Lord of the Flies

Human Nature Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
Human Nature Theme Icon
Civilization Theme Icon
Savagery and the "Beast" Theme Icon
Spirituality and Religion Theme Icon
The Weak and the Strong Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Lord of the Flies, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Human Nature Theme Icon

William Golding once said that in writing Lord of the Flies he aimed to trace society's flaws back to their source in human nature. By leaving a group of English schoolboys to fend for themselves on a remote jungle island, Golding creates a kind of human nature laboratory in order to examine what happens when the constraints of civilization vanish and raw human nature takes over. In Lord of the Flies, Golding argues that human nature, free from the constraints of society, draws people away from reason toward savagery.

The makeshift civilization the boys form in Lord of the Flies collapses under the weight of their innate savagery: rather than follow rules and work hard, they pursue fun, succumb to fear, and fall to violence. Golding's underlying argument is that human beings are savage by nature, and are moved by primal urges toward selfishness, brutality, and dominance over others. Though the boys think the beast lives in the jungle, Golding makes it clear that it lurks only in their hearts.

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Human Nature ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Human Nature appears in each chapter of Lord of the Flies. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Human Nature Quotes in Lord of the Flies

Below you will find the important quotes in Lord of the Flies related to the theme of Human Nature.
Chapter 1 Quotes
"Aren't there any grownups at all?"
"I don't think so."
The fair boy said this solemnly; but then the delight of a realized ambition overcame him. In the middle of the scar he stood on his head and grinned at the reversed fat boy.
"No grownups!"
Related Characters: Ralph (speaker), Piggy (speaker)
Related Symbols: Adults
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 2 Quotes
"He says he saw the beastie, the snake-thing, and will it come back tonight?"
"But there isn't a beastie!"
"He says in the morning it turned into them things like ropes in the trees and hung in the branches. He says will it come back again tonight?"
"But there isn't a beastie!"
There was no laughter at all now and more grave watching. Ralph pushed both hands through his hair and looked at the little boy in mixed amusement and exasperation.
Related Characters: Ralph (speaker), Piggy (speaker)
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 4 Quotes
Roger stooped, picked up a stone, aimed, and threw it at Henry — threw it to miss. The stone, that token of preposterous time, bounded five yards to Henry's right and fell in the water. Roger gathered a handful of stones and began to throw them. Yet there was a space round Henry, perhaps six yards in diameter, into which he dare not throw. Here, invisible yet strong, was the taboo of the old life. Round the squatting child was the protection of parents and school and policemen and the law.
Related Characters: Roger, Henry
Related Symbols: Adults
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:
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"Kill the pig! Cut her throat! Spill her blood!"
Related Characters: Jack (speaker)
Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:
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His mind was crowded with memories; memories of the knowledge that had come to them when they closed in on the struggling pig, knowledge that they had outwitted a living thing, imposed their will upon it, taken away its life like a long satisfying drink.
Related Characters: Jack
Page Number: 70
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 5 Quotes
What I mean is... Maybe it's only us...
Related Characters: Simon (speaker)
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 8 Quotes
The spear moved forward inch by inch and the terrified squealing became a high-pitched scream. Then Jack found the throat and the hot blood spouted over his hands. The sow collapsed under them and they were heavy and fulfilled upon her.
Related Characters: Jack
Page Number: 135
Explanation and Analysis:
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There isn't anyone to help you. Only me. And I'm the Beast... Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!... 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 the way they are?
Related Characters: Simon
Page Number: 143
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 12 Quotes
What did it mean? A stick sharpened at both ends. What was there in that?
Related Characters: Ralph (speaker)
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:
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His voice rose under the black smoke before the burning wreckage of the island; and infected by that emotion, the other little boys began to shake and sob too. And in the middle of them, with filthy body, matted hair, and unwiped nose, Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.
Related Characters: Ralph, Piggy
Related Symbols: The Island, Fire, Adults
Page Number: 202
Explanation and Analysis:
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