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Lord of the Flies Literary Analysis

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How does William Golding support his hypothesis of what could possibly happen on an island when humans and boys in particular are marooned there? You may consider setting, characterization, themes and/or symbolism you must incorporate quotes from the text to support your analysis. William Golding wrote Lord of the Flies shortly after the end of WWII. The novel's plot, in which a group of English boys end up stranded on a deserted island struggle to develop their own society, is a social and political thought-experiment using fiction. The story focuses on their attempts at civilization, devolution into savagery and violence puts the relationship between human nature and society under literary observation. Golding uses several allusions to human evolution, such as when the boys discover fire, craft tools, and form political and social systems in a process that recalled theories of the development of early man. Golding's hypothesis about humanity is pessimistic, that is, there are anarchic and brutal instincts in human nature. He displays this throughout his conveying of the setting, characterization, themes, and symbolism. The novel takes place on an un-known inhabited island in the Pacific Ocean, Immediately in the novel Golding reveals the instinct of the restricted human savagery in the boys in regard to the setting. “Behind this was the darkness of the forest proper and open space of the scar” Page 10. Golding shows the destructive powers of humans already, for the boys have just reached the island and there is already a large brooding scar on a once beautiful island never defiled by man. The quote seems to focus on the darkness of the forest behind the scar it is almost as if the scar cleared a pathway to enter into a new found darkness that the young boys had brought with them on the island. This is a gateway to show the suppressed darkness that is deep within these young boys. The Jungle is a major setting of the novel for, it is Simon’s place of rest and visions. He discovers his nature area in chapter three, Huts on the Beach. It is one of the ironies of the book that this ‘holy’ place is the very spot where Jack and his hunters bring the head of the pig, impale it, and revere it. This pig’s head, rotting on its stick, is the Lord of the Flies, Beelzebub, Evil, and the Dark. Simon’s encounter with the Lord of the Flies is the key passage in the book as the head utters “evil is not a threat from outside, it is inside the humans.” But already before the obscene decapitated pig on the spike Simon comes to acknowledge the existence of his own evil. In Beast from Water he states: “What I mean is…may be its only us.” page. 89 Golding’s use of characterization also shows the effects of such an instance. Jack represents the savagery or evil in man. He loses his ability to remain civilized while he is stranded on the island. He gives in to his innate savagery and becomes dehumanized. He becomes a wretched evil person, becoming blood thirsty and slaughters pigs unmercifully. He laughs and shakes the blood from his hands after killing a sow. Jack laughs as Roger probes the sow's anus with his spear. He laughs as Roger twists and puts all of his weight on the spear while the sow screams in agony. “Then Jack found the throat and the hot blood spouted over his hands.” He becomes cruel in his killing of the sow. He leads his mighty hunters into a hunting-dance frenzy. During the dance frenzy, Simon comes crawling out of the woods and Jack and his hunters jump on him and kill him with their bare hands and teeth Jack represents the most evil nature a man can have--a complete lust for blood and the power of the hunt; he represents leadership by intimidation and rebelliousness. By the end he is compared to an “ape” and called a “savage.” Golding utilizes symbolism to exemplify the theme of man's capacity for evil. We see where he depicts the pig head or the Lord of the Flies who torments and tantalizes Simon with the truth. The Lord of the Flies rhetorically questions Simon: "You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you? Close, close, close! I'm the reason why it's no go? Why things are what they are?" Page.143. The quote certifies that the beast is indeed within Simon as well as all of the boys. In truth, when the Lord of the Flies is talking to Simon, it is really Simon hallucinating as he hears the voices of the boys as a whole in his own mind. In this case Simon has become overcome with the beast inside himself: "Simon found he was looking into a vast mouth. There was blackness within, a blackness that spread" Page. 144. However, Simon never exhibits evil tendencies, instead he denies it by merely blacking out as a result of his internal turmoil: "Simon was inside the mouth. He fell down and lost consciousness" Page. 144. The pig's head on a stick symbolizes the metaphorical Lord of the Flies, which is ultimately the demon found to be within each of the boy's hearts and minds. This can be interpreted as the inner voice of evil. Furthermore, it can be argued that because Simon is perhaps the most outwardly calm and even tempered of all of the boys, he was able to hear his conscience and his inner capacity for evil together as one. This is one of the most significant examples of the use of symbolism in Lord of the Flies. It is clear that Golding's implementation of symbolism through the verbal battle between Simon and the Lord of the Flies further exhibits the beast or evil lurking within the boys and therefore within humanity. Golding's hypothesis shows that all men are capable of evil because of their inherent human nature is relevant to the modern world. All men have the capacity for evil given the right set of circumstances. This proves that all individuals have the capability to commit evil acts in extreme situations. While all human beings have the ability to be altruistic, darkness lies within all of humanity, and when provoked, everyone is capable of evil.

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