Evil: The Covering Over the Divinity Within
“No one who conjures up the most evil of those half-tamed demons that inhabit the human breast and seeks to wrestle with them can expect to come through the struggle unscathed.” -Dora (Complete Psychological Works)
There exists an all poweful force in this universe that makes man fall into an eternal abyss of illusion and hell. It is called Maya (Cosmic Illusion) by the Vedanta and “evil” by the English It wounds the opponent always, many times almost fatally. It is the most ferocious, wild, and swinish beast in existence. Sometimes a mere glance at it can provoke it to attack. There is only weapon that can kill this “evil”, that can wipe it away once and for all, that can triumph over all else: and that is the Highest Good. In Golding’s Lord of the Flies, through the characters and symbolic happenings, it is shown that in all being lies this Maya, or illusion which we call evil, and the Highest Good and if either of these are dove into, astounding effects on the human heart are inevitable.
Golding shows that how even within innocent school boys, there lies this tremendous force of illusion. As he builds up his novel, he reveals how evil manifests itself in different ways until it reaches its climactic maximum. The story can be said to be an allegory of present day society, for evil is not just in the pages of books but is a reality that affects the world. Golding makes his central theme very clear when the pig’s skull, which represent evil, is speaking to Simon. The Beast says, “Fancy thinking the beast was something that you could hunt and kill!” Evil is not something in gross form that one can handle by physical means. “You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you? Close, close, close!”(143) As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The only devils in the world are the ones running around in our own hearts.” With the manifestation of these devils, our hearts as well as the hearts of others are scarred more and more. “I’m the reason why it’s no go? Why things are what they are?,” says the Beast. All of the characters in the book, Ralph, Jack, Piggy, Samneric, the rest of the biguns, and all of the littluns and even Simon are injured and “scathed” as they battle a force which they are just discovering and find no means to fight.
Ralph, one of the most important characters of the novel, is scathed by the “beast” or “evil” as he goes closer and closer to it and finally confronts it. When he first discovers himself on the island, which can be compared to the battle ground of the heart, he stands on his head in a playful mood, innocent and ignorant of the inevitable war of the future. “Ralph spoke to himself, sounding the bass strings of delight. ‘Whizzoh!’” When he takes the role of chief, he understands the importance of rules and order. However, as he is exposed to the amoral behavior from most of the biguns, and with no “grown-ups” to enforce order, he gets his very first glimpse of evil creeping itself into the picture. This first glimpse starts his endless and progressing helplessness; as without order he cannot keep the fire burning which is his only hope for survival. Ralph starts to know evil more prominently when Jack takes Piggy’s glasses. One cxan see that evil slowly takes control over. little by little, as he finds joy in participating in the hunt. “‘I hit him all right The spear stuck in. I wounded him!’ He sunned himself in their new respect and felt that hunting was good after all . . .” It happens sometimes, that when one is badly cut, one does not notice it at first, and only afterwards notices it. Ralph notices the big gash in his heart; the wound that evil left when it possessed him to help in the killing of Simon. When he is trapped in the forest at the end of the novel, with savages all around him, he has a stick which is pointed on both sides. This stick signifies the eternal war of good and evil. “Waht could they do? Beat him ? . . . Kill him? A stick sharpened at both ends.” Ralph is surrounded by evil and runs to escape with the last bit of goodness as his weapon. When Ralph is confronted by the officer, he starts wailing and bawling with the littluns, for he cannot understand the nature of this force which made innocent school boys become animalistic killers. The guilt, the shame, and most of all the terrible fear resulting from all of these traumatizing experiences deeply scathes Ralph beyond comprehension.
