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The True Colors of Humanity in Lord of the Flies, a Novel by William Golding

Updated August 1, 2022
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The True Colors of Humanity in Lord of the Flies, a Novel by William Golding essay

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According to ancient Puritan scripture, the Puritans believed all humans were born evil, and will stay that way until they devote their lives to God. However, they did not clarify whether the prevalence of such evil varies from person to person. From a psychological perspective, this “true human nature” is known as the id, or the instinctive want for something. As shown numerous times in media, literature, and history alike, this primal instinct comes into play whenever civilization is not present. However, the id can vary from person to person, depending on the reliance on structure. By writing Lord of the Flies, William Golding questions man’s true nature and the prominence of this nature through the mask of societal normalities, expressed in the characters Jack, Ralph, and Piggy.

From being on an island and away from all civilization (in terms of the attempted island civilization and regular civilization), Jack unveils his savage disposition several times throughout the book. Golding writes, “The afternoon wore on, hazy and dreadful with damp heat; the sow staggered her way ahead of them, bleeding and mad, and the hunters followed, wedded to her lust, excited by the long chase and the dropped blood.” (Golding 135) There is a certain point in the book when the fine line between hunting and killing fades. This quote perfectly describes that point. Although Jack and his hunters are chasing down a pig for survival in the long run, the “wedded to her lust” and “excited by the long chase and the dropped blood” shows killing the pig is only for personal pleasure, which extends to Jack unveiling more and more of his savagery throughout the story. With the same amount of gore, “The spear moved forward inch by inch and the terrified squealing became a high-pitched scream. Then Jack found the throat and the hot blood spouted over his hands.” (135) Again, the line between hunting and killing has blurred tremendously. Even the usage of the English language has morphed into this cesspool of carnage, heeding to Jack’s character development. Further pertaining to Jack’s savage nature, Golding writes, “At once the crowd surged after it, poured down the rock, leapt on to the beast, screamed, struck, bit, tore. There were no words and no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws.” (153) The description of these actions is solely animalistic, proving the notion of Jack unveiling his true colors through violence.

Much like Jack, Ralph has also been influenced by his own instinctive desires for pleasure but is less likely to act upon those impulses. Regardless, his savage nature lies under the surface. For example, Golding writes, “Piggy and Ralph, under the threat of the sky, found themselves eager to take a place in this demented but partly secure society. They were glad to touch the brown backs of the fence that hemmed in the terror and made it governable.” (152) Even though Ralph feels pressured into joining the tribal dance, the desire to slip into the natural state of savagery is still there. Another example of this hidden primal instinct is when Piggy insists they had absolutely nothing to do with the death of Simon. However, Ralph ignores his sentiment. “I wasn’t scared,’ said Ralph slowly, ‘I was– I don’t know what I was.”” (156) This quote further proves the last statement. His instinct took over, and the lust for blood came upon him, leading to the death of Simon. Finally, the point is further driven home when Golding writes, “You were outside. Outside the circle. You never really came in. Didn’t you see what we– what they did?’ There was loathing, and at the same time a kind of feverish excitement, in his voice.” (157) On the outside, Ralph mainly feels at fault for joining in on the death of Simon. But on the inside, he knows he gets a rush tapping into his internal, savage nature.

Out of the three levels of evil, Piggy appears to be the “purest”, or at least the one who depends more on the structure of their old society. Using the same quote from the previous paragraph, “Piggy and Ralph, under the threat of the sky, found themselves eager to take a place in this demented but partly secure society. They were glad to touch the brown backs of the fence that hemmed in the terror and made it governable.” (152) This quote perfectly describes how the “innocent and pure” Piggy has violent, animalistic instincts just like everyone else on the island. Again, using one of the same quotes from the previous paragraph, “You were outside. Outside the circle. You never really came in. Didn’t you see what we–what they did?” Although Piggy was outside of the circle, he was still present in the moment. Like Ralph, he too was subjected to his own blood lust. Finally, Golding writes, “I’m going to him with this conch in my hands. I’m going to hold it out. I’m goin’ to say, you’re stronger than I am and you haven’t got asthma. You can see, I’m goin’ to say, and with both eyes. But I don’t ask for my glasses back, not as a favor. I don’t ask you to be a sport, I’ll say, not because you’re strong, but because what’s right’s right.”” (171) His dependency on societal norms and structure may make him seem like the voice of reason, but that does not mean his savagery is nonexistent; it is simply only well-hidden. William Golding’s Lord of the Flies unveils the violent and savage nature of mankind, portraying the varying prevalence with Jack, Ralph, and Piggy. Everyone has the possibility of being a ruthless, violent savage. It is a part of human nature.

The True Colors of Humanity in Lord of the Flies, a Novel by William Golding essay

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The True Colors of Humanity in Lord of the Flies, a Novel by William Golding. (2022, Aug 01). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-true-colors-of-humanity-in-lord-of-the-flies-a-novel-by-william-golding/

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