Essay, Research Paper: Lord Of Flies By William Golding

Literature: Lord of The Flies

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William Golding’s Lord of the Flies is a sordid tale about a group of kids who
are stranded on a deserted island after their plane crashes. The story is set
during the Atomic War and plenty of references are made to the fact. However,
the real key to the story lies in the role of Beelzebub, Lord of the Flies.
Beelzebub has a central role in the story as he represents the Beast, or evil,
that dwells within all humans. The Beast cannot be hunted and since it dwells
within all humans, humans are all guilty because mankind is sick. The
destruction of mankind is a point that Golding makes apparent often in this
novel. He establishes early on that Beelzebub is a force within all humans that
drives them to destroy and maim. In the story the central emblem of the story
lies in the dead airman. The boys mistake him for Beelzebub and basically begin
to worship him. In fact, the most effective portrayal of Beelzebub appears early
in the novel in the form of the dead airman. The parachute carries him through
the night to the top of the mountain, where his body is entangled in the trees.
It is in the way in which he is hung that makes it appear as if he was sitting
on a throne of some sort. Sam n Eric first come upon it and are scared to death
at the mere sight of it. However, when the whole group returns to the site the
horrific monstrosity bewilders them. In this quote from the book it clearly
states the group’s actions. “ Behind them the sliver of moon had drawn clear
the horizon. Before them something like a great ape was sitting asleep with its
head between his knees. Then, the wind roared in the forest, there was confusion
in the darkness and the creation lifted its head, holding toward them a ruin of
a face. “ The experience alone accelerates the deterioration of the already
weak civilization of the group. The experience brings young Jack to committing
himself fully to the newfound dark religion. (Johnston, 126) Beelzebub was the
cause for accelerating the destruction of the boys. He was not the outright
cause. The Atomic War generated the novel; it was the sole reason that brought
the boys to live on the island in the first place. It is in this sense that the
boys only duplicated the adult society that had been crashing down around them
while they were part of the civilized world. Golding uses the dead airman to
continue the war on throughout the novel. With each new day the boys become more
and more savage. One by one the boys lose sanity. Beelzebub is slowly entering
the boys, and through the use of Jack as a minister of evil, delivering the boys
to insanity and corruption. (Gindin, 160) Golding however does offer mankind
hope through the character of Simon. Simon is the one character in the story
that knew how to deal with Beelzebub. The day before Simon dies he learns that
Beelzebub dwells within and cannot be hunted by humans. Simon finds that the
evil Beelzebub represents is inside people and ineradicable. Simon is the only
character in the novel to come to terms with the darkness and impending doom of
the group’s situation. Simon looks darkness in the face and, with great
courage, comes to terms with the ignoble nature of mankind. Beelzebub has
blinded every other member of the group. Piggy, for instance, pins all blame on
Jack. Piggy misses the point because Jack is only the minister for a greater
evil. Jack is to blame only in the sense that he lives in all of us, that we are
all guilty because mankind is sick. Still, Simon is the one exception to this
general condemnation. Simon is the one spiritually sound person on the island.
Simon is an epileptic and it is sickness that makes him a saint. Simon is not
interested in leadership and prefers to keep to himself. Rather than involve
himself in the promotion of the self, Simon concentrates on the nature of
reality. He is one of the meek, of the poor in spirit, who are promised the
kingdom of heaven, not the congratulations and rewards of earthly fortune. After
the group removes Simon the decline in morality is greatly accelerated. Golding
does not immediately symbolize this acceleration though. He allows it to flow
from a series of events instead. First, the “littluns” complain of seeing an
imaginary beast; the fear that has manifested itself out of their own
imaginations. Beelzebub finds an outlet through the dead airman. The hunters,
who revert to the most primitive form of expiation, plant the head of a dead pig
on a stick as a blood sacrifice to Beelzebub. Simon comes upon the head, and his
confrontation with it is dramatically heralded by the disappearance of the
butterflies. (Dick, 38) Simon has a vision in which the head speaks to him.
