What exactly is the BEAST in the novel Lord of the Flies?  What does it symbolize? Explain.

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lfawley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Beast is built up to be a physical personification of evil. It is treated as a God-like monster who is given sacrifices and offerings, and it is feared by the boys. What we ultimately come to realize, however, is that there is no beast. At least, the beast does not exist in a literal, physical, living and breathing sense of the word. Instead, the beast represents the potential for evil that exists within all of us. As the boys become more and more savage, as they give in to what Golding presents as natural, basic instincts that have been tamed by civilization, the role of the beast becomes More evident. Essentially, what Golding is telling us is that the more savage we become, the stronger the beast within us becomes because it is a self-created and self-perpetuating evil.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is, of course, not really any beast.  The beast is something that is within the boys.

In my opinion, the beast symbolizes the evil that is inside of each one of us.  Only Simon realizes that the beast is within them, though.

If you look at the story, you can kind of see how this is. The beast only comes to exist because the boys believe in it.  The more they believe in it, the more savage they become.  By the end of the book, they have made the beast into something of a god and are leaving sacrifices to it.  This shows us how strong evil and savagery have become (the hunters win, Piggy is dead, etc).

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Lord of the Flies

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