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"I am the Beast" -Lord of the Flies Essay

Kev 1 / 3  
Oct 14, 2009   #1
Trace the development of the concept of the Beast throughout the novel. Show how its role changes over time and how different characters perceive the Beast as time goes on.

"I am the Beast"

In Lord of the Flies, William Golding's 1954 novel depicting a group of schoolboys' decent into mayhem and violence, the Beast takes on many different forms. The boys are stranded on a tropical island after their plane crashes. In the opening pages, Golding alludes to a Beast in the form of war. Piggy nonchalantly says, "Didn't you hear what the pilot said? About the atom bomb? They're all dead" (11). The littluns' fear of the Beast is at first vague and imaginary in nature. The Beast briefly manifests in physical form as the fire that rages across the island and as the dead parachutist that has fallen to the island. At the end of the novel, the boys emerge as the Beast as their violent nature takes hold.

The island is depicted as a paradise and the boys relish their newfound freedom from adult rules. Piggy sees the gravity of the situation and tries to tell the others that "Nobody knows where we are," but the other boys are having too much fun to care (30). The boys point out the presence of fresh water and food and believe their time on the island will be an adventure like in a book. Ralph says, "we can have a good time on this island" (30). This naïve view of their predicament coupled with the lack of concern for the adult pilot foreshadows the downfall of the boys' ties to society and sets the stage for the Beast to take hold of their imaginations. The littluns, with their dependency on and closer ties to grownups, are the first to imagine the Beast. A young boy takes the conch during an assembly and wants to know what the bigger boys will do about the Beastie (31). Ralph tries to convince the youngster that there isn't a snake-thing and there isn't a Beastie. Ralph snatches the conch and tells the boy that "if there was a snake we'd hunt it and kill it" (32). The boys build a fire that soon gets out of control and takes on the characteristics of a Beast as, "The heart of flame leapt nimbly across the gap in the trees and then went swinging and flaring along the whole row of them" (39). Ironically, the littlun who voiced his fears of the Beast is never seen again after the fire. More and more littluns are afraid of the Beast. They theorize that it could be a ghost or something that comes from the sea.

Instead of the sea, the Beast falls from the sky. A battle is being fought above the island and a plane is shot down. The pilot, already dead, falls to the island where his parachute lines tangle in the rocks. "When the breeze blew, the lines would strain taut and some accident of this pull lifted the head and chest upright," animating the dead figure and terrifying Sam and Eric (89). Sam and Eric describe the Beast saying, "It was furry. There was something moving behind its headïwings" (92). The older boys organize a hunting party and go after the Beast. When Piggy insists that someone look after the littluns during the hunt, Jack says "Sucks to the littluns!" indicating a break in the society they had formed. A division of the group threatens the fragile community. Jack and his hunters form one group with their own philosophy and Ralph is the core of the opposing group.

The group of hunters kills a pig in a frenzied and violent attack. Jack, who at the beginning of the novel could not bring himself to kill a pig, now does it with relish. The boys place the sow's head on a spear as an offering to the Beast. Jack's group dresses as savages "with faces of white and red and green rush[ing] out howling, so that the littluns fled screaming" (129). These disguises free Jack's group of convention and leave them feeling "safe from shame or self-consciousness behind the mask of paint" (130). They are reenacting a hunt when Simon stumbles out of the forest and into the frenzy. The mob surrounds Simon, believing him to be the Beast and kills him. A storm envelops the island during the night, carrying the dead parachutist to sea. The tide carries away Simon's lifeless body. Jack tells the other boys that Simon had been the Beast and that "He cameïdisguised" (148). Jack formulates a plan for the return of the Beast saying, "if he comes we'll do our, our dance again" (149). Jack is not phased by Simon's murder and is willing to commit more violence. He may see Simon, Ralph, and Piggy as the Beast, but the Beast is the savage side of human nature that is capable of killing. It is not long until Ralph launches a boulder at Piggy and Ralph as they approach the rocky fortress. The boulder strikes and kills Piggy. Jack attacks, "Viciously, with full intention, he hurled his spear at Ralph. The point tore the skin and flesh over Ralph's ribs" (167). Sam and Eric warn Ralph of the intentions of the hunters: "They hare you , Ralph. [...] They're going to hunt you tomorrow" (174). The boys try to smoke Ralph out of hiding and set the island on fire in the process. The mob has him cornered when he makes a break for it and finds his rescue in the form of a British Naval Officer summoned by the smoke.

