Now, if you’re studying Lord of the Flies, it’s likely that at some point you will have to write about the beast and this is one of the more challenging ideas in the story.
The Beast in Lord of the Flies
The Beast is first mentioned by the boy with the mulberry color birthmark in chapter two.
Like many young children, especially those who’ve gone through a traumatic event like an evacuation, a plane crash followed by at least one night spent in total darkness on an uninhabited island.
The boys had a nightmare or let his childish imagination run away with him.
He imagines that the vines on the trees, snakes and are coming to eat him in this form, then the beast is a wild animal.
And so the idea of the beast begins as a physical manifestation of the fear that the boys on the island experience.
One of the most interesting transitions in the book is how the beast changes from the idea of something physical all a snake to something more transcendental. A sort of pagan god that the boys leave sacrifices to in order to keep it on the side.
Ralph is determined to extinguish the idea of the beast from the boys imagination, and many times we hear insane. But I tell you, there isn’t a beast, because Ralph recognizes the danger of allowing this idea to take hold.
However, this determination backfires, although the boys stop talking about it. They don’t stop believing in it, especially after the boy with the multicolored birthmark disappeared at the end of chapter two.
The closest he comes to acknowledging it in these early chapters is in chapter three hearts on the beach when he recognizes that the heart that he and Simon a building serve as a comfort and protection from the beast. Snakes have become a bit of a taboo subject, the word has become shameful.
But what’s also interesting in this extract, is the way in which even some of the older boys are being consumed at night by the same fear as the little ones.
And this is feeding into their belief that the beast is real. Eventually, Ralph realizes his error in not dealing properly and sensibly with the boy’s fears.
And so, in chapter five, he decides to call a meeting to set things straight.
He realizes the need to talk about it, agree that it’s nonsense, so they can start again and be happy.
But the mistake that Ralph has made here is that he’s called this meeting late into the evening.
It’s getting darker as the boys start to discuss the beast and this, as we know is when fear and imagination are at a greatly heightened state.
A number of important developments take place in the boy’s perception of the beast in this chapter beast from water.
The little learn to continue to assert their simple belief that the beast is a real creature with a physical presence on the island. Despite some of the older boys trying to resist with the little and telling them that jack has been everywhere and that there’s no way that a beast to be able to hide.
It’s Percival wins Madison, however, who whispers his belief to jack, that the beast comes out of the sea.
And this once again continues to keep the idea of the beast alive for the boys.
Looking out at the massive Pacific Ocean, they recognize that none of them can be completely certain that Percival is not right.
Simon is the one who has the clearest idea about what the beast really is.
He’s trying to help here, trying to Lessen the Fear of the boys by dismissing the idea of a physical beast.
But he’s an incredibly shy boy for whom speaking his mind in front of his peers is a terrible thing that we sort of fumbles the start.
First, he says that maybe there is a beast which shocks Ralph and the noise, many of the other boys, then, with his nerves, or almost choking him.
He tries to qualify this by saying, maybe it’s only us, and the other boys gear at him for this and say He’s nuts.
And because of this ridicule, Simon buries his knowledge of the beast inside himself and will only articulate his knowledge of the beast privately from now one.
And this is devastating because it’s Simon who first makes the connection between the idea of the beast and human beings.
Simon, who is a sensitive and intuitive boy recognizes that the beast.
They’re growing afraid of is simply they’re growing awareness of their own human nature, and they’re maturing knowledge of evil.
And let’s face it, recognizing your own capacity for evil is a truly fearful thing.
The meeting finally breaks up with the talk of a third idea that the boys have about the beast, which is that it could be a ghost.
The talk of ghosts and the boys signaling they’re joint believe that ghosts exist through a vote takes the beast into the realm of the spiritual, or supernatural, which is exactly the elevated status.
It will attain by the novel’s conclusion with the boys leaving sacrifices for it’s like an angry God that needs to be appeased.
Jack’s view of the beast at the end of this chapter is one that has been pretty consistent with him since chapter two, which is that if there is a beast on the island. Then he will be the one to hunt it and kill it.
It’s something which he uses to his advantage in later chapters when he’s trying to set up his own tribe on the other side of the island and tells the other boys that his hunters will protect them from the beast.
Let’s not forget, for example, the fact that in chapter eight jack says, Yes, the beast is a hunter, just like jack and the language used which connects the jack to the various other ideas that the boys have about the beast is an interesting pattern to trace.
Firstly, there is the connection to the darkness which creates the initial fear in the Netherlands which in turn creates the beast.
In chapter one, the choir introduced as something dark fumbling along, and in chapter seven, we see a stain in the darkness, a stain that was jack.
