The Beast inside Us
“The pile of guts was a black blob of flies that buzzed like a saw. After a while these flies found Simon. Gorged, they alighted by his runnels of sweat and drank. They tickled under his nostrils and played leapfrog on his thighs. They were black and iridescent green and without number; and in front of Simon, the Lord of the Flies hung on his stick and grinned.”
Lord of the Flies follows the adventures of a group of British school boys whose plane crashed onto a deserted pacific island. All grownups were killed in the accident, leaving the boys to fend for themselves. They soon set up a government with the book’s protagonist, a fair haired boy named Ralph, as chief. All is fun and games as the boys start out by building a huge bonfire on the island’s extinct volcano. Then the part of the island’s forest catches ablaze and a little boy goes missing, presumed dead in the flames. That’s when things start to go south. One of the biggest literary questions readers ask themselves is what the purpose of the book is. The Lord of the Flies has a deep meaning, the evil of man, and successfully portrays it in an artistic way.
Every book has a purpose, or a message the author is trying to convey to the reader. Lord of the Flies is no exception. William Golding had a strong and deep message he wanted to tell the world. That message was the evil of man and the depravity of society. This has been the message of many books throughout history, from Huckleberry Finn, to more morbid books like All Quiet on the Western Front. Lord of the Flies’ author William Golding successfully portrays his message.
William Golding’s message deserves a little digging into. What exactly is the evil of man? We are all sinners. Inherently man is just plain bad, always has been, always will be. But why is man sinful? It all dates back to the dawn of time. The first two people on this green earth, Adam and Eve, were given a choice by God. They could not eat a piece of forbidden fruit and live in paradise, or they could choose to disobey God and subject all of mankind to the hardship and cruelty that we know as sin. Naturally they chose option number 2, and that is why we have sin. Just like Adam and Eve, when man is left to his own devices, he will kill everything he can. That is what William Golding was trying to portray in Lord of the Flies.
How is this inherent evil portrayed in Lord of the Flies? Golding uses the analogy of a “beast” to get his point across. This “beast” is a boogieman the boys invent to explain several occurrences on the island. Several boys claimed to have seen it at night, and this terrifies the others. In reality there is in fact no beast. Only one boy sees the truth. Soft spoken and bashful Simon understands that the beast is not some nightmare come to life, but is actually them. They are the beast. They are sinful and evil human beings just like everybody else. Their attempts to build a society on their island crumble like a sand castle. Giving into their evil nature, they turn savage and barbaric, murdering two more boys, and setting up an idol to appease the beast. Golding was only using this as an example. Adults act just like the boys acted on the island. People are constantly murdering and looting each other, setting up idols to their own personal “beast”.
William Golding had witnessed first hand the act of humans slaughtering each other when he served in the Royal Navy during World War II. This is what prompted him to write this book, a tale of a corrupt society. William Golding realized the depravity of man and knew that as human beings, we are inherently evil.
Thus William Golding saw through the lies that society tries to feed us about being basically good and decided to share his insight in the form of The Lord of the Flies. This deep and thought provoking message is the reason why Lord of the Flies is so popular on reading lists. It compels the reader to step back and look at his life, ascertaining if he is basically good, or inherently evil. It causes us to explore our deepest most thoughts and search for the beast inside us.