William Golding’s novel, “Lord of the Flies,” conveys the essence of human nature through an allegory of a group of boys stranded on an island. Eventually, this group of boys turn against each other in an attempt to survive. Given the circumstances, Golding illustrates the basics of human nature. Once people are stripped of civilization and their rules, their savage instincts start to kick in and their actions follow. Ultimately, human beings are inherently evil when they are free from any kind of restriction.
Deserted on an island, the lack of civilization rapidly affects the boys lifestyles as they turn to violence and aggression. For instance, after Jack’s group of boys murder Simon, Ralph admits, “I’m frightened. Of us.” (Golding, 145). Ralph becomes aware of the pure evil that has been committed and that there is no excuse for what they have done. Their actions show the human beings that they truly are without society telling them what to do and what not to do. Additionally, in Muzafer Sherif’s Robbers Cave Experiment, “A group of boys find themselves stranded in a beautiful but isolated environment. For a brief period things go well, but then human nature starts to assert itself, and their mini-society descends swiftly into antagonism, hostility, and violence.” (article 1). Having freedom and no boundaries give the boys an opportunity to act however they please, and they choose to behave maliciously. This real-life experiment proves that generally most human beings will revert to their primitive ways of evil if given the tough circumstances, which is, in this case, an isolated island. Golding’s book and Sherif’s experiment verify the fact that without any boundaries, people will give in to their true selves and commit all kinds of evil.
The darkness is a major influence in bringing out the evil inside of us; it sparks fear in people’s hearts and plays with their minds. Furthermore, when Ralph claims Simon was murdered, Piggy defends the boys, claiming, “It was dark. There was that—that bloody dance. There was lightning and thunder and rain. We was scared!” (Golding, 81). Piggy justifies murder with the excuse of darkness and how the fear of darkness compelled them to act without thinking. Darkness is even capable of driving you to murder someone, demonstrating the power of human nature at its darkest. Moreover, in the Raft of Medusa incident, “For the 147 survivors of the wrecked Medusa abandoned by their longboat-sailing shipmates on a huge, unseaworthy raft in 1816, the darkness stirred a potent mix of terror, despair and mindless aggression.” (article 3). The results of this fear of darkness was deadly; in a matter of hours, only thirty men out of 147 survivors were alive. The others were viciously murdered because of the insanity that darkness had brought upon them. When given certain circumstances, which was darkness in this case, people were compelled to slaughter one another, exemplifying a hidden feature in the human nature.
When people are at a matter of life or death, murder does not seem as horrendous as it is in civilization. For instance, often in dysfunctional survivor groups, “Singling out the sick and weak is useful to a survivor group in two ways. First, it can provide a seemingly legitimate rationale for abandonment or murder. Second, sick and weak people are much easier to dump or dispatch.” (article 4). This case seems to be the complete opposite when in civilization, for the weak are treated with extra care in hopes to keep them alive. The mindset seems to be switched when people are under desperate conditions, further proving human nature’s true identity. Furthermore, after Simon died, the boys who killed him did not seem very concerned or guilty of their actions. They allowed the ocean to swallow up his body and no one mourned for him or brought him up again. They no longer have society pressuring them into feeling a certain way when they do something shameless or corrupt. These actions and reactions exhibit the true human nature of mankind: immorality is the foundation of their identities.
People may argue that even if some people are liable to doing evil, they have a part of them that wants the satisfaction of doing good. Most people who do evil deeds still want approval from others, leading them to seek an outlet for their guilt and grief. However, there are many cases where people’s greed and strong desires overrule their minds and hearts, preventing them from seeking any type of approval. They treasure pleasure over anything and everything, making it hard for them to see any good in doing good. All in all, human nature will always have a way of turning out to be evil; the effort to suppress it will determine the society as a whole.
Human nature consists of the basis of evil when given the right environment and situation. Rules are made to keep humans in check and keep them from doing evil. The fact that rules must be established in order to control humans means that human nature is not inherently good. If human beings were good in the first place, rules would not be necessary. Golding’s novel proves that rules are a necessity; without it, people would resort to evil decisions such as murder and savagery.