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The Beast

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Fear haunts and torments man; fear of the darkness, of failure, or of others. These fears are matched by our values; light or fire, success, and power. Fire has protected man from darkness ever since Prometheus gave humans his gift. This fire supposedly leads to civilization and the success of mankind has overturned human failures while men strive for power. If they have power they suppress their enemies and can hide their fear. Fear creates a beast of evil which resides in man and influences his decisions. In the novel “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding the beast is representing the evil in man that destroys the purity of nature. He is able to do this through the usage of fear and beast, Simon, and the setting.

The Boys have a great fear of the unknown and through it they create a beast. They each have their own idea about where the beast is, but with the exception of Simon they never realize that the beast surrounds them, because the beast resides in all. The beast is the evil in man that makes him do certain things. For example, when Roger becomes a murderer, the beast has taken such a hold on him that it becomes his personality. He does things just because he can. The fear of the unknown creates a beast in the boys and what they fear is what they believe the beast is. The beast is first mentioned by the littluns. “He says the beastie came out of the dark” (36). Because the little boy is afraid of the dark his mind creates a beast from darkness. This shows the fear of the unknown and is the first mention of the beast, from here on the boys become more and more paranoid, of the beast, and of what they don’t know. “I was asleep when the twisty things were fighting and when they went away I was awake, and I saw something big and horrid moving in the trees” (85). Phil explains how he saw the beast as big shadow but it was really Simon. This is the first time Simon is mistaken by the beast the second time he dies. He also says the ‘creepers’ where fighting him when they are actually just harmless vines. “The children’s fears distort the natural objects around them; twigs become creepers, shadows become demons” (Rosenfield 95-101). The boy’s imaginations grab hold of the beast and build on to the idea to create a one. However as their imaginations create a monster to haunt the Island; the real beast created haunts their minds. The boys believe there is something lurking in the forest at night in the dark, and fear of darkness is fear of the unknown. The boys are afraid of what they do not or cannot understand and are therefore afraid of the beast. They believe it exist but have never seen it or any trace. “Once the word ‘beast’ is mentioned the menace of the irrational becomes overt; name and thing become one” (Rosenfield 94). When the littluns first mention the beast and it is dismissed as a nightmare but the idea had been planted in their minds and grows until a fully fledged monster is created. This is shown as more of the older boys began to think something is astray too. “As if it wasn’t a good island…as if the beastie or the snake thing was real.” (52) Simon says this in response to Ralph and Jacks discussion about the island; they think something is not quite right. Jack says he feels hunted. Their idea of the beast frightens and haunts them by creating the internal beast. Ever since the first mention of the beast, the boys’ paranoia and fear has created one. To them the beast is a shadowy creature that lurks in the night waiting to strike, but it is really internal.

The others guess at what and where the beast is they all have their own idea about where it comes from. “The Beast comes out on the sea-’‘Out of the dark-’‘Trees-” (125). By giving each boy a different idea of where the beast is, gives it an omnipresent feel, and also shows the boys’ fears. The fear of the unknown is present in each of the guesses the boys made. The sea is home to mysterious creature and is the only place the boys cannot explore, darkness represents the unknown and also the ‘littluns’ nightmares occur at night, and the tangled forest is personified as ‘creepers’ that twist and turn to snakes at night. On the Island evil seems to be present always and the boys cannot escape it, but this is because the evil is with every boy and therefore does surround them all. Golding also uses the name of the book to suggest evil, the direct translation, in Hebrew, of ‘the Lord of the Flies’ is Beelzebub meaning ‘the devils right hand demon in hell’. Golding names the pig’s head ‘the Lord of the Flies’ and it is through this head that Simon sees that the demon is in man. The beast is in the minds of man not some monstrous animal.

In the essay ‘Men of a Smaller Growth’ Clair Rosenfield provides an accurate description of Simon “undersized, subject to epileptic fits, bright-eyed, and introverted, he contently creeps away from the others to meditate among the intricate vines of the forest.”(Rosenfield 93-101). Simon, unlike the others, is not afraid of the forest in day or night, and is comfortable navigating through the vines in darkness, even though the other boys are terrified to venture far alone. He is also the only boy to realize that the beast is created as an explanation of the boys’ internal fears. He sees that the beast is the shadow inside them controlled by their fear. Simon recognizes that the only thing to fear is they. This is demonstrated when he says “Maybe there is a beast…what I mean is…maybe it’s only us.” (89). Simon is beginning to voice that the only rational fear on the island is they themselves. However the others do not believe him, and rebuke him for his efforts to speak the truth. They do not understand, because they believe that the beast is all they fear but they are unable to realize the one true fear which is inside them. Simon also subconsciously realizes that the beast is part of the boys and not a solid creature. This happens when Samneric describe the beast. Simon is now the only one that doesn’t believe there is a true in the flesh beast because he thinks logically. He knows that the twins story is a fabrication of their fears. “However Simon thought of the beast, there rose before his inward sight the picture of a human at once heroic and sick.” (103). Simon sees that the beast is a part of man but because of his introverted personality is unable to voice his thoughts at a meeting. Then in his interview with the Lord of the Flies (a hallucination before an epileptic fit), a pig’s head on a stick tells him “You knew didn’t you? I’m part of you? Close Close Close! I’m the reason why it’s no go? Why things are why they are?” (143). This is when his conscious becomes aware that the beast is a part of the boys. Armed with this new knowledge he climbs the mountain and finds the so called beast is a dead man tangled in a parachute. Simon understands that the beast is the equivalent to a broken puppet mastered by the wind, and is not at all a threat. “The beast was harmless and horrible” (147) so Simon staggered down to his death where his knowledge was killed by the real beasts. “Like a martyr he is killed for being precisely what he is not” (Telgen 194). In the beginning, the boys dismissed the idea of the beast believing it to exist only in nightmares, but then they believe that the beast is real with teeth and claws ready to destroy them. Simon alone is able to see that the beast is a part of man and dies because the boys “leapt on to the beast [Simon], screamed, bit, and tore. There were no words or movements but the tearing of teeth and claws” (153). The boys were crazed by the beast trying only to destroy Simon, who they thought was the beast, but instead he was the only innocent one.

