Fear as a Motivator

Megan Allen, Ashlyn Singer, Joy Kim


Fear- A distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc.

(the threat can be real or imagined)

Fear is the body's first recognition of danger, and is used as a warning mechanism to get to a safer situation. Fear is often derived from things we don't know, but it can be caused by knowing too much. There are different stages of fear, ranging from being a little frightened, or completely in survival mode. Fear is what motivates us to keep living. Without fear, there wouldn't be a need for life, because we wouldn't fear death or pain.

Example of motivation by fear

Batman Begins - Official Trailer



"'Then people started getting frightened.'

A murmur, almost a moan, rose and passed away. Jack had stopped whittling. Ralph went on, abruptly.

'But that's littluns' talk. We'll get that straight. So the last part, the bit we can all talk about, is kind of deciding on the fear.'

The hair was creeping into his eyes again.

' We've got to talk about this fear and decide there's nothing in it. I'm frightened myself, sometimes; only that's nonsense! Like bogies. Then, when we've decided, we can start again and be careful about things like the fire.' (Golding 62)"

This quote shows the motivation that fear gives the boys into going into a state of almost denial. They are not only denying the existence of a beast at this moment, but they are also denying the feeling of helplessness and vulnerability that they are facing.


"In front of them, only three or four yards away, was a rock-like hump where no rock should be. Ralph could hear a tiny chattering noise coming from somewhere-perhaps from his own mouth. He bound himself together with his will, fused his fear and loathing into hatred, and stood up. He took two leaden steps forward. (Golding 94)"
The fear that Ralph encounters at this moment is used as a driving mechanism for his onward journey. This fear is a challenger because it tests him on his willingness to keep going, and forces him to go to a point that is extreme and uncomfortable.


"Don't scream. You'l get back. Now he's seen you. He's making sure. A stick sharpened. Ralph screamed, a scream of fright and anger and desperation. His legs straightened,the screams became continuous and foaming. He shot forward, burst the thicket, was in the open, screaming, snarling,bloody. He swung the stake and the savage tumbled over; but there were others coming toward him, crying out. He swerved as a spear flew past and then was silent, running. (Golding 153)"
The fear that Ralph has in this moment is all-consuming. His only thought right now, is of how to escape and not get killed. When you are in very high pressure situations and your survival instincts are kicking in, along with adrenaline, fear is the biggest motivator that is used by our bodies to stay alive.


"It was crying out against the abominable noise something about a body on the hill. The beast struggled forward, broke the ring and fell over the steep edge of the rock to the sand by the water. At once the crowd surged after it, poured down the rock, leapt on to the beast, screamed, struck, bit, tore. There were no words, and no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws. (Goulding 117)"
This is when the fear of the beast and the unknown completely takes over the minds of the boys and drives them into murdring Simon. The fear of getting killed by the beast was so strong, that it consumed every thought they had, and put them on edge. They were so ready to kill and so used to it by now that they didn't really care what/who they killed.


"They were all running, all crying out madly. He could hear them crashing in the undergrowth and on the left was the hot, bright thunder of the fire. He forgot his wounds, his hunger and thirst, and became fear; hopeless fear on flying feet, rushing through the forest toward the open beach. Spots jumped before his eyes and turned into red circles that expanded quickly till they passed out of sight. Below him someone's legs were getting tired and the desperate ululation advanced like a jagged fringe of menace and was almost overhead. (Golding 153)"
Ralph is in a very dangerous situation at this point, running for his life from Jack and the other boys. Throughout the book he has tried continuously to remain human, meaning not to give himself over to his instincts and become a savage. But at this moment, he completely give up fighting, and lets his instincts take over. His fear has motivated him to this point, and is giving him the skills to get out of his situation and into safety.

In Conclusion...

Fear's main motivation is change. That change can be in a variety of ways, ranging from changing social order, changing your current condition, or changing who you are in order to survive. These changes caused by fear are all exemplified in Lord of the Flies, but there are many different shapes and forms of change that is motivated by fear. Without fear, nothing would get done, and nothing would be accomplished. Without fear life wouldn't be needed. It is perfectly normal to fear and to fear death, in fact that's what are nature is.


1. How has fear been used as a motivator in other pieces of literature that we have read previously this year?

2. How is fear used as a motivator in our schools/ world today?

3. Which character/ characters are more impacted by the motivation of fear throughout the novel?

4. When can fear cause you to do good things? When can it cause you to do bad things?

5. Is it better to overcome your fear or surrender to it, in order to make progress?

Works Cited

Golding, William. Lord of the flies. New York: Coward-McCann, 1962. Print.