Are we really good at heart? Or is it a society that commands us to restrain our primitive desire for evil that makes us appear this way.
The most pioneering theory of the lord of the flies is that the boys on the island are inherently evil and that they, as well as all of us, are genetically predisposed for immorality. This deeper desire to hunt and kill is said to be merely brought to the surface on the island due to the lack of civilisation, as well as their ejection from societal order. I would argue the contrary; it is the civilisation established on the island and the mob mentality implemented therein that actuates the surfacing of these behaviours and these are not primitive instincts that society ordains us from enacting on. The most recurring concept I noted when reading the story is that as the boys become increasingly deindividualized and move towards mob tendencies under Jack’s sovereignty, the chaos and destruction correlates. I therefore assign this to be the genesis and cause of the breakdown of civilisation on the island.
Initially, Golding presents us with defined characters with a strong sense of self “Percival Wemys Madison of the Vicarage Harcourt St Anthony “and “I’m chapter chorister and head boy. I can sing C sharp.” This is presented parallel to a resemblance of order evoked by Ralph; “We’ll have to have hands up like at school.” However, the first sign of foreshadowing of the ephemeral nature of this façade is in Chapter 2 when the we read “the choir…had discarded their cloaks.” This symbolises their progressive moving away from ‘uniformity.’
By the end of the novel the identity and order, manifested by the boys has become evanescent as they descend into holistic savagery and bloodshed. “Kill! Cut! Spill!” This is further evidenced in their gradual descent to ferity implied by the comparisons made by Golding to dogs in the simile “panting like dogs.” This is important to note because later on in the novel one of the boys is later compared to gnawing “like a wolf.” This is very well crafted by Golding as he communicates effectively an `imperceptible change in the boy’s mannerisms.
The basis for the degeneration of the social order and civilisation of the boys can be predicted further if we look at Gustave Le Bon’s deindividualisation theory which coincides very much with the language choice used by Golding. This states that factors such as anonymity, group unity and arousal can weaken personal control. Furthermore, induced by the anonymity of being in a crowd, members feel a lessened sense of legal culpability which is what I feel is taking place in the Lord of the flies based on the language used by Golding and the wide scope of anonymity and complete loss of identity presented by him. “Painted anonymity of the group” “Nameless authority”
The quote “He did not notice Jack even when he saw him” further promotes this idea because it foreshadows the complete loss of Jack’s identity which later follows in the novel in the culmination of him only being referred to as “Chief” and the boys being referred to as “anonymous devils.” This juxtaposes their original description of “a party of boys.”