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Lost: The Smoke Monster
Here Comes the Man in Black
The most talked about "thing" on the Island was one of the most talked about aspects of the hit television show Lost. It is an entity, a man have you, but it is also more than just a monster. The "Man in Black" was always referred to as the monster but was also one of the longest inhabitants of the island. In the sixth season, we are shown a glimpse of him before being the weird sounding black smoke. We see him at first being a boy growing up on the Island with his brother, Jacob, and their transformation into men. We see that their relationship deteriorates over time when at first he tries to steal the Light of the Island in order to leave, but is stopped by his adoptive mother as she thwarts his plans and kills everyone in his village. This sends him into a rage that leads him to murder her and Jacob get his revenge by sending his brother into the heart of the Island which turns him into the smoke monster. The two spent centuries together on the island in a constant pissing contest as they would draw people to the island to test their nature. The two could not directly hurt each other because of their adoptive mother, it isn't exactly said as to how she did this, but she did. The Man in Black promised Jacob that he would eventually find a loophole so that he could kill him.
The Man in Black eventually did find his loophole as he deceived Benjamin Linus into killing Jacob. This effectively caused everything to go to Hell, literally. The Island was without a leader to keep him from reaching the Light of the Island which would allow him to leave. Jacob explains it best in a scene with Richard Alpert in episode nine of the sixth season when he uses a wine bottle as a metaphor. He says the wine in the bottle is that of the Man in Black, evil, and malevolence while the bottle contains it and he and the Island are the cork keeping him from getting out. There always needs to be a protector of the Island to keep the Man in Black contained to the Island as if he were to get out, it would be the end of everything good.
Symbolism - Light vs Dark
The Man in Black is the clear representation of evil throughout the series, and frequently appears to the survivors of Oceanic 815 as people from their past. The show often used symbolism to show case representations of evil and good. For one, when Locke talked to Walt about the game backgammon and held up two pieces from the game. A black piece, and a white piece, which is symbolic of light and dark. Another example of this symbolic notion, was when the Man in Black took Sawyer into the cave and saw a black rock and a white rock on a pendulum. He took the white rock and nonchalantly threw it into the ocean telling Sawyer, "It's an inside joke." The Man in Black, well, just look at his name and his clothes. He often pokes and prods at the survivors to bend them to his will and tries to get them to be corrupted as he truly believes deep down everyone is bad. Their mother even explains to them that for the most part that humans are more naturally evil. Jacob would frequently bring people to the Island to prove him wrong, and to show the good that exists in people. The two are equivalent to that of God and the Devil in many aspects. Their relationship reflects it and even how they view humans.
The Man in Black could take the form of any dead person, and when Locke was killed by Ben he took it as the best person to take the form of. It was a way for him to get back at Jacob as well as Locke was a candidate to take over his duties if anything were to happen to him. Throughout the series, most frequently in the beginning the survivors would see dead people like Christian Shepard, Ana Lucia and Boone. In these visions, the survivors were told to do something that would benefit the Man in Black. Ultimately, the Man in Black is one of the most intriguing characters of the series and for the most part one of the most straight forward characters when it is all said and done.