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Fear As The Enemy Of Civilization In Lord Of The Flies

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Your fear is not real. Whatever fear you think is holding you back, does not exist. What does seem to prevail is F.E.A.R; an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. It is an illusion. Something you fabricate in your minds and pretend is real when really there is no threat. There is no threat of immediate physical danger or loss of something loved. So why do you become so afraid? In William Golding’s remarkable novel, Lord of the Flies, a group of young british boys, marooned on a tropical island, are left to fend for themselves, paralyzed by fear. The boys attempt to dissemble their fear by ignoring it and hiding behind painted faces. They make up imaginary creatures, manufacturing fears and allowing themselves to be controlled by it. Thus proving that the boys’ inability to overcome their fears results in their destructive behaviour.

The boys conceal their fear of each other by becoming violent. To begin, they paint their faces creating masks that allow them to forget their fear and rampage in violence. When prompted to partake in the other boys atrocities, the little boys only respond because “The mask compelled them” (Golding 67). These masks are what the boys have created to literally and figuratively hide behind. When they put it on, they are relieved of responsibility and are given anonymity. This causes their evil and violence to overpower their fear resulting in them becoming fond of hunting and killing. Furthermore, the boys choose to be ignorant of the inherent evil in each of them by fearing something external. Piggy struggles to explain his idea of there being no beast, he says, “I know there isn’t no beast—not with claws and all that, I mean— but I know there isn’t no fear, either … unless we get frightened of people” (Golding 90). The other boys don’t understand and instead mock him. They fail to recognize what they should be afraid of is not the imaginary beast that they have created, but each other. This is because each one of them is capable of committing barbaric acts that would harm others. Therefore, because the boys are ignorant and easily manipulated, they are unfit to discern or overcome their fear of each other. Instead, they involve themselves in violence and callous acts.

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The boys are controlled by their fear of the beast. Jack uses the other boys’ fear of the beast to uphold his importance in the tribe. After the boys see the deceased soldier on the beach, they distinguish him as the beast. Jack uses this opportunity to frighten the boys, “‘Quiet!’ shouted Jack.‘You listen. The beast is sitting up there, whatever it is—’ …‘The beast is a hunter’” (Golding 138). For Jack, the beast is his chance to make himself appear stronger and braver than Ralph; he uses the polarizing topic of the beast to draw attention to himself, capitalizing on the boys’ fear of the unknown. By instilling fear, Jack is able to control the boys, he tells them where they can and cannot go. He is equally able to ensure they stay loyal to him because he offers them protection. Additionally, the boys honor the beast in an attempt to create harmony amongst them and it. They violently slaughter a pig and set it up as a peace offering for the beast. Jack proclaims, “This head is for the beast. It’s a gift” (Golding 151).

The boys fear the beast and believe that by leaving it gifts, such as the head of the pig, it will leave them alone. This shows how much the boys have regressed in their civility. They have become very primitive; offering sacrifices to unknown and unreal entities. It’s evident to see the fear of the beast is a powerful tool used against the boys. They allow their fear to dominate them and influence their actions on the island.

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Fear As The Enemy Of Civilization In Lord Of The Flies. (2022, Jun 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 9, 2023, from
“Fear As The Enemy Of Civilization In Lord Of The Flies.” Edubirdie, 16 Jun. 2022,
Fear As The Enemy Of Civilization In Lord Of The Flies. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 9 Dec. 2023].
Fear As The Enemy Of Civilization In Lord Of The Flies [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 16 [cited 2023 Dec 9]. Available from:
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