Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, “The Lottery”, by Shirley Jackson, “The White Circle”, by John Bell Clayton and “The Vigilante” by John Steinbeck all share the theme of mans inherent evil. Lord of the Flies takes place on an island in the Pacific ocean during an atomic war, and there is no adult supervision. “The Lottery” takes place in a small farming community in the present day. “The White Circle” is set in the turn of the century Virginia on a Large farm. “The Vigilante” takes place down south in a town with strong racist beliefs.
Jack from Lord of the Flies is an insecure boy who leads a group of savages through injustice and violence. The Townspeople in “The Lottery” are focused as a group to keep up the traditions of their town, that include an annual stoning of a random person(Tess). Tucker, a normal boy in “The White Circle” is driven into violence after consistent torment from his neighbor Anvil. Mike in “The Vigilante” is a mild mannered southern white with racist beliefs that are carried out on a black man.
Ralph who is against Jack in Lord of the Flies is being over-run by Jacks violence and bloodlust, until an officer rescues the group to find out that the boys arent playing and have reached the end of their innocence. The towns people gather annually to choose through a lottery the victim of a violent stoning for the harvest, when a prominent citizen Tess is chosen she tries to over turn the verdict, she is killed. Tucker is the son of a wealthy farmer and is under constant torment by his neighbor Anvil, he cracks and attempts to kill Anvil in a brutal attack with hay forks, Anvil avoids death and realizes Tuckers deep rooted evil.
Mike along with the men of his village decide to take the law into their own hands against a black man, they beat and kill him then hang him from a tree. Mike realizes later how satisfied he is from this act. These violent plots all have a very important effect on the theme of these four stories. The four stories illustrate mans inherent evil through characters, setting and actions. The characters Jack of Lord of the Flies, the Townspeople in “The Lottery”, Tucker from “The White Circle”, and Mike from “The Vigilante” show the inherent evil of man when they commit vicious actions against others out of impulse or tradition.
For instance when Jack kills Simon in a spontaneous rage for mistaking him for the beast who is a concoction of the boys imagination (“Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood” P. 138). In particular the evil of the character is also present in the towns people when they brutally stone Tess out of tradition. (” It isnt fair she said. A stone hit her on the side of the head. “P. 301). To further illustrate the characters evil Tucker shows his transition into a dangerous killer after constant torment. (“I was lying there with a towering homicidal detestation, planning to kill Anvil. “P. 34).
Also when Mike lynches the black man he is now getting a positive feeling from his crime. (“Makes you feel kind of cut off and tired, but kind of satisfied too”P. 140). The inherent evil of man and society portrayed through the characters are present in these examples and shows how evil isnt always visible. The setting influences the inherent evil of man because it set the mood for the characters behaviors. The unsupervised island played a major role in the decay of civilization and the return to primitiveness. (“This is an island. At least I think its an island. Perhaps there arent any grownups anywhere. ” P. 7).
For the Townspeople the time of year for the lottery is an uneasy time where a great deal of suspense builds up all around them. (“the feeling of liberty sat uneasily on most of them. “P. 291). All tucker needed to end his torture from Anvil was a weapon and an excuse, the forks represented his way out. (“the forks had vicious sharp prongs that had never descended the floor except one occasion” P. 37). Sometimes it takes a crowd of people to bring out the inherent evil of man in the case of Mike. (“a crowd of people still stood under the elm trees, vaguely lighted by a blue street light two blocks away. “P. 133).
The setting provides the mood and sometimes even the means to carry out the characters evil behavior. The violent actions taken by the characters illustrate mans inherent evil. (“The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow chin to knee” P. 164)The act of the kill in “The Lottery” is very disturbing the way they use large stones to kill Tess. (“Mrs. Delacroix selected a stone so large she had to pick it up with both hands. Come on, she said. Hurry up . “P. 301). When Tucker chose to kill Anvil he decided to use large forks that would rip him in half. (“the forks whizzing decent was accompanied by that peculiar ripping noise.
P. 38). Mike along with the villagers in “The Vigilante” first dehumanized the black man and then beat him which was very cruel. (“he got up, and then somebody else socked him and he went over and hit his head on the cement floor. “P. 137). The manner in which the characters commit the violent actions helps show the evil of man. In the end of each story the main character(s) who has shown the trait of evil has either succeeded in their goal or realized the error of their ways. In the end of Lord of the Flies Jack is broken down to tears as he realizes the mistakes he has made.
At the end of “The Lottery” the Townspeople have once again saved the harvest from some unknown force by slaughtering a member of the community. In the end of “The White Circle” Tucker doesnt kill Anvil but learns an important lesson about perspective. Finally in the last scene of “The Vigilante” Mike realizes just how much he liked killing the black man. The theme of mans inherent evil is carried out throughout society today where people commit acts such as the lynching of blacks due to a deep hate or the killing of a loved one, where at the time seems to be the only answer.