Good vs. Evil in William Golding´s Books (Lord of the Flies and 12 Angry Men)



The human nature debate has been going on for an exceedingly long time, and many people have offered their opinions about the topic; an immensely popular book that discusses this topic is Lord of the Flies. The book follows a group of boys on an island who battle between savagery and sanity. William Golding uses his novel Lord of the Flies to depict humans as sinful animals, corrupted and enslaved to their own savagery; however, this is an inaccurate portrayal of human nature as humans are advocates, reassuring, and methodical.  

William Golding who believes that people are more evil than good would argue that people are greedy and violent; Golding uses his novel Lord of the Flies to support his argument through the character Jack who he uses to represent these evil characteristics, and how they can lead you to lose sight of your true morals. Jack is very headstrong and power hungry; he declares, “I ought to be chief... because I am chapter chorister and head boy” (pg.16). Jack’s greediness becomes very prevalent at the beginning of the novel when he declares that he should be chief and yells, “Choir! Stand Still! (pg.20). Jack believes he should have all the power even if he is not the most qualified; he gets very jealous of Ralph and the expression of Jack’s face “disappears under a blush of mortification” (pg.17). His abuse of power becomes more prevalent towards the end when he is recognized as chief; he feels threatened by Ralph, so his only instinct is to smoke him out with fire and kill him. As Ralph murmured “Now the fire is nearer” (pg.198) it is very prevailing that the fire is being used to kill Ralph not as a signal; Jack and the other boys get very violent and evil towards the end of the story and give us the perception that human nature is more evil. 

Golding’s argument is an inaccurate depiction of human nature, and the characters Simon and Ralph supports this; other characters in the novel abandon moral behavior as soon as the rules of civilization no longer impose upon them, but Simon and Ralph do not. When Ralph is voted chief,  he decides that rescue and order are most important and sets out to establish them. He does so by calling an assembly; “We’ll have rules” he cried eagerly, “lots of rules” (pg.33). Ralph institutes rules and civilization because he knows they will not survive without it. He knows that in order to survive they will need to work together and have rules in place. These are good instincts because without adults or the inflicting rules of society Ralph could have easily gone wild, but instead his first instinct was to keep everything civilized. Furthermore, Simon was by Ralphs side through majority of the story and always advocated for Piggy who was made fun of a lot. Simon elaborates to the other boys that, “We used Piggy's specs. He helped that way” (chapter 2). Piggy is regularly mocked by his lack of help; however, Simon reminds them that without Piggy’s glasses there would be no fire. Simon also offers his meat to Piggy when Jack refuses to give him some for not helping; however, he is quickly shut down when Jack screams, “Eat! Damn you!” (pg.74) This helps Piggy because the boys constantly laugh and discriminate against him, but Simon sees passed his lack of physicality and validates how he has helped and that he deserves to eat. Simon is also very reassuring for Ralph as he begins give up on being rescued; Simon promised him; “You’ll get back all right” (chapter 7). Simon supplies comfort to Ralph as he sees him struggling; he does not want Ralph to give up on the idea of being rescued and realizes the if they lose hope they may not be. Simon advocates for and reassures others throughout the story, while Ralphs natural instincts were to keep order and peace; qualities that show people are more good than evil.  

Equally Important, 12 Angry Men also supports the argument that humans are more good than evil. 12 Angry Men is a good example of people being more good than evil; the play exemplifies how understanding and methodical people can be when dealing with a person's life. In the play they talk a lot about prejudice and how it affects people; juror 8 rhapsodized, “It's always difficult to keep personal prejudice out of a thing like this. And wherever you run into it, prejudice always obscures the truth” (Act 3) The jurors try to keep the jury as unbiased as possible and do their best to come to a fair and unanimous consensus, and although it is a tough decision Juror 3 ends the case with his vote of, “Not guilty” (Act 3). Although voting guilty would have been the easiest thing to do they talked out every detail of the testimony. Juror 8 questioned the switch blade and when he pulled out the exact knife the boy had used Juror 4 confirmed that, “"They identified the death weapon in court as that very same knife" (Act 2). They all had jobs and other things to do that they put aside so they could make the right decision. The jurors were very methodical throughout the play to make sure that there was not any reasonable doubt, they would vote not guilty. The jurors value the lives of others and suggest that people are more good because they did not take the obvious way out, which in this case may have been the wrong decision.  

Furthermore, the Black Lives Matter movement also shows how people are inherently good. With this movement people are coming together as a community to act against the wrongful killings of black people in our country; many people are also working with others in their community to take the initiative against these acts; the article sympathized with what was happening and claimed, “We need to recognize that we have a lifetime of kindness to pour into people of color” (Black Lives Matter: Inspiring Stories of Communities Coming Together); these people are rising above to help the oppressed. These people have good instincts and have the courage to speak up and educate others about what is going on. By “listening and lifting up” (Black Lives Matter: Inspiring Stories of Communities Coming Together) we can help the struggling communities. People are advocating for the lives of people of color and starting tough conversations to make changes, the article reported a real-life example of this supporting Brock and her decision to “encourage her Facebook friends almost daily to have important conversations about race” (Black Lives Matter: Inspiring Stories of Communities Coming Together). A popular argument is that society inflicts rules upon us; however, people of color have been treated differently our entire lives. We are making changes because we see evil in this world and we want to see the good.  

In conclusion, William Goldings argument that humans are enslaved to their own savagery is inaccurate; human nature is more good because humans are supportive and encouraging. Humans offer positivity and support when they see people struggling, and refrain from taking the easy way out; these are all important and admirable qualities of an inherently good society.