During this vision the pig’s head tells Simon that Beelzebub cannot be hunted
because it lives within all of humans. Simon is overwhelmed by the experience
and faints. Simon comes out of the vision with a newfound knowledge and
understanding. He knows what Beelzebub is and he knows how to conquer it.
However before Simon can ever reach the others Beelzebub has already spread its
darkness over Jack and the others. In a barbaric ritual Simon is slain in a fit
of bloodthirsty rage by basically every member of the group. With Simon out of
the picture the boys are hurdled into a whirlwind of destruction and mayhem.
Ralph and Piggy are now the only mainstays of any sense of justice left on the
island. Jack and the others slowly begin to become more sinister with each
passing day. Ralph and Piggy represent the last remnants of humanity on the
island. Jack has converted most of the boys into his dark hunters. Each day they
go out in search of fresh prey and each night they pay homage to the Lord of the
Flies. Beelzebub now with his full influence over Jack and the hunters is
rapidly racing for the goal of boys destruction. What started out as a civilized
group of school children has now turned into a barbaric cult of violence and
rage. Roger manages to kill Piggy by rolling a rock and crushing the poor boy to
his death. Afterwards in a show of true evil the boys cannibalize Piggy’s
remains. Ralph is the sole remainder of humanity left on the island. Jack and
Roger set the island on fire in order to snuff Ralph out of hiding so they can
butcher him as they did Piggy. Ralph flees the jungle to the beach where on
approaching he is greeted by a naval officer with a ship in the distance. In
that moment Ralph realizes the sheer monstrosity of what he has just witnessed.
Jack and the other boys to are slammed head on by the presence of civilization.
Beelzebub’s tight reign over them had ended but at what cost? Through the
influence Beelzebub the boys had murdered 3 of their comrades and practically
destroyed the island. Golding uses this to make a direct reference to the Atomic
War that was going on around them. As stated earlier, the boys had duplicated
the war on the island. Much like the outside world, all humanity was lost. The
boys were sick with power and evil, much like the world outside the island. War
had corrupted their very souls and they had become savages in order to appease
the devil that dwelled within. As humans we cannot escape evil. Beelzebub dwells
within every human soul and it cannot be hunted or driven away. Mankind is sick
and guilty for giving into these sins. However, mankind is not lost. Through the
use of reason and civilized means we can escape the grasp of Beelzebub and its
dark reign of anarchy. Beelzebub served as a means of destruction in the story.
He accelerated the boys fall of grace. Although the boys failed that does not
condemn mankind. Hope is offered through the story in the form of a young,
epileptic name Simon. Simon stood for the weak that fought with the nature of
reason rather than with a bloodthirsty rage. Mankind needs only to look at
Simon’s example as a guide of how to do it. Reason and virtue will always
conquer over rage and violence. Wars are not the answers to every global
conflict. Every war we have, we have to pass on to our children. In the end
mankind is saved by the nature of reason not the use of war.

McCarron, Kevin. William Golding. Northcote House Publishers Ltd. 1994. 1-5.
Bloom, Harold. “ Introduction. “ Modern Critical Interpretations: William
Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Ed. Harold Bloom. Philadelphia: Chelsea House
Publishers. 1999. 1. Rosenfield, Claire. “ Men of a Smaller Growth “ Modern
Critical Interpretations: William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Ed. Harold
Bloom. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers. 1999. 10. Johnston, Arnold. “
Lord of the Flies: Fable, Myth, and Fiction “ Modern Critical Interpretations:
William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Ed. Harold Bloom. Philadelphia: Chelsea
House Publishers. 1999. 126. Dick, Bernard F. “ Golding’s use of Beezlebub.
“ Bloom’s Notes: William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Ed. Harold Bloom.
Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers. 1996. 38-39. Golding, William. “
William Golding on the Purpose of Lord of the Flies. “ Bloom’s Notes:
William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Ed. Harold Bloom. Philadelphia: Chelsea
House Publishers. 1996. 34-35. Gindin, James. “ The Fictional Explosion.”
Bloom’s Notes: William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Ed. Harold Bloom.
Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers. 1996. 160.
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