Weapons of mass destruction (biological, nuclear, etc.) are primarily designed to kill large quantities of humans as well as destroy natural and man-made structures and the biosphere in general. In an age in which technology ranks superior, much emphasis is placed on the actual weapons as opposed to the individuals/minds that created such lethal armaments. Such individuals/minds epitomize human savagery at the highest level. The array of violence permeating the earth today is committed not just by those in high places but amongst average/ everyday people as well. Human savagery is equally as much a weapon of mass destruction as anthrax, a nuclear weapon, etc. Since the dawn of time, human nature has without a doubt exuded a persistent vein of unwarranted violence and cruelty.
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Synopsis of Work and Interconnection
Literature, as do all aspects of society, examines this unsavory element in human nature. The acclaimed novel, Lord of the Flies as well as short stories The Lottery and Greasy Lake are interconnected in that illustrate various levels of human savagery in close-knit/small communities. First published in the June 26, 1948 issue of The New Yorker, The Lottery is a short story by influential American author, Shirley Jackson. By using situational irony – discrepancy between the expected result and actual result – The Lottery is unsettling not only because of the use of barbaric/primitive human sacrifice for the purpose of communal preservation but most importantly because of the acceptance/normalcy in which it is carried out. The townspeople have no sense of how barbaric the lottery process is due to the formal/elaborate ceremonial nature of it. It has become a traditional aspect of the town’s culture – a horrific institution.
Where there is no order, disorder reigns as evidenced by Lord of the Flies (1954). Written by Nobel Prize-winning British author, Sir William Golding, the novel depicts how a group of British schoolboys, survivors of plane crash, care of themselves on a deserted island. Children who in essence are unable to govern themselves, the novel depicts their eventual descent into chaos and savagery. Human nature and individual welfare versus the common good is the thematic core of Lord of the Flies. The sinister nature of the novel is inferred in the title which derives from the Hebrew word, Ba’al-Aviv which means god of the fly, host of the fly or literally the Lord of Flies – a term often synonymous with Satan. An expose on fundamental pessimism about humanity, both pieces were written during the euphoric baby boom wave. The author of twelve novels and more than 60 short stories, American novelist/short story writer, T. Coraghessan Boyle was born the same year The Lottery was published. A mixture of social exploration and humor, Boyle’s works explore the unpredictability and ruthlessness of human nature as well as the appetites, addictions, and joys of the Baby Boom generation. Greasy Lake, published in 1985 as a part of an anthology, explore the superficiality of the Post Vietnam War era in the U.S as well as examines how individual desires may not be the best thing because of the consequences associated with it. The main protagonists desire the Bad Boy persona – they feel it’s simple good to be bad. In the end they realize that such a desire is not such a good thing after all.
Greasy Lake depicts the fundamental core of human savagery – the initial negative/bad thought which sparks such behavior. Lord of Flies and The Lottery symbolize the detrimental escalation of such a thought. Through their use of allegories/symbolism these literary works traverse across time and interconnect via their expose on the ambiguity as well as fragility of civilization and its unsuccessful struggle against barbarism and pointless violence. Unlike the typical vampires, werewolves, and aliens compounded with the element of the supernatural eminent in most horror fiction, the monsters in these unique horror stories are everyday people.
Kennedy, X.J. and Dana Gioai. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Pearson Education (US): 2006.