Essay on Lord of the Flies: What is the “Beast?”

Many kids have a fear when they are younger of a monster under their bed or in their closet. But what does this fear stem from? William Golding presents astonishing answers to this question in the novel “Lord of the Flies.” This novel takes place during a time of war, a group of British schoolboys is shot down over the Pacific, killing the pilot, while many of the schoolboys survive the crash and find themselves deserted on an uninhabited island. They are unattended without adult supervision and have to figure out a way to survive whether it be through civilization or savagery. While exploring the island, the schoolboys come in contact with a fear of a “beast” on the island. The author is striving to convey multiple messages through the beast which can be seen through many different perspectives. The beast could have represented multiple symbolic meanings such as fear, war, or man’s evil nature.

Not long after the boys arrived to the island, they were already showing uneasiness due to the fact that there were no adults with them, or parents. A role of a mother is to comfort the children; Without mothers, the boys are not comfortable which constructs them to be scared. They externalize this fear by creating a fabricated “beast” that is unreal. In document B, the boy with the birthmark is telling all the boys that he saw the beastie as a snake in the trees. Ralph, who has just been voted chief, takes the responsibility an adult would have taken and explains to the boys that there couldn’t be such thing on that island because you can only get those in big countries like Africa or India. He tries to reassure the boys that there is no need to be fearful. The smaller boys, later on, began to retain nightmares about this beast; Consciously they were unfamiliar with the island so they created a fear in their head. This can be related to real life: sometimes kids will stay the night with a friend or family member. Sleeping in another environment can sometimes be bloodcurdling; As the child is trying to fall asleep, they can’t sleep because of some fear, whether it be of the darkness or thinking they see a dark figure in the corner of the room. Golding does a prodigious job of making this story rational and even relatable.

In addition to fear, another symbolic meaning of the beast may be the boys’ perturbation of war. In chapter 6 of Lord of the Flies, Sam and Eric come across a strange figure beneath a parachute upon the mountain. Golding explains that the man under the parachute got there from an air battle, considering this book took place during a time of war. Later that night, Sam and Eric rush to Ralph to tell him they have them “the beast.” According to document C, the word protagonist is another word for the main character of a novel, war plays as an offstage protagonist. This means that in the novel, the author never specified that the man under the parachute was from war. It had to be inferred that the man fell from an air battle, a war, and the boys referred to him as a beast which is what they’ve been afraid of the entirety of the story.

Alternatively, the symbolic meaning of the beast could have also been themselves, or humans evil nature. As time goes on in the book, the boys become more prone to savagery. In document F, Golding refers to "mankind's essential illness.” By this I think she is referring to the boys wanting to kill, both pigs, and now even people. They even mistake Simon for a beast and kill him. And afterwards, the boys did not even act phased seeing Simons dead body laying on the ground. They even sang and danced around his body singing their famous song, “Kill the beast, cut his throat, spill his blood!” Golding uses the beast as a symbol for the savagery that lives in every human being. At first, the beast is unknown to the boys, but they’re still afraid of it; They are afraid of it because they do not know what it is and they are not familiar with the beast living inside each of them. Golding wants to display the idea that every person is essentially evil when they aren’t induced by society to act a certain way.

In conclusion, the beast in “Lord of the Flies” could be representing many different things. Moreover, it could represent fear, such as creating imaginary snakes and monsters within the trees of the unknown island. Conversely, The beast could also represent war, the boys are terrified after finding the man in the parachute who fell from the sky during an air battle. Golding could have also wanted to imply that the beast was man’s evil nature. They use the excuse that they thought Simon was the beast and the boys all kill Simon probably knowing deep down that was Simon. The beast could be represented, depending on perspective, by many different things such as fear, war, or man’s evil nature. The boys were afraid of a beast all along when in the end they realize it was them all along.



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