The Evil Within in Lord of the Flies by William Golding

In Golding’s microcosm of the world in The Lord Of The Flies, the descent from civilization into chaos, or in other words superego to id, was the outline for the story. While some characters seemed to welcome the id, others fought it, nevertheless, it seemed that no matter how hard one fought to cling to civilization, savagery was the endgame for all. Golding believes that all humans need rules to follow to keep their evil within contained, yet while it is true that humans need order, there is a difference between intentionally causing harm and survivalist instinct.

  Whether it is concerning humans or animals, order or some form of social structure is fundamental for survival just as humans have a government, animals have the food chain, and through these systems, society and the environment is kept in balance. Even Ralph agrees when he says, ”The rules are the only thing we’ve got” (Golding 91), Ralph uses the rules to distance himself from Jack, who has become a savage that worships chaos, and Ralph understands that they cannot survive without some form of direction.

The conch’s symbolism for civilization was born from the very beginning when Ralph picks it up till the end, where it dies alongside piggy. Throughout the book, it grows with the boys, and as they stray towards the errant course of the id, it becomes more obsolete until the moment its tacit meaning is shattered, and mayhem finally descends upon the island. Humans are capable of intentionally causing harm; however, that is a choice and not a built»in part of human DNA.

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In the island setting of The Lord Of The Flies, the boys are forced to turn to the id in order to survive, and every evil act they commit is influenced by fear and power. When Jack bullies Piggy, it is because he made a choice to, for none of the other boys bully one another without the effect of deindividuation. The id is the instinctual part of the human mind, and while it contains the aspects of survival, it does not contain the aspects of evil. As the boys drift towards the id, they employ the survivalist instinct, which includes hunting and disregarding the rules.

However, acts such as killing Piggy and beating one another up were conscious decisions, Ralph realizes this and displays it when he says, “after all we aren‘t savages really, and being rescued isn’t a game” (Golding 170). Ralph says this when Jack has already been completely taken over by the id and had completely forgotten about getting off the island when in contrast Ralph was trying to cling to civilization Ralph knows he too could be claimed by the id, but it was his choice not to harm others. When the boys kill Simon, it is in a fit of savagery; however, Piggy’s murder was purposefully orchestrated by Roger, thus outlining the difference between survivalist instinct and actual evil intent. The group of boys in The Lord Of The Flies do enact various dubious acts like when Jack, delirious with power, ties. Wilfred up and brutally clouts him.

However, none of the boys are old enough to understand the consequences of their actions, for it is just as Piggy states; they are “acting like a bunch of kids” (Golding 38).  Because they allow petty arguments and specious displays of power to dictate the way they survive on the island, As the boys fight with one another, a real war is going on in the adult world, but neither the adults nor the kids can understand each other’s troubles. This is because there is a difference in how adults and children go about handling problems adults are more likely to tackle the task in a decorous way because of the experience they have gathered over the years. Children, on the other hand, have no such experience, and therefore do not have as much of an ego or superego, which allows them to be more easily swayed by

emotions, deindividuation, and efflorescent whims, thus proving that the acts of evil the boys perform are not done in full consciousness of possible consequences and not done with the cognizant sense of causing damage or pandemonium, but instead with misguided design and deindividuated thought.  Golding’s belief of an evil within is stated through the harsh reality of what transpires in The Lord Of The Flies, he shows mankind’s need for order through the conch and his interpretation of evil through the Lord of the Flies itself. However, there is a difference between intentionally causing harm and survivalist instinct, and where the atrocious acts the boys commit may be seen as evil, they can also be seen as instinctual or misguided. There will be many examples of id and evil in today’s world; anarchy, caused by the loss of a government or law is an example of idt In contrast, psychopaths who kill for pleasure are an example of evil, nevertheless, both are not accomplished with the same intent.

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The Evil Within in Lord of the Flies by William Golding. (2023, Feb 17). Retrieved from

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