Human Nature - Lord of the Flies Book review | Teen Ink

Human Nature - Lord of the Flies Book review

May 6, 2021
By MicWang BRONZE, Princeton, New Jersey
MicWang BRONZE, Princeton, New Jersey
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Since ancient times, humans have examined a central question: is human nature fundamentally good or evil? Ancient and modern thinkers have never resolved this problem completely. In order to advance a line of philosophy, every thinker needs to take a position on this important question. One of the most famous Chinese classics, The Three-character Classic (San Tzu Ching), states that "Men at their birth, are naturally good." A famous Chinese thinker, Mencius (Mengzi), supports this assertion with the following example: if a random child sitting next to you, and is about to fall into the water, you will certainly help. Your action does not result from your relationship with the child; instead, your "compassion" makes you protect him. However, Xunzi, another famous Chinese thinker, counters that human nature is fundamentally evil. As such, it is necessary to educate human beings in a civilized society, otherwise, they will reveal their evil nature.
 
These ideas about whether human nature is fundamentally good or evil have evolved into different political ideas. Laozi, a famous Chinese thinker, and Rousseau, a famous French philosopher, both think that humankind is good by nature but corrupted by society. They want the government to have less power. As political philosophy developed, anarchy developed from these ideas. Many people think that, since human nature is fundamentally good, the existence of the government is meaningless and a good society can be created by mutual tolerance and help between people. On the contrary, Hobbes, a famous English philosopher, believed that, without government restrains, people would be like beasts without order.
 
William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies describes the evolution of a society made up only of children. At the beginning of the book, the author illustrates that there are no adults surviving on the island, which means that no one can lead these children. When he is elected leader of the children, Ralph makes a number of rules that work well. Ralph's team and the conch are symbols of order and democracy. Their team has the advantages of democratic elections, standardized systems, and clear division of labor, which is very similar to the political structure of the ancient Greeks. But after a period of time, the situation on the island devolves. Some small refuse to follow Ralph’s orders. They prefer to play and rest. They are similar to the people at the bottom of a society who silently accepting what happens. Also, the hunting group (“military power”) only obeys Jack, which leaves Ralph without any dominance.
 
Finally, their life is changed by the “monster”. Ralph thinks the monster does not exist, but Jack wants to lead the children to kill the monster. As a result, the fire goes out because Jack and his team abandon it in their hunt for the monster. The rescue team does not find them, and the disagreement between Ralph and Jack officially commences. In the end, even Ralph cannot resist the temptation of delicious food and goes to eat meat with Jack.
 
The children use physical revelry to cover their fear of the monster, and a primitive wildness erupts from them. At the same time, Simon discovers the truth about the monster. He is about, to tell the truth, but he is treated as a monster and is killed. Even Ralph and Piggy participate. This moment in the novel recalls the situation in Germany and Japan during The Second World War, during which originally kind citizens, subsumed by a fanatical environment, unconsciously become bloody killers. Later, almost everyone joins Jack's team, and Piggy is killed by the rock. Ralph can only run away until an officer finds them. This represents the total defeat of order by barbarism, proving Hobbes' theory.
 
Ralph's tragic ending is in sharp contrast with another book, The Coral Island. In The Coral Island, the island is full of resources, and everyone is having a happy life, expressing the idea that human nature is fundamentally good. But Lord of the Flies presents an opposing view. Everyone fights against each other, expressing the idea that human nature is fundamentally evil. Later, the famous thinker Karl Marx argued that the good and evil of human nature are not fixed but will change with the change of the environment. So, what the government has to do is to create a good environment and promote the good side of people as much as possible. The government must repress the "lord of the flies" in people's hearts, and Communism nowadays was created based on the idea.



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on May. 27 at 7:17 pm
Lydiaq PLATINUM, Somonauk, Illinois
43 articles 12 photos 265 comments

Favorite Quote:
Normal people don't know what they're missing.

Is this article supporting communism?