The Beast in Man within the Freedom of Choices and Corruption of Ideologies: Argumentative Essay

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The potential for good and evil transpires in all individuals. For centuries we have found consolation in the safety of but one side of the argument. The argument being whether or not man is inherently good, and the control over the mechanistic qualities of which would constitute an explicit stance on the former. The novel In Cold Blood By Truman Capote as well as Lord Of The Flies by William Golding conveys unique messages that aid in enlightening the nature of man. The divergent views of inherent goodness can be represented by philosophical masterminds Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Thomas Hobbes.

Rousseau stands for the idea that humanity is instinctively kind, while Hobbes for Humanity’s natural selfishness. The interchangeability of qualities between characters in the novels provide ample truth in that there is no such thing as inherent goodness and vice versa. There is plenty of evidence of human tendencies for kindness as well as selfishness. The novel In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote, illustrates this when protagonist Perry claims to have liked Mr. Clutter, and subsequently murders him, “I didn’t want to harm the man. I thought he was a very nice gentleman. Soft-spoken. I thought so right up to the moment I cut his throat”(Capote 244). Perry acknowledges his desire not to harm Mr. Clutter, even implying the discord between his thoughts and actions through his lack of remorse. While it would be believed that Perry’s severe mental state is what led him to commit such an act, Jean-Jacques Rousseau explains that is not the case. According to Rousseau, man is psychologically and spiritually free when not enslaved to the artificial needs that characterize modern society. Furthermore, Man’s enslavement to his own needs is responsible for societal ills, from exploitation and domination of others to poor self-esteem and depression. This provides the notion that Perry is enslaved to his artificial needs and illnesses that are derived from deep-rooted childhood trauma. Because of this, Perry has scrambled down a path of societal driven ills. Yet, Perry’s capacity for kindness remains prevalent throughout the novel, proving that you cannot have one(evil) without the other(kindness). With politics, the debate becomes all that much harder to settle. Given the social significance, any situation is further intensified.

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Rousseau’s belief in essential human goodness and Hobbes’s cynical view of human motives essentially lay out the plot of the novel Lord Of The Flies. In their stranded and dire situation, the need for democracy is violently clear to them and a battle of power commences. The vacillation of the boys' beliefs throughout the novel is finally addressed by arguably the most moral of the bunch. Piggy, a cherished character’s last words were, “Which is better — to have laws and agree, or to hunt and kill?”(Golding 180). This quote exposes the basis of thought throughout the novel, as well as in this excerpt. The two main powers Ralph and Jack clash and argue the methods of their ways, and the conch(the symbol of their democracy is shattered). Jack's assumed moral high ground ultimately remains.

The protagonist Ralph is represented by the former of the quote, as he believes in goodness as well as social justice while also having faith in the masses. However, Jack being the antagonist is represented by the ladder; he cherishes societal control and hierarchy whilst also accepting the inevitability of war. These qualities are akin to the likes of Rousseau and Hobbes. By fault of the Human Condition however, these definitions of character can be swapped between Ralph and Jack as they both demonstrate similar qualities throughout the novel. When Ralph gives in to the pressure of his peers and abuses Simon alongside them, his morals falter and he briefly gives way to the mob mentality. He and Piggy express immense remorse, “I'm frightened. Of us. I want to go home, Oh God, I want to go home”(Golding, 140). This panicky sense they feel after doing something they strongly consider not to be good, shows their consistent effort to be morally correct. Similarly when Jack adheres to basic morality in the very beginning, “I agree with Ralph. We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all, we’re not savages. We’re English, and the English are best at everything. So we’ve got to do the right things”(2). Here, Jack asserts the importance of democracy as well as demonstrates the importance of doing the right thing. This is contrary to his selfish ideals in that he is typically apprehensive about the thought of agreeing upon anything, much less with Ralph.

Ironically, Jack mentions them not being savages, however, he could be compared to exactly that later on in the book. The two boys work hard to maintain their appearance of good and bad but cannot escape the inevitability of the alternatives. In Chinese philosophy, Yin Yang represents the concept of dualism. Shows a balance between two opposites with a portion of the opposite element in each section. The Yin Yang symbol is ultimately representative of good and evil and how it is an indivisible whole. Seemingly opposite or contrary forces may be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. The indivisibility of the Yin Yang is in relation to the concept that no one person is simply good or evil. It provides a visual for the ever battling good and evil that resides in us all, furthering the claim that the potential for good and evil occurs in every individual. The goodness of man can be intensified and corrupted, just as selfishness can be exaggerated or reduced. Side by side with our destructive capacity is our constructive capacity, our capacity to do good and be good. It is clear that we all have the capacity for goodness, as well as the capacity for evil. The beast in man lies in the freedom of our choices and corruption of our ideologies, due to societal constraints and our personal experiences.

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The Beast in Man within the Freedom of Choices and Corruption of Ideologies: Argumentative Essay. (2022, July 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 22, 2024, from
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