Explain Golding's ideas about the beast and how the beast is presented in the novel Lord of the Flies.

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the beginning of the novel, the beast is presented as a figment of the boys' imaginations. The littlun with the mulberry-colored birthmark describes it as a "snake-thing." Golding uses the "snake-thing" to allude to the serpent in the Garden of Eden found in the Old Testament. The beast is symbolic of the inherent evil found in human nature. Each character has their own interpretation of the beast's true identity. While Ralph, Jack, and Piggy dismiss the idea of an actual beast on the island, only Simon has the insight to understand the true nature of the beast. Simon suggests that the beast is the inherent wickedness present in each individual.

In Chapter 6, a dead paratrooper is shot out of the sky. The paratrooper's descent towards the island alludes to Lucifer's fall from heaven. Golding also uses the dead paratrooper to represent the physical manifestation of evil on the island. Samneric are the first to spot the grotesque looking corpse and mistake the dead man for the beast. After explaining to the boys what they witnessed, Jack leads his band of hunters on an expedition to find the beast. Jack ends up killing a pig and leaving its head on a stake as a sacrifice to the beast.

In Chapter 8, Simon hallucinates and speaks with the Lord of the Flies, whose name translates to Beezlebud in Hebrew. The Lord of the Flies tells Simon,

"There isn't anyone to help you. Only me. And I'm the Beast...Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!...You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you? Close, close, close! I'm the reason why it's no go? Why things are what they are?" (Golding 143).

Simon was correct in his assumption that the beast was inside of each boy on the island. After Simon spots the dead paratrooper, he attempts to share the news with the boys but is tragically mistaken for the beast and brutally murdered.

Throughout the novel, Golding suggests that humans are inherently wicked and evil. He uses the concept of a beast on the island as a symbol to represent evil. The only reason individuals do not murder and pillage on an everyday basis is because there are societal restrictions and laws in place that prevent people from acting out their violent predisposed behaviors.

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Lord of the Flies

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