english literature

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Lord of the flies the beast

The novel Lord of the Flies revolves around a group of school boys who land on a deserted island and their experience of living in the wild. The beast is an important character in the novel, and I am going to explore how Golding uses ‘the Beast’ in the novel. The beast symbolizes the innate evil that is found to exist in every human being.

The imaginary beast that frightens all the boys stands for the primal instinct of savagery that exists within all human beings. Talk of a dangerous presence emerged on the very first day on the island, when a little boy with a mulberry-coloured birthmark on his face informed everyone of a "beastie," which he apparently saw on the previous night. At the time, this was dismissed by the older boys as his imagination, but even at that early stage it was evident that the younger children were troubled by the little boy’s words. At the same time it is obvious that Golding uses the early chapters in the book to set the scene for the chaos and terror of the beast that follows. It was also apparent that nobody was willing to admit this, but the fact that many boys now cried out in their sleep or had terrible nightmares is further proof that they were all fearful of a beast. The boys are afraid of the beast, but only Simon reaches the realization that they fear the beast because it exists within each of them. As the boys grow more savage, their belief in the beast grows stronger. By the end of the novel, the boys are leaving it sacrifices and treating it as a totemic god.

The boys’ behavior is what brings the beast into existence, so the more savagely the boys act, the more real the beast seems to become.Especially, the hunters, who have a savage and bloodthirsty instinct in them, ‘the beast’ symbolize this innate evil in all human beings. The beast is a symbol that is present throughout the novel, but surprisingly its form shifts and changes. First of all, they thought that the beast existed in the choir, and then they thought it was a snake that emerged from the water every night. A littlun proposed this idea and then Simon contradicted this idea by saying that the beast exists in all of us. Then, the beast’s form changed again when Simon went deeper into the forest and found the impaled sow’s head and in agony ran back to the shore, where, he was brutally murdered by the hands of his own friends. In this book, the beast is worshipped as a totemic god, sacrifices are left for it, and an example of this is the sow’s decapitated head.

Only Simon reaches to a realization that they fear the beast because it exists in all of them. In chapter 5, Simon says “What I mean is . . . maybe it’s only us”, during this meeting, one littlun proposes that the beast hides in the water during the day and emerges only in the night, all of the boys argue if the beast actually exists. Simon, on the contrary, proposes the idea that perhaps the beast does not exist in the outside world but inside each of them. Although, the other boys laugh at such a wild guess, these words are central to Golding’s point that innate human evil exists. Simon is the first character in the novel to see the beast not as an external force but as a component of human nature. Simon does not yet fully understand his own idea, but it becomes clearer to him in Chapter 8, when he has a vision in the glade and confronts the Lord of the Flies.

Another quote from Chapter 8 says “There isn’t anyone to help you. Only me. And I’m the Beast. . . . Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill! . . . 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 the way they are?” These lines are ‘spoken’ to Simon by the Lord of the Flies, and this confirms his previous statement that had been laughed at in Chapter 5. It confirmed that innate human evil existed, as Golding had portrayed this in his novel. This idea of the evil on the island being within the boys is central to the novel’s exploration of innate human savagery. The Lord of the Flies identifies itself as the beast and acknowledges to Simon that it exists within all human beings: “You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you?” The creature’s monstrous language and bizarre appropriation of the boys’ slang (“I’m the reason why it’s no go”) makes the creature appear even more hideous and devilish, for he taunts Simon with the same colloquial, familiar language the boys use themselves. Simon, startled by his discovery, tries to convey it to the rest of the boys, but the evil and savagery within them boils to the surface, as they mistake him for the beast itself, set upon him, and kills him. Simon always believed that the beast was inside each of the school boys stranded on that island, whereas the other boys believed that the beast existed in the outside world and had attacked the boy who had presumably lost his way in the first few chapters. Simon then climbed the mountain and discovered the truth about the dead pilot. Unfortunately, it was at this point where the evil truly emerged among all of the boys and Simon was mistaken for the beast in disguise and brutally murdered in a frenzy of insane chanting before he could tell them. This is a very significant turning point in the novel because it now seems as if all sense of morals and civilized values have been discarded by the boys, who have allowed evil to take control of their minds. Therefore, to conclude my speech, I would like to say that even though so many characters exist in this novel, I would also like to tell you that the beast is what I think caused the decline in civilization on that island and also it was what caused the rise of the savage and bloodlust in the boys.

Karthik Arcot


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