“Lord of The Flies” Literary Analysis

A short literary analysis on "Lord of the Flies" by William Golding on where evil originates.

Society generally believes that human nature is extremely vicious. This explains why there are rules and punishment to maintain law and order. In William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, the boys display the malice of human nature and the circumstances that trigger the evilness within them.  Man’s desire to dominate the weak, especially in the absence of familiar authority, clearly demonstrates this point. Golding attempts to criticize the evil that is among everyone, including even the most innocent forms of people, that is, children.

            The change of character in Roger illustrates chaos in the absence of authority. In the book, Roger throws rocks at the Littluns, but aims to miss because he remembers that doing so is restricted in his past British upbringing. Depending on how a child is raised, it may either inhibit or nurture this evil nature. If a child happens to have a family that promotes integrity, he would more likely live a decent life. On the other hand, a less fortunate child who is surrounded by a corrupt family tends to express his wicked potential at one time or another. Even with the lucky child, he may go under bad influence, or go through certain traumatic experience at some point in life, and inevitably live out his inborn spiteful nature.

            “Here, invisible yet strong, was the taboo of the old life. Round the squatting child was the protection of parents and school and policemen and the law.” (62) The quote shows that the society of Roger’s past life still influences him and how he acts towards the other boys on the island. The lack of civilization on the island has not yet affected Roger at this point, but it is slowly starting to change how he perceives the other boys on the island. Another change in Roger is when there is a lack of civilization at Castle Rock, which leads him to murder Piggy. “Roger, with a sense of delirious abandonment, leaned all his weight on the lever.” (180) This quote reveals Roger’s full transformation into a representation of evilness. It is almost the same scenario as when he throws the rocks at Henry, however, this time it is more intense and there is a resulting death.

            Similarly, Golding confesses that there is evil in everyone, including people that appear to be innocent. Even the most innocent people prefer authority over other living things. It shows that the evil originates within us and that we are born with this character. “He became absorbed beyond mere happiness as he felt himself exercising control over living things” (61) indicates man’s common desire to possess control over other things that are weaker than themselves, in addition to their eagerness to lead and be at the top. This passion signifies that anyone would deceive their peers to access greater power than those around them. Nonetheless, evil does not only exist in someone who is looking for power, but also in someone who attempts to inflict harm on others. “Ralph, carried away by a sudden thick excitement, grabbed Eric’s spear and jabbed at Robert with it.” (114) The quote implies that although Ralph is seen as one of the protagonists of the novel, there is also a kind of destructive nature inside of him. Even though it looks as if he is just playing with Robert, his sudden excitement brings out his real intention for bloodshed. Another quote that describes this is when he feels the “desire to squeeze and hurt was over-mastering.” (115) This can mean that no matter how hard people try to conquer the evil inside of them, they will always bear some evilness, which is an intrinsic part of the human species.  

            The main message Golding is trying to convey through this novel is that when human beings are left to fend for themselves, they tend to resort to primitive savagery. Without proper guidance, society will ultimately perish. This novel criticizes that government as a whole will fail if it does not take into consideration the natural defects of human nature.

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