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Good And Evil In Lord Of The Flies By William Golding

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“Good and evil” is the most common dichotomy in studies related to ethics, religion and philosophy. There is no holy scriptures that does not talk about good and evil. It is the most prevalent topic of ethics and philosophies. Though they are the main concepts of moral studies there is no definite meaning for both good and evil, whatever things that doesn’t harm any living and non- living things are good while evil is the exact opposite of it. Good things will make the creations of God happy and also the God himself but evil things will never do any favour for fellow creatures. Evil is also represents immorality and malignity as it is against the moral values of world ethics.

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Both Good and evil are mutually dependant. Both of them will not exist without each other. This is because; one will never know what is good without the existence of bad and the same goes for evil. Some critics have claimed that these two are mutually exclusive and they have no connection with each other which means good survive in its own way so does evil. But the question here is how could one differentiate what is good and what is evil without the existence of each other? Because in the absence of good there is nothing as evil could expose itself and everything will remain neutral.

One of the most typical orthodox themes in literature is the battle between “good and evil”. William Golding exercises the same as one of his main themes of his very first novel Lord of the Flies. Being a believer of Christianity he made use of some motifs of Christianity like “fall” in his books. Inclusion of violence, cruelty, dark myth with moral values in his work Lord of the Flies is the plot developer. He also believes in “fall of man due to his past mistakes and disobedience”. So he included this in Lord of the Flies but in a varied sense like how Adam and Eve entered the Garden of Eden with purity and innocence but because of their disobedience their innocence and purity vanished and they fall to the earth as sinned human beings. The same way the twelve year old kids set foot in the Island with angelic faces with pure heart but later their silly mistakes which slowly turn into greater crimes and covet for power make them lose innocence completely. It does not mean that all of them become savages and some of them turns into the victims of the corrupted society.

JACK VERSUS RALPH

The two representatives of good and evil in the book Lord of the Flies are Ralph and Jack respectively. Ralph characterizes righteousness while Jack characterizes evilness. They are like opposite poles occupying complete opposite positions, having different opinions and are totally against each other. They start off as good friends but gradually grow hate for each other because of their variation in opinions and actions. The actual story starts with the election held for selecting the leader and Ralph gets majority votes to be the leader.

“Him with the shell”

“Ralph! Ralph!”

“Let him be the chief with the trumpet thing”

Ralph raised a hand for silence

“All right. Who wants Jack for chief?”

With dreary obedience the choir raised their hands.

“Who wants me?”[19]

Every hand outside the choir except Piggy was raised immediately. Then Piggy, too, raised his hand grudgingly into the air.

Ralph counted.

“I’m chief then” [20]

During the voting session, majority of the boys choose Ralph as their chief, thinking he could make a perfect leader and also will plan for their rescue. This makes Jack Merridew feel little so he himself suggested being the leader for hunters which is actually a group of choir boys. He cleverly insert in the minds of the boys that they are hunters who enjoy seeing blood, flesh and they should dedicate themselves for hunting. This action of him itself shows that Jack is not a suitable leader because he is making people go in a wrong way. Golding portrays Ralph as the qualified one to be the leader while Jack lacks the leadership quality though he is the head for choir aka hunters. Jack is not bad from the beginning but his inner thirst for power and dominance lead him to choose the wrong path. He also makes the others to join his path of violence. Ralph uses his smartness and practical knowledge while Jack always uses violence and savagery to attain what he desire. Though they begin as friends unknowingly they become enemies with mutual hate for each other.

The first ever controversy between Jack and Ralph happen when Jack took SamnEric for hunting and the fire went out as they were the one who is in charge for the fire. Also the most awaited thing for Ralph is ruined because of that; at the same time Jack’s dream to hunt pigs is fulfilled on the same day. It is the first win for evilness and loss for morality.

“You and your blood, Jack Merridew! You and your hunting! We might have gone home-”

Ralph pushed Piggy on one side.

“I was chief; and you were going to do what said. You talk. But you can’t even build huts- then you go off hunting and let out the fire” [76]

This is the stage where Jack starts to supress Ralph and his power. Though he is the chief he constantly has to remind Jack in every chance he got that he has power and they should listen to him. However Jack’s dominance over the situation makes the issue change in a different way; more like favourable for him.

PIONEER OF EVIL

If it were not for Jack then there would be neither evilness nor violence in the Island. He may not be the head of the group but the head of all the evil things happen there. He and his evilness are very toxic slowly spreads among others, bewitching them to join his clan of brutal hunting. He despises everyone who is not the part of his ideals, especially Ralph, Simon and Piggy. So he and his tribe knowingly or unknowingly murders Simon and Piggy in the cruellest way and also plans to kill Ralph as a sacrifice for the beast.

“The Chief and Roger-“

“Yes, Roger-”

“They hate you, Ralph. They are going to do you”

“They are going to hunt you to-morrow” [214]

Everyone turned against Ralph. They are in process to take Ralph’s life; even Samneric could not help him because of their fear for Jack and his boys. However Ralph escapes the danger when he is rescued by the Deus ex machine who is in the form of naval officer. In the end, Ralph the only good one remains alive as Piggy and Simon already dead leaving him alone in the evil filled society.

SYMBOL OF PURITY- SIMON

William Golding portrays Simon as a symbol of purity in the novel. Golding suggests that “evil” is not the complete intention of men, but time and circumstances convince men to use it as a weapon to accomplish their goals and sometimes it may go worse causing unpleasant consequences.

