Is Man Inherently Evil?
Evil is a concept that describes thoughts and acts that are morally wrong and hurtful to others. One of the few things that people all over the world can agree on is that evil is bad and must be rejected. We all know what evil is, as we all know there are good guys and bad guys. What defines if someone is evil? I believe that everyone has there own definition for evil as each human judges others acts in their own way. Although I believe that as humans we can come to agreements on a few things that we all believe are evil. Mr. William Golding author of “The Lord of the Flies” suggests that humans are born evil and are destined to stay evil. This is a very heated topic as there are two sides of the coin, which philosophers like John Locke and Thomas Hobbes have argued about. John Locke was a philosopher in the 17th century who argued man is born neutral and the environment influences whether man becomes evil or not. On the other hand Thomas Hobbes another 17th century philosopher argued that man is naturally born evil and will stay like that. In the novel “The Lord of the Flies” we are exposed to the idea of evil being within each person and as society gets left behind the evil grows stronger.
When one reads the book the “Lord of the Flies”, one of the characters that everyone tends to perceive as being evil is Jack Meridrew. Jack is one of the characters where his evil grows as the ways of society begin to fade. His acts and instincts go from being civilized to barbaric and survival orientated. Jack’s role in this story is to represent the evil that is in all of mankind. He likes to make rules yet continually insists on breaking them for his gain. We begin to sense that something is wrong with Jack when he lets Simon faint in the very beginning of the story. He just merely states, “He’s always throwing a faint.” He shows no concern that one of his choir members has fainted he just dismisses it and says it is usual. That act as a “leader” makes us as the readers feel that Jack has a lack of responsibility and a bad side to him. Jack is a character that develops an obsession with hunting so he can provide meat to the tribe. Killing pigs becomes his only goal and he refuses to help with the other chores. He begins to revert to his old savage ways that society helped to keep deep within him. The true dictator within Jack is revealed when the tribe begins to worry about the “beast”. He tries to revolt against Ralph who was elected chief of the tribe and says, “He’s not a hunter. He’d never have got us meat….. All this talk” He twists what Ralph says and what Ralph did to go against him. He manipulates the minds of others to try and gain their support. He begins to truly show the evil within him. He is sick with the civilized ways and wants to go back to the barbaric ways. After this meeting and statement people start to join his tribe and he begins to go power crazy, as most dictators tend to do. I believe that 2 other points of Jack’s evil is when he kills the sow with his tribe. How can you kill a pig with her babies right in front of you? That is no longer civilized or humane that is barbaric and evil. The other point of evil is when he and two others go into ralphs and piggy’s shelter and beat them to get the glasses. This was unnecessary as Ralph states, “They stole it. We’d have given them fire if they’d asked.” Jack renders Piggy blind and steals his glasses when if they had just asked Ralph for fire he would have shared with them. Theft is overall considered an evil thing to do. This act was just barbaric and not needed.
One of the people that one thinks about and associates with evil is Adolf Hitler. Adolf Hitler was the founder of the Nazi Party, which killed millions of Jews in the Holocaust and caused World War 2. Jack is first introduced to us in the book when
him and his choir emerge from the forest onto the beach. “Something dark was fumbling along. Ralph saw it first, and watched till… Then the creature stepped from mirage” This quote describes how the choirboys were seen from a far. We can perceive that they have a dark imagery behind them. This can be compared to how Hitler emerged with his freikorps into Germany. In both instances they represent an evil force. When Jack and his choir join the other boys there is a democratic election to see who will be leader between Jack and Ralph. Ralph is elected chief and Jack is left to being in charge of his choir. This is similar to Hitler, he tried to rise to power with a coup d’état but was not successful. Jack waits and tries to function within the tribe yet towards the end of the story he revolts. He makes a bold statement and leaves the tribe saying “I’m going off by myself. He can catch his own pigs. Anyone who wants to hunt when I do can come too”. With this statement he dashed out of the camp leaving the boys pondering which tribe would be more beneficial to their needs. He waited for when the boys were looking for a new leader they were fed up about all the rules and frankly wanted to have fun. Jack waited until there was a weakness in Ralph’s power he noticed the other boys were not functioning under Ralph and ran away from the tribe and created a new one where he was chief. He coaxed the other boys in with charm, hunting and the prospect that there would be fewer rules. This is exactly how Hitler eventually took control of Germany. He waited for his turn when people were looking for a new revolution and then he overturned his opposition.
Piggy a character in the book is intellectual and has good reasoning skills. On the other hand he lacks physical appearances and respect among the group. He is the most mature boy out of all the other boys and always tries to preserve some trace of civilized lifestyle. He can’t express his ideas as he always gets shut down by the other boys therefore he expresses his ideas and reasons through Ralph. He acts as Ralph’s right hand man. "Which is better- to be a pack of painted Indians like you are, or to be sensible like Ralph is?" This quote demonstrates the contrasts between the civilities of Ralph and himself compared to Jack and the others. It also demonstrates that he exercises intelligence and reasoning. He is overall a good person and tries to benefit the group were as Jack was always fixed on one task. Piggy tried to make decisions that would better the group as a whole. He always relied on the rules and the conch to retain the essence of society within the boys. Yet sadly when the conch broke and all society was lost so was Piggy. I believe Piggy symbolizes the Jewish people in the Holocaust. Piggy is constantly dehumanized by the other boys especially Jack aka Hitler. He isn’t even referred to by his proper name as the Jews were. He never has a say in things as when he tries to talk with the conch someone usually Jack would try and shut him down. Jack comes up with new comments when Piggy talks but for an example "You’re talking too much…Shut up, Fatty." This quote shows one of the countless times Jack dehumanizes Piggy and just degrades him. Piggy holds on to one thing that he thinks will keep him safe which is the conch. He believes that is a sign of society and civilization. This could be contrasted to how the Jewish people relied on their religion to protect them from the Nazis. Yet sadly in both cases it did not.
In conclusion Mr. William Golding lived through one of the worst wars this world has seen World War II. This war changed his look on man and he noticed the evil in humans and thought how could other humans do this to each other. The people fighting in the war eventually forgot about what they were fighting for and just killed each other because of hatred. With these actions he then came to the conclusion and statement that man is inherently evil. I for one somewhat concur with this statement. Although I believe man is born neutral with evil deep deep within us. According to the situations and environments that man is exposed to, evil either begins to show more or does not come out at all. In other words, I tend to go along with the views of John Locke. I believe evil is within all of us, yet it is our morals, rules, laws, culture, beliefs and society that helps contain evil. The two examples given above illustrate the role that society can play in containing evil. That’s why in societies with strong structure, laws, culture and rules we see less crime than in societies with weaker systems.