Napoleon Hill, who was a famous author once stated, “Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice, and is never the result of selfishness.” To achieve major feats, one must not be self centered which is one of the main conclusions that can be drawn from this quote as well as from the book, Lord of the Flies, and the play, The Crucible. Lord of the Flies, written by William Golding, is about the journey of teenagers who are stranded on an island where they are faced with both mental and physical hardships such as the distribution of power among them. The Crucible, is about the Salem Witch Trials and how accusing of witchcraft spread like wildfire throughout Salem. Both of these pieces of art share a common generalized theme, as well as characters that help portray it. In Lord of the Flies and The Crucible, there is a hit of malevolence in human nature causing an imbalanced society due to narcissism as well as selfishness.
In the development of selfishness, arrogance and ego both play a big role. They are the exaggerated sense of self importance that one may feel during certain situations. In Lord of the Flies, Jack possesses these qualities and in the play, The Crucible, Abigail does. These two characters are haunted by their egos and all their actions are in relation to their self centered mindset. To satisfy themselves, they take an evil approach even if it means mentally or physically harming other beings. In the novel, Jack dislikes the fact that Ralph is the leader of the islanders because he himself wants to be chief. He wants to be the person who gives commands to others, and not be the one who follows them. Jack questions once more to the tribe, “‘Hands up,’ said Jack strongly, ‘whoever wants Ralph not to be chief?’ The silence continued, breathless and heavy and full of shame. Slowly the red drained from Jack’s cheeks, then came back with a painful rush,” (Golding, 162). This agitates him tremendously resulting in him leaving the tribe and creating his own where is the leader. He is not able to control his ego, causing the breakup of the islanders. Abigail is also very similar due to her unstable arrogance caused by lust. She is the maid for John Proctor and his wife, Elizabeth Proctor. As time passes after their marriage, Proctor’s tie with Elizabeth get rough and he decides to be in a relationship with Abigail. Proctor soon realizes his mistake and gets back together with Elizabeth which offends Abigail causing her to have enmity towards him. Her ego goes out the roof, and she starts accusing the Proctors of witchcraft without any factual evidence. The usage of these roles reveals how one can be blinded, as well as brainwashed by ego. In history for instance, Alexander The Great was extremely self centered. During one of his breaks from war, he thought he was the son of Zeus (God) and spread his belief throughout Greece. People actually believed him and sent religious delegations. Not only that, but he even named around 70 cities after him calling all of them Alexandria. Golding and Miller also include these characters to show the destructive results that can occur due to people who have this kind of mindset. They don’t understand the correct action to take because they believe all of them are righteous.
What drives or causes this self centered mindset, is because of a struggle that both societies deal with. In other words, the reason for the characters to act this kind of way is due to a specific issue that they come across.. A common connection that shows this can be made to the “beast” in Lord of the Flies, and the accused witches in The Crucible. In the book, the problem is the fact that there is a “beast” roaming around the island trying to devour people. All the islanders are terrified, but a majority of them do not realize that that beast is within them. Simon understands who the real beast is when The Lord of the Flies fictionally says, “‘Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!’ said the head. For a moment or two the forest and all the other dimly appreciated places echoed with the parody of laughter. ‘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?’” (206). None of the islanders other than Simon realize this due to there being no unity and everyone only thinking about themselves rather than them as a whole. In the play, the problem itself is witchcraft and the villagers want to get rid of it to purify Salem. Even though there is no evidence that witches are real, people still believe the accusations as long as they themselves get out of trouble, displaying their selfishness. In both pieces of art, the “beast” and accused witches are most feared everyone. They are also the problem society faces and has to overcome making all of their actions based off of resolving it. If everyone had worked together in the two civilizations rather than doing what would benefit them the most, then everything would have been settled in an instant.
With a scale, there is always two sides with the goal of balancing it out. Most of the times it leans one way, while other times it remains evenly surfaced. In the two forms of art, a majority of the characters are part of the egotistical faction like Jack and Abigail. To balance civilization out, there are characters who act the complete opposite bearing the quality of humility. In the play, Elizabeth Proctor is very humble and acts according to the benefit of others. She is also incredulous about the accusations of women being witches is true. One of the main examples would be when she gives herself up for having a link of witchcraft even though she has no connection. In order to protect her husband, John Proctor, she agrees with the court to hang her. In Golding’s novel, Simon is also very innocent and his actions show this trait. When talking with young islanders, he is kind and not assertive hoping to build a connection with them. He also heeds whatever Ralph or Piggy say without refusing and talking back showing his obedience as well as unselfishness. Golding states in the text, “‘We used his specs,’ said Simon, smearing a black cheek with his forearm. ‘He helped that way,’”(50). This illustrates how he has Piggy’s back when Jack is jeering him. Simon knows that if he stands up for Piggy, Jack’s perspective will change towards him but he still does it anyways. Due to his unselfish behavior, he is the only one that understands that the beast is themselves and not another creature. Golding and Miller use these two characters to illustrate how unselfish people are necessary to balance the weight of selfish people. A great affiliation can be made about these type of people, to Mother Tereasa. She was a missionary and founded the “Order of Missionaries of Charity.” Not only that, but she gave up her income just to help charities which resulted in her begging for food. Her whole life, she devoted her time in helping the needy and making the world a better place. If everyone only does what is best for themselves, society would not function well, because there would be no unity. As a result of this, there has to be people who step up and act according to the means of others.
As a whole, the theme of evil in human nature is present in both, Lord of the Flies, and The Crucible. This theme is shown through many similar characters that express it thoroughly, in the novel and play. As Napoleon Hill stated, selfishness is the cause of failure and can be avoided if one is humble. Jack, for example in the book is very egotistical and lacks judgement causing civilization he is part of, to fall into shambles. In these pieces of art, there is a hindering presence of evil in human nature causing a dysfunctional society due to both selfishness and narcissism. Conclusively, these two abstractions emphasize the importance of humility, and the drawbacks caused by self-indulgence.