Lord of the Flies. The Theme of Human Nature Essay Example


From the beginning of humankind, people have questioned about human nature. Humans are naturally curious about the natural feelings and connections of people. Humanity has created large and complex societies filled with efficient systems to support millions of people, yet humans haven’t solved the mystery of human nature. In the book, Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, the main theme of the book is centered around the idea of human nature. Golding takes a deep dive into the world of human nature by exploring the actions that would occur if young boys are left on an island with no adult supervision. In the novel, Lord of the Flies, author William Golding, believes that human nature is savage and cruel without the guidance of society. This belief about human nature is accurate as humans are born self centered and vicious.

The novel, Lord of the Flies, is centered around the idea of human nature. Golding, takes a clear stand point that he views human nature as savage and ferocious. The story is centered around boys between the ages of 6 to 12, who have their plane crash on a remote island. The boys have to survive many long days on an island, without adult supervision. On the island, the boys create a hierarchy system in which the older boys become more powerful than the younger boys. The group elects a leader named Ralph, who guides the island along with another older boy named Jack. Throughout the story, Ralph and Jack have to deal with several conflicted issues that puts the island into chaos.

These disputes cause Ralph and Jack to create two different groups on the island. Ralph’s group focuses on getting rescued from the island, while Jack’s group are hunters. William Golding portrays that human nature is cruel and evil throughout the book. In the novel, the boys begin killing pigs as a source of food after they get exhausted of eating fruit. Shortly after Jack and the other boys kill their first pig, they begin to find that killing pigs is an amusing activity. “The desire to squeeze and hurt was over-mastering” (Golding 115). This piece of evidence describes how Golding believes that the boys are beginning to refer back to their innate natural instincts. The boys find killing pleasing because their natural instincts are grim and ferocious according to Golding. By this point in the novel, the boys have been away from society for enough time that there original human nature of savagery is setting in on them. Golding believes that the boys need to fulfill their requirements of their innate natural instincts by hurting and killing. 

In the novel, another issue that the English school boys have to face is an imaginary monster called the beast. The beast is created by the fears and terrors of the children on the island. One day, Simon, an older boy who provides structure to the island in the beginning of the novel, decides to take a walk around the island after the split of Ralph and Jack’s groups.

During his walk, he notices Jack’s group of hunters leaving a pig head on the ground to honor the beast. Once Jack’s group leaves, the head begins talking to Simon as a figure known as the Lord of the Flies. “Fancy thinking the beast was something you could hunt and kill!’ said the head. For a moment or two the forest and all the other dimly appreciated places echoed with the parody of laughter. ‘You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you? Close, close, close! I’m the reason why it’s no go? Why things are what they are’” (Golding 143). This evidence describes how the beast symbolises the darkness of human nature. The beast is a major fear of the children on the island, however, none of the boys on the island have seen the beast. The children fear the beast because they were taught by society to be civilized and well mannered, not cruel or savage. The beast is not something that cannot be killed, which represents how Golding believes that people can never cleanse their innate human nature.

Golding’s view of human nature is correct because without guidance from civilization humans are inherently self centered and savage. As children grow older, they learn from their parents and society to be less self absorbed and more well mannered. The first piece of evidence to prove that human nature is cruel is in the essay “Why Boys Become Vicious” by William Golding, it describes how children are born with an innate human nature to be cruel and evil. In the essay, Golding describes how when children are orphaned, they do not have the proper guidance from society. In return, they turn out to be vicious. “We are told that in some parts of Britain today there are new gangs of children-offspring of an underclass that seems to reject conventional parenting. Without the support of mothers and fathers such children have nothing but the fruits of what they can beg and steal” (Golding).

This piece of evidence proves that without proper guidance from society, humans are and will continue to be cruel and grim. Orphaned children, who do not have the correct counsel from civilization, turn out to be ferocious and self centered. Unlike orphaned children, youth who receive information from society are taught how to have good moral values. People must be taught to have positive views on other humans. Golding also reports how if children fail to get taught by society, they will retreat to their innate natural instincts. “If parents are absent, if fathers do not provide strength and mothers do not provide love, the children will plumb the depths of their nature” (Golding). This piece of evidence demonstrates that for children to become well mannered and civilized, they need advice and instruction from their parents and civilization. Without the correct guidance from society, people will rely back into their human nature of selfishness. Humans are born self absorbed as they need and want to focus on their own survival. When parents and society counsel children, they will begin thinking of others. 

Some people may say that human nature is good and kind, however, this is not true. Human nature is brutal and vicious. In “Id, Ego and Superego” by Saul Mcleod, the article describes the different aspects of the human psyche. These different personality levels explain why children begin their life as being selfish, but as they age they become less self centered. There are three stages to Freud’s idea of human development. The first level is known as id. “The id is the impulsive (and unconscious) part of our psyche which responds directly and immediately to the instincts. The personality of the newborn child is all id and only later does it develop an ego and super-ego” (Mcleod). The next phase of the human psyche is the ego. “The ego operates according to the reality principle, working out realistic ways of satisfying the id’s demands, often compromising or postponing satisfaction to avoid negative consequences of society.

The ego considers social realities and norms, etiquette and rules in deciding how to behave” (Mcleod). The final level of Freud’s psyche structure is the superego. “The superego’s function is to control the id's impulses… It also has the function of persuading the ego to turn to moralistic goals rather than simply realistic ones and to strive for perfection” (Mcleod). Freud’s level of human psyche proves that humans are born naturally self centered because when people are born, there personality is controlled by the self inflicted id. The id does not care about the needs of other people, but rather the wants of itself. The id will go great lengths to ensure that it is getting the things that it wants. This causes children to be selfish and savage. As children get older, they learn from society to be less self absorbed. This causes mental development in their ego and superego, which are the less self inflicted parts of  a person’s personality. This causes adults to appear less savage than children. Another piece of evidence to disprove that innate human nature is good is the “Stages of Moral Development” by Lawrence Kohlberg. In the “Stages of Moral Development” Kohlberg describes how there are different stages of moral growth. As the stages increase, the moral levels become more complex and accepting of other people. The first level is what all humans start out as when they are younger.

There moral values are controlled by this level. “At this level, the child is responsive to cultural rules and labels of good and bad, right or wrong, but he interprets the labels in terms of either the physical or hedonistic consequences of action” (Kohlberg). This evidence from the text proves that humans are not born pleasant because they are born in the preconventional level of moral development. When humans are born, they are selfish as they cannot think outside of the first stage of moral development. It is not people's choice to be born self inflicted, but rather their own natural instincts trying to allow them to survive. If humans were born less self absorbed then they would have a decreased chance of survival as they would not focus on their own needs as much. All humans are born in this stage, and until society can teach them to be less self centered, they remain in this level of selfishness.

As proven, Golding believes that human nature at its core is brutal and savage. This is correct as humans are born with the natural tendencies to be self absorbed. Humans are born thinking about their needs, not the needs of others. As children grown up, they are guided by society to be less selfish and savage. Children are taught how to be more well mannered as there human psyche developes. Determining the answer behind human nature can lead to major reconstruction to systems in society. If we adapt to the needs of human nature, then civilization has the ability to become more complex and function more efficiently. Civilization has much potential hidden away, however, that potential could be unlocked through the secrets of human nature.

 

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