The Beast takes on many incarnations in Lord of the Flies, but it is at its core "the darkness of man's heart" (187). It is the Beast that led to the war that plucked the boys from their schools and into the surreal environment of the island. The Beast is the emptiness and fear in the littluns' hearts as they miss their homes. The Beast is the fire that consumes the littlun's life and the Beast is the pilot killed miles above the island. The Beast is most darkly seen in the savage nature of small boys when they become capable of killing. The degeneration of the tenets of civilization. The boys, physically weakened and mentally broken, are rescued from the island by a Navy cruiser intent on its own manhunt with sub-machine guns instead of sharpened sticks.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Oct 15, 2009   #2
Great stuff here. I often start papers like this by writing it this way:

In William Goldings 1954 Lord of the Flies, and so on..

But I think I like your way better. I like the structure of that first sentence... so, in this case it was you giving me advice. Thanks!

I think your first paragraph seems too much like a synopsis. It seems that your thesis statement is that Beast is war at first but that the boys become the beast in the end. That is good, but state it as an assertion you are making: Although the concept of the "Beast" is associated with war at the start of the novel, it gradually becomes clear that...

So, the suggestion I am making is that you revise that intro paragraph just a little, but it is already very good.

This is excellent, great conclusion. The quote from page 187 is perfect there.
Notoman 20 / 419  
Oct 16, 2009   #3
The degeneration of the tenets of civilization.

Fragment! Combine this with the sentence before it and you will be fine.

It is not long until Ralph launches a boulder at Piggy and Ralph as they approach the rocky fortress.

Ralph doesn't luanch the boulder at Ralph and Piggy. Is it Jack? Roger?

"They hare you , Ralph. [...]

Hmmmmm ... they "hare" you. I think this is a typo. "Hate" you?

Nice work bro! Fix the mistakes that I found (and those that I didn't-- if there are any) and take Kevin's advice on the introduction. You tackled a tough concept and did pretty well with it.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Oct 17, 2009   #4
The Beast takes on many incarnations in Lord of the Flies, but it is at its core "the darkness of man's heart" (187).

This is your thesis statement, and your essay might be stronger if you stated it in your introduction too. It is not that the Beast is war, but the part of us that drives us to war. The parallel between the notion of atomic warfare and setting fire to the island would have been much clearer back when the book was written, and MAD seemed all too much of a real possibility.

Also, you are missing some key quotations. An essay on this topic absolutely has to mention:

"There isn't anyone to help you. Only me. And I'm the Beast."
"Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!"
"You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you? Close, close, close! I'm the reason why it's no go? Why
things are what they are?"
OP Kev 1 / 3  
Oct 17, 2009   #5
"There isn't anyone to help you. Only me. And I'm the Beast."
"Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!"
"You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you? Close, close, close! I'm the reason why it's no go? Why
things are what they are?"

ARGH! Those quotes are perfect. Of course, I already turned in my paper. I wish teachers would give out the essay prompt before students had to start writing. It would make life so much easier. I missed those quotes when I was doing my writing. They would have helped a lot of the explanation of theme.

I need to work on the concept of thesis statements. I feel like I generally have stronger conclusions than I do introductions. Maybe it is because I approach things tentatively at first and the concepts become clearer as I work my way through them. For the next paper, I think I will just switch the two.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Oct 18, 2009   #6
It's often a good idea to go back and rewrite your introduction after you are finished, because that's when you really know what you are introducing. Still, your essay was pretty good, so hopefully the teacher likes it too.

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