The Nature of the Beast

Shawn Huang and Nick Gutierrez

Engagement Activity

In this engagement activity, Nick and I want everyone to stand relatively close to the center of the classroom. We have some candy that we would like to hand out, and hopefully, each of you will be able to get a piece.

Overview

The nature of the beast is the central and most elusive idea in The Lord Of the Flies. Just as the true identity of the "beast" in our interactive activity was the savagery of everyone but the actual beast, the beast in the lord of the flies was not the pig head but the evil human nature of the boys themselves. Our presentation will reveal alternate views of the beast by different characters in an attempt to interpret the true nature of the beast.

Passage #1

"The thing is--fear can't hurt you any more than a dream. There aren't any beasts to be afraid of on this island" (Golding 63).

Analysis #1

Initially, there are rumors of a beast roaming around the island. Without adults or the orderly governance of higher society, the children begin to wonder (and fear, in the case of the littluns) if such a savage could exist. The quote above comes from the point of view of the bigger kids, who believe that the beasts are as real as ghosts, and that they shouldn't cower in the face of fear, because fear cannot cause any harm. However, what the children don't know yet is that fear is a just a catalyst for more harm to come.

Passage #2

"Simon became inarticulate in his effort to express mankind's essential illness" (Golding 98).

Analysis #2

Simon, a reticent boy who is actually very mature, has already discovered the faults within man. He knows that the beast is probably not what the children imagine it to be. The littluns think that the beast may be a monster or a wild animal, but Simon knows that the beast is already closer to them than they may think. Sadly, he is unable to voice his opinion during the meetings as he is often being overshadowed and dominated by the other leaders.

Passage #3

"'I don't agree with all Jack said, but with some. 'Course there isn't a beast in the forest. How could there be? What would a beast eat?' 'Pig.' 'We eat pig'" (Golding 63).

Analysis #3

Foreshadowing a connection between man and beast, Golding compares the diet of the children with the diet of the beast. The general impression of a beast gives people the image of a carnivorous, merciless creature, a creature that kills to live and lives to kill. It's too bad that there aren't any mirrors on the island.

Passage #4

"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" (Golding 175).

Analysis #4

Reduced to savages and fueled by fear, the children assume that any incoming "threat" is the beast. They unleashed their wild side and "screamed, struck, bit, tore". The supposed beast was mauled to death by his fellow beasts. Simon succumbs to the de-evolution of man. However, it was not just de-evolution; savagery was already an existent problem that has remained hidden in the shadows of societal order.

Passage #5

"'Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill... You knew, didn't you... I'm part of you... Why things are what they are'" (Golding 164).

Analysis #5

The Lord of the Flies "speaks" to Simon, revealing that the beast was neither a monster nor a wild animal. It was man. Although, Simon already knew that. The beast is part of every person, and as stated by The Lord of the Flies, it is "why things are what they are". The beast exists naturally in everyone, and everyone is a beast.

Conclusion

The "beast" is simply a concept that describes the savagery that remains suppressed by man's rationality. Under normal societal order, the beast is kept in a cage. However, when order is non-existent, so is the cage, and thus, the "beast" may roam free. The existence of a "beast" coupled with the fear and chaos are the driving forces behind the character and societal development in The Lord of the Flies, just as our inner evil nature is the driving force behind much of our lives.

Discussion Questions

1. Is the defintion of "the nature of the beast" impersonal/objective or does it vary from character to character?

2. What brings "the beast" out in you?

3. What is the role of fear in waking up the beast? Is fear the catalyst that brings out our in evil?

4. Is human nature itself evil? Does the beast lie concealed in each one of us?

5. Can you think of any examples of people in real life who unleashed their inner beast? Who is the most beastly?