Human nature and why people act the way they do has long been debated throughout circles of the most advanced scholars, but it is in a novel about a group of boys stranded on a island that one of the most accurate portrayals of human nature is seen. In the novel Lord of the Flies by William Golding, the idea that human nature is primitive, and that every human has the capability to become beasts is a central theme.
Golding proves through his characters and their decisions that human goodness is only possible because of society, and when we are stripped to our lowest selves it is humans who become the beast that they fear. This is proven by Golding’s character Simon. Simon is the first character to see the so called beast as not a mythical creature, but as a component of human nature. When he is speaking to the group of boys he says, “What I mean is..
. maybe it’s only us” (Golding 73). This quote proves that, from his experiences of hunger, and violence on the island, Simon is starting to realize that the beast isn’t real. This is further proven by his talks with the the “Lord of the Flies,” where he is explicitly told “Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill! .
. . You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you?” (Golding 137). Simon is central to the idea that humans are innately evil. The way Simon’s story ends, as he is practically torn apart by the other boys, further shows that everyone has the capacity to be evil, and it is exacerbated by tough situations. Another character who shows how human nature is primitive is Jack the leader of the Hunters. Jack starts out as a straitlaced choir boy, but quickly descends into the savagery that is the island.
He becomes the leader of the hunters, and creates a strong hold over the other boys forcing them to become like him. Jack’s true nature is shown the first time the boys manage to kill a pig and he says, “Kill the pig, cut her throat, spill the blood” (Golding 152). This shows how fast Jack has let his true primitive nature take him over, and since this cry becomes a rally to the other boys whenever they kill a pig, it shows how human nature is to be violent. Since the first days of being away from civilization Jack has shown that when there are no expectations of behavior, your true nature can be very strong.
The quote, “Jack began to dance and his laughter became a bloodthirsty snarling” again highlights Jack primitive behavior, and shows Golding’s point of true human nature being controlled by society (Golding 33).The truest symbol of human nature in Lord of the Flies is the Beast, or the Lord of the Flies. At the beginning the Beast is nothing more than a figment of the boys imagination, with them making up stories of a “snake-thing” and “beastie” (Golding 32,34). But later on with Simon’s conversations with the pig head on a stick, we learn that the beast isn’t something you can see, it’s something that is inside us all. The Beast tells Simon that there is no way to hunt and to kill him, and says, “There isn’t anyone to help you. Only me.
And I’m the Beast” (Golding 137). This shows that the Beast inside the boys is winning, and no one can overcome their true nature. The only character who seems to realize that there is no real beast is Piggy, “I know there isn’t no beast .
. . but I know there isn’t no fear, either” (Golding 49).
Piggy says this as he is talking to Ralph about the fear of the other boys, and even though he realizes that the Beast is nothing tangible, he too falls victim to it many times in the novel. The group of boys do many terrible things to fight the supposed beast but never truly realize that it is the violence of human nature that they need to be fighting. The Beast represents the primitive nature inside every human, and hilights what humans will do to fight it. Human nature is inherently primitive, and Lord of the Flies shows how easily this can switch to evil. A group of civilised boys completely giving into the beast inside them proves that it is civilization that keeps us from becoming evil. Inside every human is the capability to become like Jack, Ralph, Piggy, and all the other boys who were stranded on the island. As Ralph, “wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and… the true, wise friend called Piggy” we too weep for the realization that all men are in fact dark, and that it is the true nature of all humans.