Two separate illustrations of an animal head and a fire on a mountain

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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Discuss Golding's concept of evil in man's heart in Lord of the Flies.

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The novel charts the descent into savagery of this group of boys. Compare them in Chapter 3, swimming in the lagoon, to Chapter 12, where they are painted savages who have tortured, hunted and killed humans and animals. Yet throughout the novel Golding makes it clear that this loss of innocence and increasing savagery is not something that happens to the children, rather it is a natural response to being in a situation without any parents, adults, or laws to keep their savage inner-core in check. Golding through this novel implies that essentially, for all man's progress, he is still a savage at heart, with an evil core that allows him to commit heinous crimes. Civilisation has not changed the essential evil nature of man.

Perhaps this is most clearly seen in the forest glade that Simon finds in Chapter 3 - a symbol of childhood innocence. This symbol is harshly changed later on in the novel when Simon returns there and finds the sow's head impaled on a stick in the middle of the glade - a forceful image of childhood innocence being overcome by evil. It is this realisation that causes Ralph to weep at the end of the novel: "Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart, and the fall through the air of a true, wise friend called Piggy."

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