Are humans good, or are they bad? It’s a question philosophers haven’t been able to answer since the day humanity came to existence. And how about the acts of humanity, are they good or bad? Are we as good as we think we are at this moment, or are we just wearing a mask to hide our true identity?
Lord of the flies is a book that exhibits these problems. It is a direct attempt to trace the defects of society back to the defects of human nature in Lord Of The Flies . The moral is that the shape of society must depend on the ethical nature of the individual and not on any political system
This specific trait makes this book unique amongst others. It is a subject which requires you to change your points of views just to catch this glimpse of who’s good and who’s bad.
One of the philosophers that studied human nature and society, is Thomas Hobbes. He is the author of Leviathan. Which states that when people live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they will inherently result in war and warlike traits.
His ideologies are found everywhere in lord of the flies, the deserted English boys who resort to savagery and brutality. The lack of a strong authority among the boys of Lord of the Flies leads them to make many savage and uncivilized decisions, which models the concepts of Leviathan. There is no denial in the fact that William Golding has based his story off this.
The book itself is really ambiguous, The book isn’t about kids getting stuck on an island and trying to survive. But instead, It holds a deeper, more subtle meaning, this is actually a story of insanity.
As various science experiments have already proven, hunger to power and benefits makes people crazy. There is no denial in the fact that humans are vicious whenever there is no society to control them, it suppresses us from doing any malicious actions.
For example, If someone finds a wallet on the street with 500 euro in it, would they bother taking it or reporting it to the police? Reporting it would be the right thing, but if no-one is near would they take out the money? If there are no witnesses, most of the people would take the money, since there is no way to punish them for it.
It’s completely the same in this book. There’s a line you can draw between evil and good, same as sane and insane. They blend together as if they were one thing. Ralph is clearly trying to do good, He’s the rational one trying to get the boys off the island, so is Piggy. Whilst, on the other hand, Jack symbolises the maliciousness and insanity.
The residents are slowly beginning to lose their moral balance of good and evil. Due to the social control not being there. They are scared of the beast, which is in fact, the irrational inside themselves. The fear keeps growing until finally, the evil takes over, and they have become their own fear.
Furthermore, the diabolism tries to eliminate its good counterpart. Just as insanity tries to eradicate the rational. This gets demonstrated well when Piggy becomes a victim of the cruel events which take place on the island. Since Piggy’s glasses stand symbol for wisdom, intelligence and rational thought. When they broke, this was a sign that the last bit of rational thought got annihilated.
This objectivity makes you wonder how thin the line between good and evil really is.
Jack’s tribe hunts and kills a pig they found, they then stick the head of the animal on a spear. The group members paint their faces and begin a frenzied worship of the pig’s head, They see the thing as the beast and call it the lord of the flies, since the head is rotting and flies fly around it. The name literally translated to Hebrew means “Beelzebub”. Which is another name for Satan.
This is done by intention, since this perfectly contributes to the book’s ideology:
Jack and his tribe have become evil, they are worshipping the devil. During this time, they have done terrible things: Simon and Piggy got brutally killed without mercy.
First of all, everybody is wearing a mask, even in real life. It portraits how people see you. therefore it’s a masquerade of your inner self. Science has proven that people act differently according to the social environment they’re in. For instance, you will act more different at home than at work or at school. This is the same in the book, society helps you shape that mask. It teaches you to be a good person and to exterminate any part of evil. But when no-one is there to help shape it, you shape it yourself in the way it benefits you the most. Likewise, this is also a big part of the book.
Important to note is that none of the kids on the island are really evil, it’s just their own cover which they created themselves. This given is easy to spot when the captain arrives at the island. All the kids lose the vicious masks they are wearing and start crying. Therefore they have faced the glimpse of society returning, which made them good again.
Most noteworthy, the captain himself was shocked about what he saw. He could not comprehend how young boys could perform such gruesome activities. He then looked at his warship and wondered if he was any better.
In the end, society has a more powerful role then we think it has. Through the boys’ actions, this book shows us that we need rules and to consciously impose them to make sure humanity functions properly. We are not savages, we are all human. Whether we are malevolent murderers or good-hearted people, life brings us all together through society. And that’s the moral of the story.