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Defects of Human Nature in Lord of the Flies

The various defects of human nature that characters in Lord of the Flies possess all generate from one elemental psychic force. Describing this basic force and examining William Golding's depiction of this force within characters of the novel, particulary Ralph, illustrate that the defects of the individual do account for the evils that plague society and support Golding's thesis as a plausible explantion of the human condition.

The failings of society remain a constant throughout history, and Golding states that the theme of Lord of the Flies "is an attempt to trace the defects of society back to the defects of human nature" (qtd. in Epstein 204). The remote setting and isolated situation of Lord of the Flies allow for a focused examination of basic human tendencies. The characters of the novel exhibit fundamental flaws of human nature and are ultimately unable to transcend these flaws in order to create a peaceful, harmonious society on the island. Lord of the Flies isolates what is basic to humans by segreating the child characters from the grown-up world, and employing this devise permits Golding to symbolize effectively the failings of society at large. In his Notes on Lord of the Flies, E. L. Epstein explains that the novel manifests "a modern picture of the personality [which] inevitably includes [the] anarchic, amoral driving force the Freudians call the Id [as] the fundamental principle of the Natural Man" (205). Epstein notes that the function of this force is to ensure the survival of the individual and argues that one could "find this great basic drive defined as underlying the most fundamental conclusions of modern thought" (205-206). The rational force of the human psyche predominates over the anarchic or irrational force of the psyche under normal circumstances, but under threatening or extemely stressful situations, dark, irrational impulses are unleashed and behavior becomes erratic or violent. The dra...

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Defects of Human Nature in Lord of the Flies. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 16:31, February 26, 2017, from