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Every individual has something that releases their inner behaviors lying deep inside them. It’s inevitable, the inner emotions within us all when set off by certain elements or aspects of life, affect how we make our decisions. These particular feelings, which may be unpleasant when brought to the surface intermittently, bring out the beast resting beneath our civilized and ordinary lives. These tipping points within our minds often correspond with the seven deadly sins; greed, lust, sloth, gluttony, envy, wrath, and pride, which all settle on the opposite end of the spectrum of generosity, chastity, hard work, moderation, modesty, love, and contentment. The sins mentioned above are actively seen throughout the novel, Lord of the Flies, which takes place on a desolate island, where a group of English schoolboys are marooned after their plane crashes. Without any mature adult figure on the island, the adolescents quickly change from civilized to savage as a result of capitulating to all of the seven deadly sins associated with the devil. As seen in this book, William Golding postulates that the core of every individual is animalistic and savage, similar to that of a beast, and therefore capable of coming out as you succumb to the deadly sins that make up the beast inside us all.
Pride, a dominant sin often correlating to envy through having and being pleased versus not having and being disappointed. In Lord of the Flies, pride is predominantly displayed through Jack, one of the two main characters/leader figures in the novel. To start, Jack experiences a rush of pride when he is the only boy who isn’t scared while they are exploring castle rock for the beast. In this situation, Jack views the others as cowards and himself as brave, yet readers can still conclude that Jack takes pride in not being unnerved during this circumstance due to his response towards Ralph’s question, for Golding writes, “Jack sneered at them. ‘Frightened?’
‘’Course I’m frightened. Who wouldn’t be?’
’Me’” (Golding, 100). Furthermore, Jack has overcome with pride once again in the aftermath of killing his first pig:
His mind was crowded with memories; memories of the knowledge that had come to
them when they closed in on the struggling pig, the knowledge that they had outwitted a living thing, imposed their will upon it, taken away its life like a long satisfying drink. (70)
As readers, we are able to explore Jack’s mental state during these moments and determine that his excitement stems not from the pride in having food for the group, but experiences pride from having “outwitted” another creature. Overall, pride, as indicated in this fictional story, has a virtuous side because it is not necessarily bad to have pride in oneself, yet too much of this confidence may reveal why it’s considered a deadly sin due to its ability to unmask the envy within someone else.
Envy, another deadly sin, flows out of pride, for one revolves around not having something, and the other around having something. As displayed in this novel through the characters Jack and Ralph, who become envious of each other, envy can be a feeling of anger or resentment because another person has or is something that you desire for yourself. This being said, envy exposes your deepest desires. This aspect of envy is present from the moment the boys decide to carry out a vote, of which Ralph wins, in spite of Jack\’s pronouncement before the vote that he should be chief because he has experience from leading the choir. As displayed by his reactions, Jack is filled with envy due to not being chosen, Golding states, “and the freckles on Jack’s face disappeared under a blush of mortification. He started up, then changed his mind and sat down again while the air rang.” (Golding, 23). This demonstrates the true meaning of envy, as Jack wished he was chief as a result of jealousy towards Ralph, who was voted chief instead. Additionally, this envy can be seen in an alternate direction from Ralph towards Jack, particularly when the boys chant, “‘Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Bash her in.’” meanwhile, “Ralph watched them, envious and resentful.” (Golding, 75). As shown, Ralph is envious of Jack because he has killed a sow, which provided them all meat and a bit of fun and laughter while they sang their chant. However, this act of providing for the tribe is something we as readers commonly associated with the duty of being chief, for this is the main reason why Ralph is envious of Jack’s actions during this part of the novel. With all this in mind, envy spoils our capacity to enjoy the present moment, for we then view our own life as lacking compared to others. Overall, as seen through numerous examples in Lord of the Flies, envy affects the way we view others with that something we wish we had, whereas pride affects the way we perceive ourselves when we have more of that something.
As we’ve learned, envy is a byproduct of pride because it’s the imaginary sense of shame that provokes a longing for objects that will in return provide us a sense of pride. The deadly sins, pride, and envy, are only a few of the many sections that make up the satan, or the beast as referred to in Lord of the Flies by William Golding, inside us all. These aspects of human nature that make the small piece of the devil in everyone act as steps toward the beastly temperament capable of being released. Thus, each deadly sin you succumb to, the beast and devil inside you are a step closer to being set free. Moreover, throughout this novel, Golding has proved that every individual has the potential to grow into a beast by taking on the traits similar to those of the seven deadly sins. It’s influences like these deadly sins that make us question the composition of our inner emotions to determine that the wild, cruel beast is not behind the bars of the cage, but inside us waiting to be unleashed.