The Darkness Of Man's Heart

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade October 2001

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Is man born basically good and then acquire evil from society, or is man born basically evil and then learn values and decency from society? Is it one's psyche that tells him that injuring a fellow human being is wrong; or is it the society around him? William Golding's view of this question is displayed in his famous novel The Lord of the Flies. In this novel, Golding uses specific passages to reveal certain elements of his theme. He uses the concepts of jealousy and the collapse of learned civil behavior to illustrate his theme that mankind is naturally evil, and learns civil behavior from society.

One element that displays Golding's theme is the collapse of civilization that takes place throughout this novel. When the boys first arrive on the island they still have the rules of society to keep pandemonium from breaking out. One basic rule of common sense is not to hit another person with any object.

Golding shows that this role still applies when he writes, "Roger stooped, picked up a stone, aimed, and threw it at Henry""threw it to miss [. . .] Roger gathered a handful of stones and began to throw them. Yet there was a space round Henry, perhaps six yards in diameter, into which he dare not throw. Here, invisible yet strong, was the taboo of the old life"� (62). The unwritten laws of the "old life"� say that hitting anything with a rock is wrong. In other words, in society, there are consequences for hurting another human being. Early in this novel, these rules still apply. The longer they stay on that island, however, the more the rules start to fade. Roger will throw rocks again, with different intentions. Golding writes, "Roger, with delirious abandonment, leaned all his weight...

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