Of all the characters in the book, it can be said that Jack was the most possessed by evil and was therefore scathed deeply by it. At the beginning of the novel, Jack is preoccupied with being able to hunt and kill a pig for food and he tries several times, but fails; since evil has not possessed him yet, he cannot bring himself to kill a living being. “‘I was choosing a place,’ said Jack. ‘I was just waiting for a moment to decide where to stab him.’ . . . ‘If I could only get a pig!’” But slowly, the evil possesses him more and more; he not only can hunt, but thoroughly enjoys it. “‘I cut the pig’s throat,’ said Jack, proudly . . .” One can see the progresion of evil in higher degrees from comparing the following quotes. “He noticed blood on his hands and grimaced distastefully, looked for something on which to clean them , then wiped them on his shorts and laughed.” Later in the novel, after a hunt, “Jack grabbed Maurice and rubbed the stuff over his cheeks.” Jack slowly forms his own group and the transformation from human being to savage is complete. The climactic possession of evil over Ralph is when he makes the decision to hunt Ralph, a living human-being. The difference between Ralph and Jack was that Ralph was immoral, being conscious of his actions being wrong and being able to reflect on the matter. Jack however, was amoral, losing all conception of what morality is in the first place from; Maya had completely taken hontrol over him. Jack’s scars from evil are so deep that he doesn’t realize them at all.
Jack and Ralph dealt with the theme of evil in the novel, but Simon is one of the most important characters of the novel, since his charcater deals with the aspect of the theme concerning the Highest Good. What is this Highest Good? It is the divinity or God present in all beings. Simon represents the concept of a savior, messiah or incarnation of God. Simon contemplates in the forest and discovers the dead man in the parachute, which the boys think is the beast. He confronts “the beast” and it says to him, “Thisd is ridiculous, you know perfectly well that you’ll meet me down there- so don’t try to escape!” By this Simon understands that the only devils in the world are the ones inside the heart and that the only war that should take place is in the heart for the triumph of the Highest Good. “He crawled forward and soon he understood . . . The beast was harmless and horrible.” This principle has been taught by many sages and prophets. For example, Christ came to deliver a message to the people and destroy evil. Christ said, “The kingdom of heaven is within you,” which exhorts the inevitable triumph of Divinity over evil. However, because of the evil of the Roman society, they crucified him. He was the deliverer and savior of the people and yet they killed him. Simon was about to solve the boys problem: the beast. The beast was at the root of all the confusion and hell. Simon was to save them and tell them that the projection and illusion of their own minds. “. . . and the news must reach the others.” Simon, the boys’ savior, was also killed. The importance of the character Simon is that he points the way out from hell, as true spirituality always does.
The message of Golding’s philosophy can easily be undersood in the light of the Indian philosophy of Vedanta, more commonly known as Hinduism. It exhorts that God is within every being, the Highest Good. This highest good is in actuality the only substance and Reality of this universe. There is nothing in this universe but God. Maya, or Cosmic Illusion covers up in each man the Indivivible and Supreme Soul of man by the impurities collected from many lives. The more evil one indulges in, like hate, anger, greed, attachment, jealousy, evil, lust, etc., the more you cover up the God within you. The more you dive into moral actions, and the more mindful and prayerful you are toward God, the more evil is scratched away and the glory of the Soul of man is revealed little by little. When finally, all this Maya or evil is scratched away by repeated efforts and God’s grace the light of the Soul illumines the mind and one discovers that this “beast” and this “evil” never existed in the first place. They were mere mirages; projections of the drunk mind. As the great Swami Vivekananda (a great preacher revivor of Vedanta who lived in the 19th century) said, “All will be metamorphosed as soon as you begin to see things in that light. If you put God in your every movement, in your conversation, in your form, in everything, the whole scene changes, and the world, instead of appearing as one of woe and misery, will become a heaven. . . . Many do not know what an infinite mine of bliss is in them, around them, everywhere; they have not yet discovered it. What is a demoniacal world.? The Vedanta says, ignorance [or evil]. We are crying of thirst sitting on the banks of the mightiest river. We are dying of hunger sitting near heaps of food. Here is the blissful universe, yet we do not find it . . . We are in it all the time, and we are always mistaking it. Religion proposes to find this out for us. Neither death nor disease, nor sorrow, nor misery, nor discontent is there. All is Perfect Union and Perfect Bliss. For whom should one mourn then? In the Reality, there is no death, there is no misery; in the Reality, there is no one to mourn for, no one to be sorry for. He has penetrated everything, the Pure One, the Formless, the Bodiless, the Stainless.”(Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume II) Simon, through contemplation and anylictical discovery, allegorically comes to this ultimate realization. However, as the others dive deeper and deeper into evil, some more than others, and, as Dora mentions, are scathed more and more, they cover up this glorious Divinity within. This is the cause of their misery and the terrible gashes across their heart.