Being a religious person he includes some religious myths in his works and in the selected novel Lord of the Flies, he present Simon as a reflection of Jesus Christ. Simon is the only exceptional individual in the Island in terms of inherent evilness. He is devoid of every unholy deed, so he finds himself always alone both physically and mentally. Owing to that he finds out the biggest mystery in the minds of everyone there; that is what everyone believes to be a beast is not really a beast but just a dead man. Here Golding refers beast in a symbolic way that there is nothing like beast exist in the Island but passively prevails inside of every human being. Only Simon realizes this and on the way to disclose the truth he is killed not as Simon but as a monstrous beast. The painful part of the scene is; the tribe continues to attack him even after realizing him to be Simon. He also warned by the Lord of the Flies of his tragic end if he try to confess the truth. Likewise he suffer a barbarous demise the same as Jesus Christ’s. Simon’s death is also demonstrates the termination of rectitude and virtuousness and the origination of the wicked world.

Although Piggy and Ralph are good people, in the case of Simon’s death they are more like indirect murderers. They didn’t stop the crime just because they were scared of the hunters. In fact, they did not care to look at what the boys were ferociously attacking. But when they happen to find Simon’s lifeless body; they give excuses like they were scared and it was all an accident.

“It was an accident”, said Piggy suddenly, “that’s what it was. An accident. ” His voice shrilled again. “Coming in the dark- he had no business crawling like that out of dark. He was batty. He asked for it. ” [177]

They didn’t even mourn for his death and the worse from Piggy’s mouth that Simon deserve those because he unnecessarily came out of the dark like a beast. It is not at all fair for Simon and his death is unjustified. His own friends killed him

INNATE GOOD AND EVIL IN MEN

William Golding’s point of view is that both good and evil are inherent in all human beings. But what they chose to practice; whether good or evil in any kind of situation is the most significant thing. No individual will choose entirely good or entirely bad and always there will be confusion in choosing, in the mind. Sometimes circumstance dominates the whole thing and it will decide whether good or evil will be present in that particular situation. Similarly in the novel Lord of the Flies, twelve year old kids stranded on a lonely island, enjoying everything there, without the naggings of grownups. And it’s all only in the beginning because later they pushed to the real struggle of life called survival. In order to survive themselves they choose different ways. Some choose evil dark path and the remaining choose moral ways which cause the conflict between good and evil in the story.

The innocent kids changes their nature with time and eventually gets supressed under the influence of their evilness. Even Jack Merridew is not a bad kid to begin with but eventually becomes the pioneer of evilness in the island. Jack’s inherent barbarous nature slowly knocked everything down including the peace of the island, the littleuns’ playfulness, the innocence of the kids and most importantly the lives of Simon and Piggy. These two didn’t do anything wrong; just wanted to be rescued and did everything possible for it but all in vain they just lost their lives in the hands of evil.

Jack’s supporting hands are Roger and Maurice. They blindly follows Jack and his rules. The two are too bad that they torture others even little kids. In fact they are the one responsible to take care of the helpless kids who are far away from their parents but instead they prefer to make fun of the kids and use variety of methods to hurt them without any mercy. One day three of the littleluns Henry, Percival and Johnny were playing by building castles in the sand next to the little river. While playing they forgot their stranded state in the island and were happily playing. But it did not last long as the two bigguns Roger and Maurice came there after finishing their duties. Roger kicked the castle, scattering everything and Maurice joined Roger in the destructive action.

Roger and Maurice came out of the forest. They were relieved from duty at the fire and had come down for a swim. Roger led the way straight through the castles, kicking them over, burying the flowers, scattering the chosen stones. Maurice followed, laughing, and added to the destruction. [63]

Of all the boys in Jack’s team, Roger is the most malevolent person. Though Jack is the reason for all the evil happenings in the island, Roger is more outrageous than Jack. He is like a right hand for Jack. He does not hesitate to do any brutish action. Moreover, he is the one who murdered Piggy. Once Ralph and Piggy comes to the Castle Rock to reconcile with the tribe and to get Piggy’s glasses back. But the boys are not the same ones who they once knew. They really changed a lot. They strongly believe they are tribes and they are not ready to give up their label. So the words of Piggy and Ralph really irritated them.

The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee; the conch exploded into thousand white fragments and ceased to exist. Piggy, saying nothing, with no time for even a grunt, travelled through the air sideways from the rock, turning over as he went. Piggy fell forty feet and landed on his back across that square, red rock in the sea. His head opened and stuff came out and turned red. [206]

Suddenly out of rage Roger levers a massive rock forward. Ralph seeing the rock move aside and unfortunately Piggy becomes the target. Piggy painfully dies in front of the tribe and Ralph. No one expected that tragic incident even Roger gets shocked by the result of his intentional action. Piggy’ death is so sudden and indigestible for Ralph. He ignored him almost all the time but realizing that he will not be with him in the future to get through the battle of survival makes Ralph really feel helpless.

Ralph sees the island slowly turning into a society filled with nothing but evilness, violence, bloodshed, etc. He could not do anything to prevent the bad things from happening. There is no grownup to advise them so they are free to do whatever they want. So if there is no right person to guide people in a right way then it will become a chance for society of evil to take up their rule. He is desperate for help. He wishes for someone to take him home. He never did any wrong deeds intentionally, didn’t agreed to live as a tribe even after convinced many times and held strongly to his moral values. He lost his two wise friends but secured his own life for the sake of good. And finally he gets rescued by a naval officer who comes there after seeing the fire made by Jack and his crew.

Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy. [230]

Like a saying “there will be a good in bad and bad in good” Ralph gets rescued by the action of the boys to burn him to death. But Ralph doesn’t want be saved alone after all the sufferings and tears. So he tells everything happened in the island to the officer so he could rescue all of them. Finally everyone gets to go home but Ralph is happy and sad at the same time because he would be so relieved if Simon and Piggy also with him in the joyful moment of their rescue. They bid farewell to the island and its dark memories. Finally the evilness prevailed in the island comes to end and everything is back to normal.

31 October 2020

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