Lord of the Flies – Applying John Locke’s Theory of the State of Nature In John Locke’s literary works, his intention was to convey an understanding of political power. He thought in order to do so people must examine the origins of this power, and determine what state men are in naturally. This state of nature is as follows; “a state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their positions and persons, as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature.” (http://mypage.direct.ca/e/ebyrne/LOF.html) According to Locke, the natural state of humanity is one in which there is no civil or political authority. He wrote, “The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which treats everyone equally. Reason, which is that law, teaches all mankindthat being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health or possessions.” (http://rjgeib.com/thoughts/constitution/locke-bio .html) This theory is good, but as it showed in “Lord of the Flies”, nature does not always work this way.
Men are not perfect and naturally separate each other into stereotyped groups. The boys did manage to form some government at first, but even then they were not all treated equally. Their differences lead them to separation. Their separation caused some members of the group to be cast out, such as Ralph and Piggy. The boys were cast out because they wouldn’t participate in the savagery that the others did. This proved Locke’s theory to be, at least in some senses, wrong. “Lord of the Flies”.
(1963). Locke wrote, “The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but only have the law Lord of the Flies 3 of nature for his rule.” Apparently the boys in “Lord of the Flies” didn’t feel that way. But given the right situation people can only cover up savagery for so long before it breaks out. (http://mypage.direct.ca/e/ebyrne/LOF.html) John Locke’s theory of the “state of nature” is really a nice way to think about the government and society, but it wouldn’t work in modern day society. Without government there would be chaos and destruction just like it was shown in “Lord of the Flies”.