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Emily Zakoor

V. Meloche
November 26, 2012

The Vileness of Man in Goldings Lord of the Flies


Throughout history, man has proven time and time again that, when lifted from

the restraints of society, he is innately evil. Whether it be shown through slavery,

genocides, or blackmail, man always falls prey to his instincts of dishonesty, malignity,
and corruption. In the novel the Lord of the Flies, Golding sets the stage with a deserted
island. Without the authority of adults and the rules of society, stranded young boys
struggle for power and dominance, while succumbing to their inner beasts in the
process. In this novel, the vileness of mans heart is explored through the
characters of Roger, Ralph, and Jack.

Evilness can consume any person if they dwell in the darkest parts of themselves

long enough, and this is mirrored in the character of Roger. When he first arrives on the
island, Roger still feels the restraints of his old life. As he throws stones at a boy named
Henry, he never directly hits him because, round the squatting child [is] the protection
of parents and school and policemen and the law. (Golding 67). Although he wants to
hurt the child, his state of mind still lies with his past life, so his inner vileness remains
stifled. Later on in the novel, however, his state of mind shifts into the life of the island.
He loses touch with everything that used to hold him back, and allows his inner, cruel
self to shine through. When Jack splits from the main group, Roger instinctively follows
him. The separated tribe run by Jack is governed by the evils within themselves. He

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gets his first taste of killing, when he joins in on the hunt that Jack organizes. In the
midst of the chaos, Roger [finds] a lodgment for his point and [begins] pushing till he
[is] leaning with his whole weight. The spear [moves] forward inch by inch and the
terrified squealing [becomes] a high pitch scream (154). Roger wants to harm the pig
and pushes even harder when he knows the pig is in excruciating pain. He indulges in
the pain he is inflicting, satisfying the dark desires his heart yearns for. As the days
progress, the desire to kill burns even stronger in him. Roger becomes a menace to all
the boys in his tribe. When Samneric are captured, he [advances] upon them as one
wielding a nameless authority (236). He loves having the upper hand and being in
control of his victims. He lets his internal evil guide his actions. The worst of his actions
however, is an evil of its own. With Piggy in his range of fire, Roger, with a sense of
delirious abandonment, [leans] all his weight on the lever (222) and causes a boulder
to come hurdling down and smash Piggy and his conch to pieces. He deliberately kills
Piggy with no hesitation and without a hint of regret. This punctuates his internal
violence and truly shows just how vile a mans heart can be.

Despite Roger displaying such a callous heart, Ralph appears to have a true and

pure heart throughout the beginning of the novel. He always tries to keep the order in
the group, and tries keep the hope alive for being rescued. Although he appears
composed and rational most of the time, even Ralph delves into his darker side. He lets
the evil infect and overcome him, even if it is just for brief moments. Early on in the
novel, when Ralph first meets Piggy, they form a small friendship. Piggy tells Ralph in
confidence of his nickname from back home, in hopes of it not continuing on the island
as well. Later that day when the boys gather together in a meeting, Jack the head of the
choir boys, calls him Fatty. In response to that, Ralph says, Hes not fatty, his real

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names Piggy! (29). The boys jeer and make fun of Piggy after this comment, and Piggy
feels very betrayed by Ralph. It was a harsh thing for Ralph to do, knowing that it would
hurt Piggys feelings. Unfortunately, Ralphs actions only get worse from there. When he
accompanies Jack to go find the beast, a wild boar appears through the thickets.
Ralph lets himself go, and with the boar only five yard away, he [flings] the foolish
wooden stick that he [carries], [sees] it hit the great snout and [hangs] there for a
moment Ralph [is] full of fright and apprehension and pride (140). Ralph takes joy in
hurting and trying to kill the pig. To make matters even worse, when the boys reenact
the scene with the boar, Ralph completely loses control over his actions and lets his
instincts take over: Ralph too was fighting to get near, to get a handful of that brown,
vulnerable flesh. The desire to squeeze and hurt was overmastering (142). Ralph has a
burning desire to kill, which is very uncharacteristic of him. He is supposed to represent
order, civilization, and leadership, but his thoughts and actions are not supporting that.
He lets the vileness inside him take over.

Of all the characters in this novel, Jack can easily be identified as the root of all

evil in the island. From the very beginning of the book, Jack has a strong desire to kill.
During his first encounter with a pig, he begins to kill it, but at the last minute recants his
actions. After that, he vows to never let the opportunity escape him as he [snatches] his
knife out of the sheath and [slams] it into a tree trunk (30), simulating the brutal,
unmerciful force he will inflict on the next pig. He still has ties to his ethics, but as the
time passes, the evilness he has inside himself roots deeper and deeper into his soul.
As time drifts on, Jack feels more and more isolated from the group, having different
views on how to run things. He consequently runs off, creating a rift within the group.
He then starts up his own tribe that focuses on hunting and selfish needs rather than

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rescue and democracy, like the tribe Ralph runs. His tribe is the lesser of the two, with
underlying evil holding it together. This split in the boys causes animosity between him
and Ralph, as neither side can agree on anything. Jacks first order as leader of the
tribe is to go on a hunt. He spots an innocent sow, and leads the boys on a ruthless,
bloodthirsty hunt. After Jack gives the final blow to the pig, he giggles and flicks them
[his palms] while the boys laugh at his reeking palms (155). This quote especially
shows Jacks inner tendencies towards evil. He shows no remorse for the pig and
delights in its brutal death, indulging in its corpse and the scene that lays before him.
After killing the pig, animals just are not enough for him anymore; he wants a real battle
of outwitting and out maneuvering, and ralph is just what he needs. Towards the end of
the novel, Jack lets all of his ties to society go and unleashes his inner beast. With a
conflict arising with Ralph, he sees the advantage and turns all the other boys in his
tribe against Ralph. He leads his tribe of savages on another merciless, blind hunt, but
this time with the thirst for human blood. Ralph gains insight of Jacks plan when the
twins, boys that were formerly close to Ralph, say to him, They hate you, Ralph.
Theyre going to do you. Theyre going to hunt you tomorrow (272). Jack has made a
systematic plan to kill Ralph. Now nothing separates Jack from any other carnivorous
animal, as he throws away all his morals, dignity, and anything that distinguishes him
from the animal world. He is the epitome of evil, and the greatest example of the
vileness in mans heart that can be unleashed.

Golding shows throughout the novel, just how vile a mans heart can be

through the characters of Roger, Ralph, and Jack.