Man’s Evil Soul in Lord of the Flies

I just finished William Golding’s novel, Lord of the Flies. This novel outlines the lives of boys who have crash landed on a deserted island, where the only adult, the pilot, died in the wreck. They boys start out with a democratic-type society, with electing Ralph as chief. However, Jack, a tyrannical choir boy, splits the community of boys and then even causes the death of two boys on the island. The novel ends by a naval ship arriving on the island, which is now pure destruction:

Ralph looked at him dumbly. for a moment he had a fleeting picture of the strange glamour that had once invested the beaches. But the island was scorched up like dead wood–Simon was dead–and Jack had… The tears began to flow and sobs shook him. He gave himself up to them now for the first time on the island; great, shuddering spasms of grief that seemed to wrench his whole body. His voice rose under the black smoke before the burning wreckage of the island; and infected by that emotion, the other little boys began to shake and sob too. And in the middle of them, with filthy body, matted hair, and unwiped nose, Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true friend called Piggy.

We get, in this last image of the novel, how Golding saw man’s nature: not innocent, dark, and without reason. This seems to be similar to Hobbes’ view of human nature. It also resembles the church’s concept of ‘original sin.’ I don’t want to read too much into the religion of the author, but I can say that Golding seems to be saying that man is evil at his heart. Man lacks innocence. Man’s heart is dark. Man does not possess reason.

Do I agree? Well, I suppose I have a concurring opinion. Yes, we are born totally depraved in sin. However, we are made righteous through the death and resurrection of Christ. Where exactly did Golding stand? I do not know.


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