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William Golding, in his novel The Lord of the Flies, is addressing a debate over human nature and morality.
Three philosophical positions are relevant to the novel. The first is Calvinism, a form of Christianity that argues that humans are totally depraved, and only good or saved through divine grace in the form of Jesus Christ. A similarly pessimistic view of human nature can be seen in the work of Hobbes, who argues that human life is "nasty, brutish, and short" and that it is only the power of civilization manifested in Leviathan (government) that forces us to behave in a moral manner. On the opposing side, Rousseau believes that humans are naturally good, and that civilization is a corrupting force.
Lord of the Flies appears to take the Hobbesian position that when all constraints of civilization are removed, children are evil and violent rather than good. On the other hand, Simon and Piggy are both good characters, Ralph moderately good, and only Jack and the hunters behave evilly. Moreover, there is a question of whether the ethos of the hunters might be a residue of the hazing and sporting ethos of British schools rather than pure nature. Thus we might say that Golding's view is complex and ambivalent.
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