Nature Of “The Beast” Throughout “Lord Of The Flies” Essay, Research Paper
In The Lord of the Flies, William Golding gives “the beast” many different forms throughout the novel. Fear is a very natural part of being human. Sometimes the fear we experience in our minds is stronger than any physical source of fear. The boys in the novel have many fears. They have to deal with the fear of natural threats in the dark jungle on the island, but they also have to deal with the fear of the unknown. They are very unsure of what their futures hold. Throughout the novel the beast becomes a symbol of their fear. It takes the form of a serpent of the jungle, a beast from the water, a human being, and finally the form of Simon. It changes from a form which is clearly not human, the serpent, to a human form as the boys realize that their greatest threat and the real beast is their own human nature. Each form of the beast represents a different source of fear. It changes from a fear of physical harm, to fear of the unknown, and finally to a fear of the evil inside a person.
First the beast is in the form of a snake. The snake is one of the oldest symbols of evil dating back to the story of Adam and Eve. When the boys first arrive on the island, it is like a paradise to them. The serpent “beastie” is reported by one of the little boys. This could mean that he is experiencing fear and pictures it in his mind, just like a small child who imagines monsters in the darkness of his bedroom at night. One statement that supports the fact that the little boy is imagining the “beastie” is that he says he “saw it in the darkness”. If it were dark he wouldn’t be able to actually see anything. This beast was seen in the dark jungle. Ralph being the protagonist of the novel is sure that there is no beast. He reasons that the island is too small to have a beast. It is the fear in people that brings out the beast, or the evil in us. Because we are afraid, we may exaggerate the danger in our minds. The boys are familiar with what the serpent should look like so they know what to look for when they search the island. Just when they have convinced themselves that there is no beast, it changes form.
The beast next takes the form of “a beast from the water”. This story takes place on an island, which symbolizes that the boys are surrounded by fear. The beast from the sea represents a fear of the unknown. When they thought the “beastie” was on the island they all searched it and found nothing. They know for sure that there is nothing on the island that will harm them. Now that they think the beast is in the sea it is a different story. They don’t know much at all about the sea or what could be in it. This is explained in the novel when Maurice says, “I mean when Jack says you can be frightened because people are frightened anyway that’s alright. But when he says there’s only pigs on this island I expect he’s right but he doesn’t know, not really, not certainly I mean? My daddy says there’s things, what d’you call’em that make ink-squids-that are hundreds of yards long and eat whales whole? I don’t believe in the beast of course. As Piggy says, life’s scientific, but we don’t know, do we?” Unlike the first “beastie” the boys don’t know what to expect and don’t know how to protect themselves. Simon tries to fight his own fear of speaking up to suggest that the beast is really within the boys themselves, but he cannot overcome their teasing. The fear of the unknown is so strong, it causes the shaky order and rules that the boys have designed to break down. This seems to frighten and panic them even more.
The third form the beast takes is that of a human being. The boys have all reached the point where they want an adult to rescue them. When the adult finally comes, he is already powerless and cannot save them. Once again, their fears take over. No one thinks of the figure and parachute as a sign of their rescue. They are all focused on the unknown beast and react irrationally. The beast within them is growing stronger and it seems to grow and spread. The hunters express the evil within them by killing the pig and breaking away from the group.
Simon is the only one that is still thinking rationally at this point in the novel. He recognizes that the description of the beast given by the boys does not make sense so he goes to confront the beast alone. When he finally reaches the parachutist, he realizes that the beast is harmless and powerless, and knows that he must tell the others. Unfortunately, by this time, the fear within Jack and his hunters has become so powerful they are like an uncontrollable gang. The gang becomes the real beast and kills Simon before he can tell them about the harmless corpse. Afterwards, the boys still can’t face the evil inside of them. They don’t want to talk about it and blame the beast for Simon’s death.
The beast starts out in the form of a serpent and gradually changes into the form of a human. As this occurs the boys realize that the beast is actually their own fear inside of them, part of being a human. The forms that the beast takes reflect the fears the boys are facing. First they must deal with the little boys fear of the dark, then the older boys fear of the unknown future. The boys react to their fears and lose control. In the end, they are unable to stop the evil within them, and they have trouble accepting responsibility for Simon’s death. Everyone must accept the evil that is part of our human nature and find ways to control it.