Nicolo Machiavelli, John Locke, and Thomas Hobbes are philosophers that have changed and influenced the lives of many people. Their specific interpretations of each of their beliefs on the best methods to run a successful government, and their evaluations of a human beings’ natural state are key to developing a more desirable government. In the film, Lord of the Flies, directed by Harry Hook, many key ideas of all three philosophers are present. John Locke’s beliefs are portrayed throughout the film, Lord of the Flies.
Locke specifically states that “all men are naturally in…a state of perfect freedom to order their actions and dispose of their possessions and persons as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature”, thus suggesting that all men are neither good nor evil and that one learns one or the other as one grows (Locke 445). He goes on to say that this “state of nature” must always have “a law of nature to govern it” (Locke 446). The state of nature of human beings is a recurring theme and example in the film.
When the abandoned boys first appear in the film, natural law and the state of nature are already present as the boys begin to come together and choose a leader. At the beginning of the film, the boys start off with a clean slate and as the film progresses they slowly learn and become either good or evil. Thomas Hobbes believed that “during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that conditions called war…as if of every man, against every man…” (Hobbes).
In Lord of the Flies, the belief that men are inherently evil is portrayed quite clearly as the boys begin to perform evil and savage-like acts. The boys believe that there is a monster that inhabits the island that they must hunt down before it gets them. This central belief is the root of their evil, as they begin to act like savages, only caring about hunting down the beast, and not thinking or caring about anything else.
As their savagery progresses, the boys eventually end up killing Simon, but think only twice about it, passing it by and forgetting it quite easily. Director, Harry Hook, portrays that without a strong government telling them what to do, the boys have almost completely forgotten who they are and believe that they can do anything they want, including even killing those who annoy them. Nicolo Machiavelli conceived that leaders who are “feared” rather than “loved” are the most effective of them all (Machiavelli 1).
The character, Jack, establishes himself as someone to be feared and followed early on in the film. Jack punishes those who fail to act according to his rules and procedures thus exuding a position of power and authority over the other boys. Jack can be portrayed as Machiavelli’s ideal leader who “so long as he keeps his subjects united and loyal” does not mind “the reproach of cruelty; because with a few examples he will be more merciful than those who, through too much mercy, allow disorders to arise” (Machiavelli 1).
John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, and Nicolo Machiavelli all had specific perceptions on the ideal and perfect government system or leader. These three philosophical interpretations of government and human nature present themselves neatly in the film, Lord of the Flies. Though in the film the boys do become savages and result to even killing each other, at the end of the film they are discovered by other humans and stop in their tracks, realizing their mistakes and inhumanity, thus giving the viewer hope that there may be hope for the human race.