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There are many things that can bring out the beast that lies inside us all. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, is a novel about how a group of schoolboys survive on a deserted island, stranded with no adults after their plane has crashed. In Lord of the Flies, throughout the novel, William Golding teaches us that in terrible situations the majority of civilisation will open up to the evil and savagery that has always existed inside us. This change is shown not only in the boys but also in the island itself. Throughout the development of the story you see how the once innocent and civilized boys turn cruel and savage. The island that was once a place of beauty and peace, just like the boys, becomes a corrupt and scary place. One of the most cruel and savage men in history, Adolf Hitler, being responsible for the deaths of millions in the Holocaust, resembles the boys savageness in many ways. Much like the boys and Hitler, the Khmer rouge regime was also very cruel, causing many deaths in the Cambodian genocide.
The boys are the main representation of corruption in the novel. The darkness and evil inside you does not just take over, you have to let go of all light and give in to be taken over. In Chapter Eight of the novel, Jack decides he has had enough of Ralph being chief and goes off to make his own tribe. Ralph, and the few boys left that had not yet been corrupted, were the only ones left at their site. All of the other boys, the savages, went with Jack to his new tribe. In the beginning, Ralph would have been fine with following Jack and fooling around all day. They voted Ralph as their chief and so their chief he became. As chief he had to mature and make good decisions for everyone. The others, they chose fun and so they went with Jack and they made that choice to let the darkness in. They decided Jack’s way was the one they prefered, no matter how dark it may be. In the first night of leading a tribe, Jack gets Simon killed. This is the night when the ones who had not submitted fully to the darkness were taken over. They kicked, punched and, in the words of William Golding, “At once the crowd surged after it, poured down the rock, leapt on to the beast, screamed, struck, bit, tore. There were no words, and no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws.” Simon went there to tell them that the beast was not a thing, but that it was them, their darkness. But the beast came out and took over the little light those boys had left and killed the only one who knew the truth. Ralph, the protagonist of the novel, is one of the only boys still alive who stays civilized throughout everyone else’s cruelty. In chapter 12, Ralph is the only one who has not become a part of Jack’s corrupt tribe of savages. Everyone had either joined him willingly, been forced or, in Simon and Piggy’s case, killed. Since Ralph wouldn’t join Jack he knew he “would never let him alone; never”. Samneric were the ones who had told Ralph, “‘They hate you, Ralph. They’re going to do you.” “They’re going to hunt you to-morrow.” Ralph, knowing he was probably going to die that day, hid in some bushes near their tribe. The savages started hunting him and they did not stop. They destroyed the bush he was hiding in, they chased him and they even set the forest on fire. They did not care what that fire might do to the island, all they wanted was for Ralph to die. Ralph was the only one left who had not yet given in too his darkness, he was the last bit of light left on that Island.
The island was beautiful, peaceful and light but just like the boys it became corrupt, a scary place where no one dares to go out into the darkness. As the boys got more savage the island started darkening too. In the beginning Simon had found a little clearing, it was the representation of peace on the island:
“He squatted down, parted the leaves and looked out into the clearing. Nothing moved but a pair of gaudy butterflies that danced round each other in the hot air. Holding his breath he cocked a critical ear at the sounds of the island. Evening was advancing towards towards the island; the sounds of the bright fantastic birds, the bee-sounds.
That clearing that Simon had once found peace in changed into the place that had the most darkness of all, the beast. Simon goes back to the clearing in chapter 8 where the savages had placed the pig head as a offering for the beast. When he is in the clearing he starts having hallucinations, the pig head starts talking to him, saying things like, “Aren’t you afraid of me?”[…]“Fancy thinking the beast was something you could hunt and kill!”[…]“I’m part of you?. Simon’s place of peace had transformed into a place of darkness and cruelty just like the boys were transforming from their once innocent selves to a new version, a more savage version. Another example of the corruption of the clearing is in the last chapter, Ralph is being hunted and stumbles across it. He goes out into the middle where the pig head is and it is smiling at him, not a nice smile, a evil, disturbing smile that would send shivers running up your spine. The island is like Ralph’s personal hell, doing whatever it can to make his stay as miserable as possible. When Jack and his savages are hunting him, Ralph is constantly being thrown new obstacles by the island. First he thinks he has found a great spot to hide but the savages, with the help of some island boulders, start destroying the bushes.The savages try smoking him out with fire but Ralph manages to escape. The island is roaring with flames as Ralph tries to find a hideout but even once he does they find him again. Even from the moment he got there it was harming him. He tries to climb up the mountain when he spots the ship and gets cut by all the bushes, “Ralph started to run, he was battling with complex undergrowth […] He did desperate violence to his naked body among the rasping creepers so that blood was sliding over him.” This reveals that people are not the only ones that can be corrupted.
In the novel Lord of the Flies Jack and his savages had opened up to there darkness that had always existed inside them, causing the island to engulf in darkness as well. In the novel you see how power and leadership in the wrong hands creates chaos and how ruthless one can become when given that power. We learn that the darkest, most savage things in this world are humans. We create havoc and chaos wherever we go even if we do not mean to. We use our darkness to survive, to hide our pain, to hold ourselves together but in reality it is the one thing that is tearing us apart.
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