Lord of the Flies, a novel by William Golding, reflects upon the very core of human beings. Golding described human beings as innately evil. He also showed readers that all it takes to bring humans’ true nature out is by being in an unknown environment that is free of laws. Being surrounded by mysterious creatures in an unknown land, the stranded boys are left for dead. In the small world without adults, the boys slowly corrupt in to follow their instinct to satisfy their immediate desires.
By being in a microcosm of society with no rules or restriction, the boys begin to seek absolute power. By setting the novel in an island without adults, Golding shows how civilization can quickly deteriorate into savagery. The theme of peace and democracy is thoroughly described in the story when the boys camped out near the beach. At the beginning of the book, it was evident that the boys had an instinct to live peacefully and by the rules in order to avoid chaos. Though some boys created trouble for others, they all obeyed the orders of the leader.
The boys voted for a leader democratically in order to prevent a person from having too much power and by this process, we could see that the boys wanted to be fair in who gets to be the leader. To the boys, the beach symbolizes a second home that can keep them safe from the intimidating island. It was a place where they can catch sight of a ship without interruption and it gave them a higher chance of being rescued. The beach also represents safety and a place where rules protect the boys. All the boys have a sense of civilization in them at the beach and avoid making “wrong” actions.
Even the troublemaker Jack said that they’ve “got to have rules and obey them. After all, we’re not savages. We’re English, and the English are best at everything. So we’ve got to do the right things. ” (Page 59-60) This line from Jack shows that everyone wanted to be “civilized” and developed. They didn’t want to be “savages” since they had an instinct to act righteously and because they didn’t want to degrade themselves as to being savages. However, as the scenery changes, we can see that the boys are slowly becoming blind for power.
A conflict of instincts can be seen when the boys confront in the mountain. Up until now, the boys were living peacefully near the beach. However, as time flowed pass, the boys began to crave to satisfy their other needs. Some began to neglect their duties and went off to play. This sign of neglecting shows the readers that the boys are starting to satisfy their own “desires”. Jack and the other hunters showed signs of corruption when they abandoned their “fire” duty. Although they were given such an important task, they weren’t able to work to Ralph’s expectations.
After a ship has passed by the island, Ralph and Jack conflicted once more. During this confrontation, Jack accidentally destroyed half of Piggy’s glasses. The breaking of Piggy’s glasses symbolizes many things. First of all, it symbolizes that many of the boys are having a conflict between their instinct to live peacefully and their instinct to satisfy their immediate need. Secondly, it represented the turning point of the novel. And finally, the breaking of Piggy’s glasses symbolizes a break in the boys’ teamwork. After this event, a split between Ralph and Jack was evident.
Near the last scenes of the novel, the readers can see that savagery took over civilization. When the hunters turned against Ralph and the little’uns and formed their own group in “Castle Rock”, it showed the readers just how much the hunters have corrupted. Unlike civilized people, the hunters began to paint their faces with blood and began to worship idols in order to celebrate their catch. Another significant change in the hunters is that the hunters wouldn’t hesitate to torture boys that were once friends and family.
At the end of the novel, a huge boulder crushed Piggy. This symbolizes many things. First of all, it shows the readers the change in the hunters. At the beginning of the novel, Roger was a boy that wouldn’t throw a rock straight at a person. However, as the novel progresses, Roger became ruthless and was willing to hurl a boulder at Piggy. Furthermore, Piggy’s death symbolizes the death of an intellect. It shows us that savagery has taken over civilization and that rules will no longer influence the boys anymore.
As the novel processes and the scenery changes, the readers can witness a significant change in the boys’ actions and thoughts. The boys’ actions in the beach and their actions in Castle Rock were significantly different. Unlike their “civilized” self, the unknown environment slowly turned these boys’ mental self and physical self. They became more interested in satisfying their desires than to do the “right” thing. By placing the boys in an island with no adult influence, William Golding shows how the environment changes human beings into savages.