehead wolf puppet called Jack, who is in turn manipulated by the real evildoer, Roger. However, Golding also suggests that some people, such as Simon and Ralph are aware of the evil within and attempt to fight against it. Jack ultimately falls victim to his inner demons mainly through ignorance and by giving in to personal desire. Golding expresses that if a person were to be put in an environment where the rules of society had been stripped away, the person would revert back to his primeval nature. Society keeps everybody sane and civilized; people need rules and principles to live by. Without rules and a moral compass, humans tend to revert back to a pre-civilized culture. People are so comfortable in the confines of a civilization that when those confines are removed, people turn into savages.

 Even in an uncivilized world, some taboos could not be broken. “Roger gathered a handful of stones and began to throw them. Yet there was a space around Henry, perhaps six yards in diameter, into which he dare not throw. Here, invisible yet strong, was the taboo of the old life. Round the squatting child was the protection of parents and school and policemen and the law.” (Golding 64). The quote exemplifies the beginnings of Roger’s cruelty to the littluns. The cracks in the rule of humanity are beginning to develop, particularly in the willingness of  the older boys to use physical force and violence to gain superiority over the younged boys. This quotation explains to the reader the psychological workings behind the beginnings of that evil willingness. Roger feels the urge to torment Henry, the littlun, by pelting him with stones, but the vestiges of socially imposed standards of behavior are still too strong for him to give in completely to his savage urges. At this point, Roger still feels constrained by “parents and school and policemen and the law”—the figures and institutions that enforce society’s moral code. Before long, Roger and most of the other boys lose their respect for these forces. Violence, torture, and murder, which are the instinct of the savage replaces the instinct for civilization among the group. Since there is no authority observing their behavior, the children left to do as they please. There is no structure or social compact to protect each individual from the one another. The individual reverts to his true form of human nature which is exposed throughout the book.  

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Savagery starts in the nature of survival. The need to hunt, to eat, to over power an animal and then other humans simply to survive ends the bigguns need for their own humanity.   “His mind crowded with memories; memories of the knowledge that had come to them when they closed in on the struggling pig, knowledge that they had outwitted a living thing, imposed their will upon it, taken away its life like a long satisfying drink.” (Golding 76). This quotation, also from Chapter 4, explores Jack’s mental state in the aftermath of killing his first pig, another milestone ...

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