How Does Golding Present the Theme of Good Versus Evil in the Novel “lord of the Flies”?
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How does Golding present the theme of good versus evil in the novel “Lord of the Flies”?
William Goldings novel “Lord of the Flies” is at first impression a dramatic adventure story about a group of boys stranded on an island, whilst being evacuated from a war-torn world. However to the perceptive reader a more meaningful level of Goldings “Lord of the Flies” emerges. The novel is designed as an allegory; to a get a warning across to mankind about what Golding called the “Essential sickness of mankind”. The island acts as a microcosm for the outside world; the boys themselves convey the flaws and the evil that seems to thrive in the mind of mankind as a whole race in a more deep and abstract way.
In the opening the chapter the reader is presented with the first idea that is continued throughout the whole novel. The idea is mans negative impact on the island; “the long scar smashed into the jungle” is the first quote given to the reader about the impact man has on the island. The language used by Golding in this quote is very violent sounding and harsh, this helps with the idea of the quote. The word “scar” in the quote is quite significant to the idea of the negative impact; a scar is left by a deep wound and can be often associated with war and violence. The shuttle crashing on the boys arrival has left the scar in the landscape and so being still innocent and unaware to a degree the boys have already become subjects to the violence, destruction and evil inherent to mankind in the novel “Lord of the Flies”.
Good and evil is presented through the characters early on in the novel. Ralph represents all things democratic and just, in the first few pages of the novel the reader can already tell that he is good rather evil. Ralph is ultimately good and Golding chooses to present this in the opening chapter through his eyes, “eyes that proclaimed no devil”. It is often said that the eyes are the windows to the soul and if Ralph has “Eyes that proclaim no devil” then surely it means that Golding intended the reader to understand him as being good rather than evil. Nature is almost always presented, as being good although it is often opposed to mankind and the destruction is spreads although in the novel the forest is presented as evil. Ralph is able to resist the evil, “forest sliding over his skin”. The quote suggests that the evil of the forest couldnt penetrate his skin; it is as though good and evil counteract each other if the will is strong enough.
The next encounter the reader has with the theme of good versus evil is the arrival of Jack and the choir. Darkness is associated with evil in the novel and the first reference that involves the boys is, “not all shadow”. This is a relevant quote as it is true that not all the boys in the choir are dark, as some do not become hunters. It is as though in a very bleak novel there is almost a tiny spark of hope that not all is evil, although later in the novel Simon (the representation of all things good) is murdered. Jack is a representation of darkness and evil, this is backed up by the quote, “peered into what was to him almost complete darkness”. This quote is quite significant to me as I feel that the idea of Jack not being able to see the light is important. If light is goodness in the novel and Jack cant see it then I feel that it makes him evil to a degree as the light, or goodness is not there in his eyes. And yet again if eyes depict the soul then surely it means his soul cannot see light so consequently it would appear he was already overrun by darkness.
Clothing plays an important part in Goldings portrayal of mankind and good versus evil. The choir as dressed in black and the quote, “hidden by black cloaks” has an ominous feeling to it on its own. The colour and language used in this one quote already gives the reader a feeling of dread. The word “hidden” is a word that gives me the impression of something that doesnt want its identity to be disclosed, secretive and hidden. One particular idea of evil that seems to be commonly depicted in a “black cloak” and “hidden” is a vampire; this stature of a manifestation of evil seems to often bring fear into peoples heart and is often associated with evil. So the colour black is a predominantly evil colour.
In contrast to Ralph, Jack is described in a far more brutal way; Ugly without silliness is a quote describing him. He has his eyes described quite differently to Ralphs, frustrated now, and turning, or ready to turn, to anger Jacks eyes are far more violent that Ralphs. Ralphs eyes are more calm and kind they are eyes that proclaimed no devil. Where as in contrast Jacks eyes are far more violent and tainted compared to Ralphs. Although they are eyes, in the novel they express more than a character, it is a symbolism for good and evil. Jack and Ralphs eyes contrast each other in their descriptions by language, this is like a rivalry and continuous conflict between the two boys therefore creating a link to the idea of good versus evil.
This stance of the choir and the language used is an interesting way of depicting the choirs primarily evil souls and minds. The quote, “perched like black birds on criss-cross trunks” is an important quote when looking at the more general view of good and evil within the boys. The language of the quote is very dark and sinister sounding, being “perched” is like the choir were ready to do something unexpected like pounce on Ralph. It is a very brooding way to sit and the word brooding I think fits the idea s it is as though they are contemplating what to do next. The idea of “black birds” is quite a sinister and very dark idea; as mentioned earlier the colour black is associated with darkness and darkness with evil. Death is another interpretation for it as Ravens and various other birds by that colour are often portrayed as being associated with death.
Roger in the novel is the representative for torture and sadistic pleasure. Roger is associated most definitively with evil and the quote, Furtive boy, is adding to the effect that Golding has created. The word furtive means secret, stealthy or sly, and roger seems to have an eerie silence and furtive manner around him. The quote inner intensity of avoidance and secrecy is another quote that describes Roger brilliantly, the word intensity makes me think of a sort of paranoia or silent violence about him and the avoidance and secrecy part really makes me