Lord of the Flies: The End of Innocence

Regardless of the development of civilization and society’s efforts to reduce guy’s darker side, moral depravity proves both unbreakable and inescapable; contrary to culturally welcomed views of humanistic tendencies towards goodness, each person is vulnerable to his base, inherent instincts. In William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, apparently innocent school children evolve into bloodthirsty savages as the latent evil within them emerges. Their regression into savagery is ironically paralleled by a magnifying fear of evil, and it culminates in several harsh slays along with a crazy manhunt. The graphic effect of the boys’ unrestrained barbarity, highlighted by the background of an external war, exigently explores humanity’s potential for evil.

Dismissing the detonation of an atom bomb and the possible deaths of their parents as merely an “unusual problem” (14 ), the schoolboys selfishly delight in their lavish jungle environments. The frustrating “glamour [which] spread [s] over them” (25) for a short while eclipses their awakening need for supremacy. In the beginning, the young boys express this necessity through the apparently innocuous heaving of rocks and the belittling of Piggy, who is physically inferior. Had these actions occurred in the boys’ English homeland, they would have been accepted as normal, childish behavior. Nevertheless, under the guise of innocent enjoyment, the young boys obtain an unimaginably “violent satisfaction” (18) from “exercising control over living things” (61 ).

Ominously, their craving for power is a presage for the blood that is to be shed. This blood which had at first been so “unbearable” (31) is now lusted after; it obliges Jack and his fans to hunt, since it seduces them with the pledge of killing. Challenged by Ralph’s strong advocation for obligation and order, Jack feels ashamed by his relentless compulsion to “find [quarry] and kill” (51 ). Consequently, he utilizes the need of meat to justify his savage behavior, although there is an abundance of fresh fruit. The need for this reason is prevented when Jack begins to use a mask of paint in order to liberate himself from “embarassment and self-consciousness” (64 ). Moreover, this self-deception allows him to become an “amazing complete stranger” (63 ), capable of entirely deserting any sense of morality or principles.

More blinded by the illusion that their allegedly exceptional English heritage prevents savagery, the young boys ignore the perverse qualities of their actions. However, they end up being terrified as they significantly feel the blight of their own evil upon the island. Attempting to attribute the decay of sanity and civilization to external sources, they fail to look inwards. When Simon properly proposes that the monster is “possibly … just [themselves] (89 ), the others scornfully dismiss him as “batty” (52) and his tip as void; they refuse to acknowledge Simon because they are neither capable nor happy to think the frightening reality that the evil arises from within themselves. As an outcome, the boys manifest their worry in a dead parachutist whose appearance they grotesquely distort. Ironically, this source of worry originates from the magnificent adult world to which they have so long aimed.

Ralph continues to look towards the grownups as the young boys’ sole hope of rescue, uninformed that they” [understand] absolutely nothing of him and [are] in ruins” (62 ); the adults are caught in the massacre of their own war. Only Simon comprehends the universally “heroic and sick” (103) condition of mankind along with the paradoxical nature of the beast. He recognizes that the only thing to be feared is the capacity for evil in everyone, which the blamed source is simply a “safe [yet] terrible” (147) remains. Simon presumes the role of savior as he tries to free the others from their all-conquering worry by delivering the truth. Unfortunately, he is viewed as a “huge and ghastly” (85) monster as he weakly stumbles into the middle of the young boys’ wild craze. With bestial atrocity, Simon is ruthlessly “struck, bit, [and] tor [n] [apart] (153) by the kids who have actually set themselves up as apotheosis of virtue.

Even Ralph, the upholder of civilization and hope, succumbs to the temptation of killing. His participation in Simon’s murder reasserts the “undefinable connection between himself and Jack” (184 ), due to the fact that both are bound by their similar, innermost natures– humanity’s universal potential for evil. Ralph fully understands this after reaching his epiphany. Ironically, this knowledge is a condemnation rather than a liberation, because the understanding of evil will forever stay as a scar upon his mind.

Now that Ralph genuinely comprehends the “darkness of male’s heart” (202 ), he will recognize it in all its types and disguises, falling heir to Simon’s role of the bearer of fact and condemnation. The continuous possibility that he might succumb to internal evil may instill Ralph with a more sense of anxiety and anguish. This torment marks “completion of [his] innocence” (202 ), and Ralph will never be able to return to his previous state of carefree happiness. Just death, the end to each person’s experience of the human condition – the exact same death that liberated Simon and Piggy – can release Ralph from the enlightenment and curse of his insight.

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