According to the novel, Lord of the Flies are humans inherently good or evil?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Golding set out, in Lord of the Flies, to prove that humans are indeed basically savage and only civilization has made a difference to the way we behave - the need to conform. Lord of the Flies was

an attempt to trace the defects of society back to the defects of human nature.

He believed that, once the rules no longer apply, conflicting human instincts and survival skills will cause man to descend into violence - survival being the only motivator.

Lord of the Flies, ..., essentially explores the dark side of what Golding felt was the true nature of man: evil.

At the same time, Golding does acknowledge that goodness is also present in each person who has the capacity to be

just, virtuous, or kind ...conforms to the moral order of the universe.

but, disillusioned from his experiences of war, even the good characters have a 'dark' side. There is a relativity to it and Ralph and Piggy especially, have the potential not to be swept away by evil. Their experience of it is enough for them to realize that goodness must prevail. Piggy's earlier appeal to Jack

not as a favor . . . but because what's right's right

is ineffectual on Jack as he no longer recognizes

a moral code where law and cooperation is best and killing is wrong.

Simon recognizes evil within us but his attempts - when he is relieved that the beast is not actually 'real' - bring real irony into the story as he still falls victim to this 'beast.'

Even the ultimate 'rescue' is steeped in meaning. As the boys are 'rescued' from the island, what are they returning to? They cannot recapture their lost innocence and they will return to a war-ravaged situation. Ralph, at the end, cries for 

the darkness of man’s heart.

However, to have a concept of everything that has happened, he must have an inherently 'good' side. Evil is so evil that it does not see the good but good can tell the difference!

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Lord of the Flies

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