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How is the theme of evil presented in Lord of the Flies?

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In William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, young boys are left to fend for themselves due to a fighter plane crash they were in. They are secluded from a nuclear war occurring in the ‘outside world’. Lord of the Flies is an allegory of World War 2 and is used as a basis to explore the theme of evil. Golding believes that evil is innately within us and in civilization’s absence, will grow and lose its latency. The theme of evil is presented through symbols, characters, events and settings; thus Golding uses Lord of the Flies as a microcosm to convey his ideas.

Evil is presented through the event of Ralph and Jack robbing Piggy of his glasses to kindle the fire. This is proven when Golding states: ‘His voice rose to a shriek of terror as Jack snatched the glasses off his face [………] Ralph elbowed him to one side and knelt by the pile’. Initially, Golding uses Piggy’s glasses to represent good. However, this event implies that in the wrong hands, the glasses could subtly represent evil. This is because theft is a sin; Ralph and Jack had took Piggy’s glasses without his authorization – this is theft. Also, the fire, later in the novel, was the cause of a conflict between Ralph and Jack – disputation is often associated with evil. Also, the dynamic verb ‘shriek’ depicts that Piggy is frightened. Piggy’s fear implies that the action being done to him is evil. This is due to the fact that evil actions can sometimes be determined through the reaction of the victim. On the whole, evil is presented through this event quite profusely. Golding does this to convey his idea of evil being everywhere – even inside us. The fact that Piggy’s glasses (representation of intelligence – good) is used for something evil strongly puts forward Golding’s convictions.

The setting is often used to display signs of evil throughout the novel. An example of this would be the constant blockage of light on the island: ‘[…]reclined against the light[…]’. The absence of light (representation of utopia and good) leaves the presence of dystopia – which connotes of evil. Light is also a symbol of guidance and without it there is no sense of direction resulting in chaos. Chaos and anarchy allow room for morally wrong and unacceptable behavior – evil. Moreover, the preposition ‘against’ suggests wars and conflict. These often correlate with evil as they are considered to be immoral or uncivilized. Therefore, this foreshadows future evil aspects of the novel. Golding’s belief of innate evil losing its latency is perpetuated through this exploitation of pathetic fallacy; this is one of the ways he uses the novel as a microcosm to put across his ideas.

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