How does the writer explore the corruption of humanity in Lord of the Flies?

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Golding explores the corruption of humanity in Lord of the Flies through his careful characterization of the boys on the island as they struggle to maintain their connection with civilization. 

Jack becomes one of Golding's best character examples of the corruption of humanity.  The allure of hunting and savagery quickly charm Jack into forgetting about his ties to civilization. When he dons the paint of a savage, Jack feels a freedom of self never before experienced in the stifling robes of his choir-boy persona:

He looked in astonishment, no longer at himself but at an awesome stranger. He spilt the water and leapt to his feet, laughing excitedly. Beside the pool his sinewy body held up a mask that drew their eyes and appalled them. (57).

This moment captured by Golding shows how easily Jack's civilized persona has been corrupted by the freedom granted by paint and a mask.  Jack ceases to be himself, a civilized boy from England; the mask transforms him into an "awesome stranger," giving him the freedom to turn away from the restrictions of civilized behavior.  Jack realizes this almost immediately:

"He began to dance and his laughter became a bloodthirsty snarling" (58).

This scene exemplifies how the freedom of island life corrupts the boys, turning them into savages.  Moreover, much attention in Lord of the Flies is given to the boys' collective fear of the beast, but as the novel develops, Golding clearly identifies that the true nature of the beast is the potential for darkness and evil within each one of the boys.  Jack's love for hunting and the power it brings corrupts him, making Jack one of the most evil characters in the novel.


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Lord of the Flies

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