How does William Golding show evil at work in Lord of the Flies?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It is a tribute to Golding's art that his inclusion of evil into "The Lord of the Flies" is as insidious as evil is in real life. For, with the removal of the trappings of civilization--the primeval island and absence of adults as representative of civilization--the inconspicuous proceedings of evil subtlely enter in Chapter I as Jack Merridew, the leader of the choir, appears:

tall, thin, and bony [with] red hair beneath the black cap...[and a] face crumpled and freckled and ugly without silliness. Out of his face stared two light blue eyes, frustrated now and turning, or ready to turn to anger.

Jack is charismatic in a cruel way. Ordering the choir to stand, they are "wearily obedient." Soon, Jack asserts himself with "arrogance": "'I ought to be chief,' Thus begins the conflict between good in the character of Ralph and evil in the character of Jack in Golding's allegory. And, as long as the vestiges of society remain in the forms of order as directed by Ralph and reason as proposed by Piggy, the boys remain controlled.

However, when fear and doubt enter their minds, evil is able to begin its subtle operation to grave effects. Because of their isolation from society, their primal needs supercede the reasonable goal of being rescued.  And, their fears make them susceptible to Jack's evil persuasions. Giving their fear form, the boys imagine having seen a "beast." It is only Simon who intuitively knows that this is the evil within them, so Jack declares that there is no beast, realizing he can control them by capitalizing on their fear.  Against this manipulative power of Jack, the flawed Ralph, who "cannot  think as well as Piggy," and Piggy, who is physically flawed, fail in their control of the boys.

danylyshen's profile pic

danylyshen | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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Golding uses his novel to demonstrate the evil and darkness that may lurk beneath the surface of the human psyche. He does this primarily with the thoughts, speech, and actions of Jack, Ralph, Piggy, Simon, and the worst of the lot, Roger. Golding uses Jack and Roger primarily in this task since Jack is the leader of the hunters and Roger his number one croney who is a natural sadist and evil-doer. Before Roger topples the rock which kills Piggy, and participates in the fire-side slaughter of Simon, Roger delights in throwing rocks at the other boys and other such maliciousness. Other ways
Golding demonstrates evil at work include the worshipping of a "false idol" (the lord of the flies) and how the boys all polarize to the stronger group even though that group stands for killing and murder.

Please see the great Enotes LOTF theme page here.

joedibartolo's profile pic

joedibartolo | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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golding firsts presents evil in lord of the flies in jack which is odd as jack is the leader of the choir which represents god and happyness by doing this he helps show how even the purest of souls can be taken by evil when in a situation where there is no right or wrong also golding carrys on showing the evil through roger which in the novel kills piggy as he is alter ego furthermore roger is feeding jack with evil also roger is pure evil it is like he has no soul as when he pushes the rock on to piggy he did no show any emotions also the evil in roger started to show quite early in the novel by chucking stones at the little-uns when they are building sand castles but roger is not hitting them with the stones he is chucking them close to them to get some fear of the little-uns so he would get a sense of power 

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