How Does Golding Use the ‘Beast’ in the Novel as a Whole? Essay Sample
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- Category: novel
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How Does Golding Use the ‘Beast’ in the Novel as a Whole? Essay Sample
The beast is the existent but undeveloped evil in human kind. The novel shows how under the right circumstances, this beast will reveal itself.
In the novel the beast is used symbolically to hide the fact that the boys are being influenced by iniquity and descending into savagery. Many of the boys focus their fears solely on the beast. This means that they can shun the responsibility of self knowledge and prolong the time before they have to accept that they are losing their grasp on civilization. Jack takes advantage of one boys fears by almost clarifying them. He tells the boys that when he goes hunting, he and his hunters will ‘look for the snake thing too’. This may have planted doubt in some of the boys minds, who previously didn’t believe in the beast. The beast is the soul and minds of the boys. It portrays many of the common fears which are ripe when ‘[they all] have to look after [themselves]’. There are no adults present on the island to give comfort and security. Simon begins to act as that adult. He says that ‘maybe it’s only [them]’. This infers that he does not believe that there is an actual beast. He may believe that it is only the boys imaginations. In the narrative part following this speech, Golding writes ‘Simon became inarticulate in his effort to express mankind’s essential illness.’ This shows that Simon was aware of the boys fragile state of mind.
The beast illuminates the boys sense of loss and need for security. During a discussion about the beast Ralph looks into the crowd and sees the boys ‘huddled into a tight knot of bodies in the central grass.’ The boys do not always sit like this during an assembly. In this instance, the need for security was heightened during a discussion about the beast which made the boys more frightened than normal. The boys must have had many fears and the beast gave them something to focus them on. If there had never been a beast for the boys to fear, the boys may have become paranoid and begun to fear each other. This would have lead to separation and possibly more deaths.
The dance is another example of when the beast from within is revealed. The boys enter into a savage dance whilst chanting ‘kill the beast. Cut his throat, spill his blood, do him in’. The boys are so caught up in the savagery that they allow their fear to take them over. They act on impulse and believe Simon to be the beast. They proceed to pommel him with sticks until he falls over a cliff.
The boys may have had the fear that is associated with guilt. This can be related to Simon’s death. All the boys were involved in Simon’s death and all the boys believed that they were killing the beast. Their fear had overtaken their ability to think things through and they became caught up in an extremely savage act. The next day Piggy and Ralph realize that what happened the night before was actually the murder of Simon. Piggy tries to get Ralph to say that they were not involved in the dance, but Ralph knows that they were, even if only slightly. Ralph admits to Piggy that ‘[he is] frightened. Of [them].’ Even though the supposed beast has been killed, the fear has not gone.
Simon was in fact going to tell the others that the beast on the mountain was actually a dead parachutist. ‘There was a speck above the island, a figure dropping swiftly beneath a parachute a figure which had dangling limbs’. This figure was a pilot whose plane had been shot down. The boys could only see a flapping, a sort of pulsating on top of the mountain. Jack and Ralph attempt to climb the mountain and see what is there but are scared away. Later Simon climbs the mountain and sees the reality. ‘Simon felt a flicker of incredulity, a beast with claws that scratched, that sat on the mountain top. However Simon thought of the beast there rose an inward sight, the picture of a human at once heroic and sick’. The parachutist had been dead for quite a while and there were a lot of flies swarming around the corpse. This symbolizes the Lord of the Flies eating away at civilization.
Samneric say that ‘[they have] seen [the beast] with [their] own eyes’. They describe it as ‘furry’ with ‘wings’ and ‘eyes’ ‘teeth’ ‘claws’ and they say that ‘the beast followed [them]’ and that it ‘nearly touched [Eric]’. This is all fiction created by their over active imaginations. The twins show fear as Eric’s face is described as ‘fearful’
The beast from within is revealed through many events and different characters. The release of the trapped pig symbolizes the beginning of the release of the beast from within. Jack cannot bring himself to cut the pigs throat ‘[he] knew very well why he hadn’t [cut the pigs throat]: because of the enormity of the knife descending and cutting into the living flesh, because of the unbelievable blood.’ This is at the beginning of the novel and shows that, even Jack, who has the most savage tendencies, has not yet allowed the beast within him to reveal itself.
After a large fire made ‘a quarter of a mile of forest savage with smoke and flame’ Piggy realizes that ‘littl’un, with the mark on his face’ is missing. Piggy gets irate and Ralph says that he told Piggy ‘to get a list of names’. Piggy explains that this was an impossible task and that he has no idea how may ‘littl’uns’ there are. Ralph plainly exclaims ‘if you didn’t, you didn’t’. Ralph shows a lack of compassion for the littl’un at this stage, which is uncharacteristic of him. Piggy wonders about the missing boy and Ralph says shamefully ‘perhaps he went back to the, the-‘. This shows that Ralph did not want to see what really happened. What really happened was that Ralph was callous and negligent as chief and this lead to the death of a boy. Ralph is displaying the ‘beast’ from within in this incident.
Simon tries to tell Ralph and the others that he believes that the beast is all in their imaginations. This claim is rubbished by Jack’s expression of ‘on crude expressive syllable’ which breaks the assembly off the subject and renders Simon unable to make his point. The boys are not listening to Simon who in fact is correct. This shows that they do not want to accept that the beast does not exist.
The ‘littl’uns’ are the first to mention a ‘beastie’ or ‘snake-thing’. The boy with ‘one side of his face blotted out by a mulberry coloured birthmark’ tells an assembly that ‘the beastie [comes] in the dark’ he also said ‘it came, and went away again an’ came back and wanted to eat him’. Ralph tries to explain this rationally by saying ‘[the boy] was dreaming’ and that ‘he must have had a nightmare. Stumbling about among all those creepers’. It is quite easy for young children to see creatures in the shadows. The ‘littl’un’ may have woken in the night and seen a creeper swinging in the dark; this may have resembled a snake. The fear of the ‘snake-thing’ or the creepers may suggest a fear of the jungle and the fact that it is an unknown place to the boys. Although there are the ‘big’uns’ as well as the ‘littl’uns’, the ‘littl’uns’ may be craving an adult presence to put aside their fears and act as a comfort.
As civilization is creeping away from the boys, their fear also increases. As their fear increases ‘the beast’ gets a tighter hold on the boys’ minds and actions, influencing many major situations.