Then there is the connection between jack in the physical beast, a snake. And also in chapter seven, we find jack being described as moving with a slithering noise before jack slid away from him with a hiss of breath.
Finally, there is a link between the jack and the transcendental beast the beast as a god.
In chapter nine a view from a view to death, jack has succeeded in establishing his own drive with himself as chief and when Ralph and piggy try to reason with him, he’s described as someone who painted garland did who sat there like an idol.
And an idol, as I’m sure you know, means a likeness to a god.
As for Simon, well, he returns to his view of the beast, albeit privately this time when the boys trek across the island towards Castle Rock.
In chapter six beast from the air, he finds the idea of a physical beast faintly ridiculous, because whenever Simon things about the beast, there rose before his inward sight the picture of a human, both heroic and sick.
And this quotation is a really good one for you to use. If you need to get some historical context into your response.
This conception of the beast is the one that heavily influenced Golding’s own view of the nature of humanity because William golden fought in the Navy during World War Two.
And the human that is both heroic and sick is, of course, a soldier capable of great acts of heroism, but sick enough to take the life of other human beings.
This is why the beast air in chapter six is a soldier pilot fighting in the imagine Third World War, which is the almost forgotten backdrop to this novel, who was shot down it jets, but he’s dead before he lands on top of the mountain.
And Golding’s experience of seeing ordinary people becoming violent and killing each other is what influences one of the key messages in this novel, which is that anyone, given the right set of circumstances is capable of evil.
There is nowhere in the novel where this idea is represented more explicitly, but possibly for the first time reading more confusingly than in chapter eight gift for the darkness.
This is where Simon hallucinates his conversation with the Lord of the Flies the pig’s head, which jack Roger and the other boys have cut from the south, they’ve just savagely killed and spiked on a stick as a sacrifice for the beast.
Simon remembers, is an incredibly sensitive boy, who is more in tune with the beauty of the island than any of the other boys.
And in fact is discovered the most beautiful place on the island which he goes to regularly during the evening to experience the sounds and smells of the island in their most refined form.
It is in this place, a place so symbolically linked to the biblical perfection of the Garden of Eden that the killing of the sound takes place.
And Simon has there hidden away, on observed by the hunters seeing the brutality, the torture, and ultimate killing of this animal.
And remember to that Simon already has previous experience of being affected by the heat, he faints, when the choir first appear in chapter one.
Now he’s been sitting in the forest under the direct impact of the Pacific sun for hours becoming more and more dehydrated, and now more traumatized than ever before by the events he has just seen.
No wonder he has the fit that he does, and in this fit, the feelings and not that he’s buried down since chapter five beast from water when he first articulated his understanding of what the beast really is, and was ridiculed for it is released.
If anyone else happened to walk into the clearing that afternoon. They would simply see Simon staring fixedly on a dead pig’s head would have been jammed onto a stick and was now covered with flies.
But Simon, in this moment, having his fit, articulate silently, the knowledge that he’s always had about human nature, that this in front of him now is a physical manifestation of the beast.
The devil within every human soul or the capacity within each of us to be evil. Just think what a bunch of 12-year-olds has just done to this animal.
Let’s not forget that this is the chapter where the title of the book is stated for the only time the pig’s head is the Lord of the Flies.
Why? Because an earlier more primitive name for the devil was Beelzebub. And the literal translation for this is the Lord of the Flies.
The pig’s head appears to speak to Simon. But as I’ve already said, it’s really just the knowledge that Simon has repressed within himself coming out under these extreme circumstances.
And the knowledge is fascinating, not only because Simon recognizes the beast within himself, and all human beings with the line, I’m part of you close, close, close.
But also because, you know, Christ like fashion according to Christian theology. Simon is able to predict his own death, which by the way, occurs also like Christ by trying to bring the truth to the rest of civilization.
And you might well be sitting there thinking to yourself, Well, why write a story about the capacity for evil within human beings using the metaphor of us snake and a paradise island?
But the answer is over 2000 years old when the writers of the Bible first created a metaphor for why sin and evil exist in the world. By writing a story about how a snake entered the heavenly paradise of Eden, and took away the innocence of mankind by giving them knowledge of evil.
And the boys didn’t have this knowledge at the start of the novel.
Just think about Ralph’s excitement and carefree attitude in chapter one.
But they all brought the capacity for evil with them when they crash-landed on the island as evidenced by the snake clasp belt worn by Ralph in chapter one.
The fact that he’s seen taking this belt off might indicate his propensity towards good.
But in later chapters, we see him taking part in a hunt and possibly being involved in the death of Simon and by showing the reader this golden is pointing out how all people have the capacity for evil.
In the end, Ralph is left weeping because he’s gained this knowledge about evil, the darkness of man’s heart. He’s weeping for the end of his more innocent self.