As the beast in the boys destroyed Simon, they also destroyed the island. The island was perfect, everything was provided for the boys, there is plenty of food, water, and the climate is warm. This setting is so perfect to show that there is no pressure or need to fight to survive, and so the only evil is the boys. Unlike in the novel ‘The Coral Island’, in which a Victorian approach to mankind is displayed, "The evil on the island is internal not external" (Telgen 195). This shows that Golding strayed from the form shown in the novel 'The Coral Island' to show that man is perfectly capable of destroying each other without external evils. Golding created a paradise “If anything were to go wrong as it tragically did it could only come then from within; the only enemy of man was himself” (Spitz 23). The island is so perfect and plentiful that there is no reason for struggle or fight for survival. Spitz in his essay, explains that Golding made the setting a paradise Island meaning that there was no struggle or need of hostilities, in order for Golding to show the beast in man will destroy to satisfy human evil. In the beginning the plane crash scars the Island “All around him the long scar smashed into the jungle was a bath of heat.” (7) Humans put the first mark on it; and also branded the island for a later death. Golding soon shows that man needs no incentive or weapons to destroy; human nature is enough. In their carelessness and desire for a signal fire the boys recklessly set the island on fire. “Beneath the capering boys a quarter of a mile square of forest was savage with smoke and flame” (44). The boys not only set the island on fire by accident but also killed a six year old child. This is ironic because the signal fire was meant to save but instead destroyed. Later the fire is used by the savages to force Ralph out of his hiding place, and to find him once he is out. It is again ironic because Ralphs ‘sacred’ signal fire is used to kill him but in the end it is the rescuer from the beast. The fire brings the officer who is able to rescue Ralph, remind the reader that these are just ‘little kids’, and bring civilization to the island which is able to suppress the beast by ending the fear of the unknown future. “It [the beast] slinks back in to the jungle as the boys creep out to be rescued; but the beast is real. It is there, and it may return.” (Telgen 195) Part of the unknown was the future but now as they are safely rescued they no longer need “get frightened of people” as Piggy had said. However as Niemeyer expressed “It is there and it may return” as the boys move into reality they leave the beast behind, but because of human nature there is a beast in all, and is not likely to desert the mind of man for long, especially the minds of twelve year old murderers. “Children are specifically used to show that the innocence of childhood can be corrupted by the fears from within" (Slayton 192). Innocence has been lost and cannot be regained. The beast, which had once been present in man, will not be absent forever. In those dark moments when fear once again grips mans mind the beast will return. But as Ralph looks around the island a last time the beast has gone for the moment and “For a moment he had a fleeting picture of the strange glamour that had once invested the beaches. But the island was scorched up like dead wood.” (202) Ralph describes how much the boys destroyed the perfection of the island with the beast in them. Also he realizes that the beast (in the boys) has destroyed paradise just to murder him.

Golding uses the beast to represent the evil in man in his novel ‘The Lord of the Flies’. Nightmares send a ripple of fear through the boys creating a beast which causes the trouble on the island. At the end Ralph wept for the loss of innocence and the evil in man’s heart. The boys lost their childhood innocents because of the beast. In their fear they released a beast that killed and destroyed the island. The evil in man’s heart is a tormenting beast; it torments himself and others. No man can regain lost purity or purge himself of the beast. The beast is created through fear and none are without fear.


Works Cited:
Golding, William. Lord of the Flies, New York: Penguin, 1954, Print
Spitz, David. “An Interpretation of Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies” The Antioch Review 30.1: p 21-23. Print.
Rosenfield, Clair “Men of a Smaller Growth’: A Psychological Analysis of William Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies” Literature and Psychology 11.4 (1961): p 93-101. Print.
Telgen, Diane, Ed. “The Lord of the Flies” Novels for students Vol. 2, Detroit, MI, Gale, (1997).

Bibliography:
Golding, William. Lord of the Flies, New York: Penguin, 1954, Print
Spitz, David. “An Interpretation of Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies” The Antioch Review 30.1: p 21-23. Print.
Rosenfield, Clair “Men of a Smaller Growth’: A Psychological Analysis of William Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies” Literature and Psychology 11.4 (1961): p 93-101. Print.
Telgen, Diane, Ed. “The Lord of the Flies” Novels for students Vol. 2, Detroit, MI, Gale, (1997).
Lorcher, Trent. "Lord of the Flies Allusions: Learn about Allusions in Lord of the Flies; Learn about Biblical Allusions in Lord of the Flies." Find Health, Education, Science & Technology Articles, Reviews, How-To and Tech Tips At Bright Hub - Apply To Be A Writer Today! Bright Hub, Apr. 2010. Web. 07 June 2011. <http://www.brighthub.com/education/homework-tips/articles/35087.aspx>.



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