The beast goes through many different definitions in ‘Lord of the Flies’, from being innocent creepers to Beelzebub itself. The beat represents fear and evil and how it affects people.
The beat is first introduced as a ‘snake-thing’ by one of the littluns who calls it a ‘beastie’. This is the first hint of there being any fear or danger on the island. The innocent ‘beastie’ shows their innocence and child-like behaviour. Ralph repeatedly states that there ‘isn’t a beastie’; he is defiant. Perhaps Ralph is scared, too, and is trying to reassure himself.
Simon is the first to suggest that the beast ‘was real’, but his ideas were ignored by Ralph and Jack. This foreshadows when Simon tries to explain what the beast is but is killed before he has the chance.
Piggy then thinks rationally. He states that there isn’t a beast ‘with claws and all that’, but there is people. He implies that the beast is people in general and, due to being called Piggy and being bullied’ he has insight into the potentially evil in people.
Percival is another little ‘un to express his interpretation of the beast. However, he gets laughed at and ‘surrounded by the uncomfortable presence of humans’, he falls asleep before explaining himself. This, again, foreshadows that the ‘beat’ is within people and he’s uncomfortable being around humans because of their evil capacity.
Simon then states: ‘Maybe there is a beast… Maybe it’s only us’. He is ridiculed and can’t articulate his thoughts clearly. However, Golding refers to it as ‘man-kind’s essential illness’, suggesting that evil primitive instincts could potentially ruin the human race.
Sam and Eric then refer to the parachutist as the beast. In some ways, this is true as he would have died as a result of war which is evil. The parachutist is a symbol of what other humans can do to each other, reinforcing the idea that the beast is within us.
Simon then states: ‘I don’t believe in the beast’. He is a naturally good character with good morals, such as when he helped the little ‘uns get fruit’. His morals aren’t imposed on him by society like the others, they’re within him. Perhaps he doesn’t believe in the beast because he has a high faith in humanity and can’t understand why or how someone would be evil.
During an epileptic fit, Simon sees the pig’s head on the stick. It is evil personified. Golding refers to it as having the ‘infinite cynicism of adult life’ suggesting that evil can’t be suppressed and will eventually show itself in all of us. The Lord of the Flies tells him repeatedly to ‘go back to the others’ before saying ‘you’ll only meet me down there – so don’t try to escape’. This could be a reference to Jack and the hunters being evil and Simon facing them, or a reference to being killed with ‘down there’ being Hell which foreshadows Simon’s death.
When Simon goes back to tell the others, he is killed. The boys have now reached their full capacity for evil. Ironically, Simon could have saved them from themselves but he was silenced by death.
In conclusion, I think that the beast in human’s capacity for evil. Its importance is showing how fear can control people and how evil can be suppressed, but not gotten rid of, by law and order.