Mankind's Evil Exposed in Lord of the Flies
Despite the progression of civilization and society's attempts to suppress man's darker side, moral depravity proves both indestructible and inescapable; contrary to culturally embraced views of humanistic tendencies towards goodness, each individual is susceptible to his base, innate instincts. In William Golding's Lord of the Flies, seemingly innocent schoolboys evolve into bloodthirsty savages as the latent evil within them emerges. Their regression into savagery is ironically paralleled by an intensifying fear of evil, and it culminates in several brutal slays as well as a frenzied manhunt. The graphic consequence of the boys' unrestrained barbarity, emphasized by the backdrop of an external war, exigently explores mankind's potential for evil.
Dismissing the detonation of an atom bomb and the possible deaths of their parents as merely an "unusual problem" (14), the schoolboys selfishly indulge in their lush jungle environs. The overwhelming "glamour [which] spread[s] over them" (25) momentarily eclipses their awakening need for domination. At first, the boys express this necessity through the seemingly innocuous heaving of rocks and the belittling of Piggy, who is physically inferior. Had these actions occurred in the boys' English homeland, they would have been accepted as ordinary,childish behavior. However, under the guise of innocent excitement, the boys derive an unimaginably "violent pleasure" (18) from "exercising control over living things" (61).
Ominously, their craving for power is a presage for the blood that is to be shed. This blood which had initially been so "unbearable" (31) is now lusted after; it compels Jack and his followers to hunt, because it seduces them with the promise of killing. Challenged by Ralph's strong advocation for responsibility and order, Jack feels ashamed by his relentless compulsion to "track down [quarry] and kill" ( 51). Consequently, he uses the need of meat to rationalize his savage behavior, although there is an abundance of fresh fruit. The need for this excuse is obviated when Jack starts to apply a mask of paint in order to liberate himself from "shame and self-consciousness" (64). Moreover, this self-deception enables him to become an "awesome stranger" (63), capable of wholly abandoning any sense of morality or ethics.
Further blinded by the illusion that their supposedly superior English heritage precludes savagery, the boys ignore the perverse qualities of their actions. Nevertheless, they become terrified as they increasingly feel the blight of their own evil upon the island. Attempting to attribute the decay of sanity and civilization to...