Lord of the Flies

In this book a group of boys, stranded on an island, revert to a bestial form of paganism. So is this the existential core of humans? Do we, under duress, become animalistic? Is there in this symbol-minded story, no belief in the essential goodness of humans? Are we simply “bad” at the core?

Does bad exist?

Perhaps a look at history of Pitcairn island might shed some light. It was settled by mutineers of HMS Bounty in 1790. Out of 15 men (9 white mutineers+6 Polynesians), 12 Tahitian women and 1 Tahitian baby girl, only 1 man (John Adams/Alexander Smith), 9 women and 23 children were left upon their discovery in 1808. Most men either died from illness, suicide, or killed each other off (disputes over women, land, and status). Women were assigned to men as wives, and the widows were passed on to other men. Some husbands beat their wives, and on several occasions, women rallied up to kill all men, but both times were unsuccessful. Each time, women were pardoned, but threatened with death next time. At one point, the women also attempted to escape an island on a fishing boat, but were unsuccessful. It sounded like a dysfunctional family dynamic. Different people had different needs. Sometimes, their needs were the same, and oftentimes in conflict.
Their descendants now still live on the island.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_o … rn_Islands
pitcairn.fatefulvoyage.com/peopl … 252BEdward

Although they did preserve their Christian heritage, the latest headlines from the island were allegations of sex child abuse on the island, which are apparently a normal cultural thing on the island.

Youth has a problem with impulse control, and this is what you got in Lord of the Flies -no adults around with that experience of curbing primitive impulses.

Pictairn Island was likely just the opposite. The mutineers from The Bounty and the islanders who joined them from Tahiti were probably comprised of those who had been around long enough to grow old, angry and bitter -these are generally the types who give up on the society of which they are a part. So you get a bunch of old cranks, isolated and settling on an island in the middle of nowhere, where there is a lack of that youthful exuberance that reacts against the old and cranky.

So too much youth is bad, and having too many cantankerous old farts around is also bad. You’ve got to have the right balance: Gilligan’s Island:


“Lord of the Flies” appears to be a thought experiment in refutation of the idea of the noble savage. The Pitcairn Island history tends to agree with the refutation. Young and old, stranded from civilization, tend to revert to savagery, not to any ideal, utopian society as Rousseau imagined.

Bad as in an apple rotten at the core. Many post that society is insane, but is there not something in society that is an antidote to savagery? Is civilization all bad?


I can’t see Pitcairn having much to do with Lord of the Flies. The former was made up of a group of adults - not enough of them being women, in the beginning - the European ones being racists who treated the non-Europeans as less than them. The group was formed from a Mutiny, which meant that they were not choosing to go into the wild, but were self-exiled to it. They may also have had mixed feelings about the mutiny leading to mixed feelings about themselves. They knew if they were found they would be tried and likely killed and also probably had ties to people in Europe that they were forced to lose. And who were these men before this. At the very least they had likely been fairly long term victims of the harsh naval treatment of sailors, perhaps even pressed into service. Pitcairn was hardly a neutral agar agar to test human nature.

If society is dog eat dog, what could adults have taught these children that would not have led to the children’s reversion to savagery. IOW, is not society itself basically savage? The children may have just been playing out adult stereotypes, without the masks of being civil.

I don’t understand what you’re trying to say here, Ierrellus. Was pedophilia of Pitcairn part of human nature (in the absence of punishment), or something that was taught by adults?

Long time since I read that novel, but it seems to me that most of the children were old enough to know right from wrong. Knowing right from wrong, of course, is not the end of the story. Knowing the right thing to do and being able to do it is something that usually takes much more practice. Having an adult around to remind the child of this responsibility is essential. Admittedly, many parents (and or guardians) do a poor job at this, by telling the child one thing, and then setting a poor example -Do as I say, not as I do.

In the case of the Pitcairn children, pedophilia was probably taught to the children by adult practice. For the adults, it was due to the absence of punishment. Children look up to parents as role models. Parents tend to behave in accord with the society in which they find themselves.

This is true. But in the case of Pitcairn’s adults is not society in the role of parenting?

Under duress? Absolutely. Rwanda or Kosovo as example.

Of course even during so called civilized times we’re still very animalistic but few can see that or even want to venture into seeing it to begin with…

There is no good, evil, right, wrong, good, and bad. You’re all familiar with my arguments by now.

Human beings are naturally savage and so our existence is reduced to mere constant savagery.

It is what it is, accept it.

Doomed perhaps without any antidote or cure to what ails it.

I actually made a thread discussing similarities of what you are posting here.


Rousseau was half correct and incorrect.

What Rousseau was correct upon is that the original human beings before the advent of civilization were more independent and free living amongst the natural world. What he was incorrect upon however is supposing human nature was originally good before the advent of civilization for he viewed it through the lens of a fall from grace almost in a Milton sense of paradise lost.

The person who did get human nature quite correct I think is Thomas Hobbes. The problem with Hobbes however is that given human beings savage nature he justified the very need of government to have a stranglehold on humanity to curb it.

As for me I view our natural savagery as the very expression of freedom and independence. I want more of it in the world.

I view domestication and control of this natural savagery as the complete opposite of freedom or independence.

I want to destroy all forms of domestication and control so we can all be liberated to embrace our natural savagery once again. Embrace your primal animalistic wild side. :wink:

Enjoyed your thread–Rousseau Vs Hobbes. But here, do you see any spiritual solutions to problems of innate savagery?

No, I do not.

A wild horse is a beautiful and sacred form of energy; but, for humans, a tamed horse is useful. Parents “tame” children.
Who parents the parents? Is it the society the parents made? The problem with savage or animalistic nature is that it is often devoid of altruism. So is there such a thing as “enlightened selfishness”? Energy harnessed for the public good is effective in promoting a good for all in society.
Lord of the Flies is a parable in which the unharnessed energy of young boys creates a dystopian society.

Do you think that if most of the people you know were on an island ‘without punishment’ they would become pedophiles? Do you really think that punishment is what stops us?