June 22, 2006

The Destructiveness of Man: An Essay on Lord of the Flies

by embryowassup
For anyone to say that all of humanity is evil or will be evil if not controlled is slightly misinformed. While, the events in Lord of the Flies are plausible and likely, the reasoning that it is a manifestation of man’s primeval nature is ungrounded. There are several factors which contributed to the downfall of the island society including environment, knowledge, and circumstance.

Man is a function of his environment. So the fact that Lord of the Flies is set on a tropical island is significant. On this tropical island, there is not much room for horticultural cultivation; therefore, the gathering of resources is left to a few in the community. Thus, much like American politics, bureaucracy rules all. But how do dictators and monarchs attain and sustain power? Truly, these ideologues do nothing but rule. In a nation where resource is widespread, a monarch would receive absolute rule through oppressive taxes such as Soviet Russia, the land of the Aztecs, or Cambodia. In a nation where there are few resources, those who control the resources will generally control the land such as Nazi Germany, Socialist China, or 1890s America. The latter is what happened on Golding’s island. Jack was able to control all those on the island the inhabitants of the islands by putting himself in control of food gathering.

Reason has not place over survival. The reason, however, that the children went wild wasn’t because man is essentially evil, but because man desires to be unequivocally free. As children, the boys don’t yet have a sense of individual pride or self-worth that’s independent of the opinions of others. Also, they don’t have a fully developed understanding of cause and effect. In turn, they engage in horrendous acts together because they don’t have a full grasp upon the consequences of their actions and cannot take themselves away from the group.

Lord of the Flies doesn’t portray what would happen if a society is left to fate without law; it portrays what would happen if people are raised without examples. For example, in any democracy or republic, the laws, in theory, are transitory. In a government by the people, the people are essentially led by thoughts of their elders and lessons from the past. During the Spanish Revolution of 1936, anarchist communes sprouted up, and prospered, often producing much more than before collectivization for a fraction of the cost. These communes would not have worked had the members had no lessons of their forefathers. They also would not have worked had their independence been gained through accident.

Throughout history, there have been revolutions. Those revolutions which fought oppressive regimes generally turned out for the better. Whereas those which occurred in order to remedy a transient situation or for no reason at all, failed. Ancient Rome is a good example of both of these. In early Rome, the city-state was ruled by kings, eventually the kings became oppressive, so the Romans ditched monarchy and found themselves a republic. Later in Roman history, Gaius Julius Caesar waged civil war in order to attain a second term of consulship (so that he might not be ridiculed and prosecuted for having essentially abandoned his country in order to fight foreign wars). For his personal gain, he won a second and then a third and fourth term as consul. Eventually, he was declared emperor. As emperor, he was granted complete legal amnesty and control over everything. Here, it is seen, a revolution for public freedom turns into public freedom (e.g., France, Mexico, Spain, China under the Kuomintang, England, The Philippines), whereas a revolution for anything else (e.g., Nazi Germany, Nationalist Japan, Fascist Italy, The Balkans under Milošević, Iraq under Hussein, most of Africa, most of South America).

In Lord of the Flies, the boys’ independence was gained accidentally and without lessons from the past. This, not the nature of man, contributed to the downfall of their society.


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