What does William Golding reveal about human nature in Lord of the Flies?

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sarahc418 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

William Golding experienced first hand the atrocities of World War II, and this experience left him cynical about man's goodness. 

In the novel, as soon as the boys are removed from civilization, they try to preserve society. However, their decorum and civility doesn't last long, and the boys turn savage. Their descent into savagery is best shown threw their appearance and their conduct toward the pigs and beast. After their civility is no longer redeemable, they become so lost that they murder Simon and then Piggy. 

At the beginning of the novel, the conch symbolizes order and power. When the conch shell breaks and Ralph realizes it didn't hold any power anymore anyway, it is a symbol of how the boys have completely strayed from democracy and organized leadership. The double-ended spears are a symbol of savagery and animalistic behavior.

With Roger and Jack at the forefront, readers can see that these boys are evil. However, Golding does not excuse any of the boys besides Simon. Ralph, Samneric and even Piggy are all at fault for losing themselves to their animal instincts. Therefore, Golding's message is that humans are inherently evil. Without society's rules and expectations, people descend into  animalistic behaviors and turn to survival mode. There is no compassion or reasonability at the end of the novel. 

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As was mentioned in the previous post, William Golding reveals humanity's inherent wickedness throughout the novel. Initially, the boys attempt to create a democratic society in order to survive on the island. However, the boys gradually descend into savagery as the novel progresses. The belief in the beast terrifies the boys and causes disorder among them. During Simon's encounter with the Lord of the Flies, Golding reveals the central issue concerning human nature. The Lord of the Flies tells Simon that the beast is inside each boy and cannot be killed. This scene depicts Golding's cynical view of humanity and suggests that humans are inherently wicked. Golding's setting also alludes to the Biblical account of the fall of man, which takes place in the Garden of Eden. The boys go from behaving like obedient, civilized young men to acting like brutal savages. By the end of the novel, Simon and Piggy are dead, and the group of boys is hunting Ralph. Golding believed that humans would behave like primitive savages without the laws, rules, and regulations of a civilized society. 

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Lord of the Flies

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