Lord of the Flies, by William Golding Essay

Lord of the Flies, by William Golding Essay

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The Lord of the Flies, in its’ most basic form, is the struggle between two sides of humanity. We have Ralph, who is the epitome of civilization, democracy, and rationality. And yet there is a flip-side to the coin of society. Jack Merridew is everything that Ralph is not. He is savagery, he is dictatorship, and he is irrationality. Jack spotlights Ralph’s strengths, through his own errors and weaknesses. And yet he also shows Ralph’s naiveté at times. Ralph and Jack complement each other throughout the novel, and indeed they thoroughly illuminate the meaning of the work. They are civilization versus savagery. They are democracy versus dictatorship. They are rationality versus irrationality. And it is just a matter of time before one of them overwhelms the other.
Throughout the novel, Ralph tries to maintain a semblance of order and civilization, like the life they left behind when they crashed. He tries to create rules and order, because as he puts it “After all, we’re not savages.” Meanwhile, Jack completely shakes off the shadows of civilization, and gives himself over to savagery. When Jack starts getting more and more obsessed over “the hunt” and killing a pig, he starts painting his face. The first time he puts on his war paint he had a strange reaction. “He looked in astonishment, no longer at himself but at an awesome stranger. He split the water and leapt to his feet, laughing excitedly. Beside the pool his sinewy body held up a mask that drew their eyes and appalled them.” His war paint had freed him from constraints, and that was when he truly began to turn savage. Later on in the novel, when Jack creates his own group, he is described as “The chief… sitting there, naked to the waist, his face blocked out in white an...


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...entlessly pursues his fantasy of killing a pig. He even shows this when he says “Rescue?...I’d like to catch a pig first.” Ralph also decides that they should build shelters, in case of bad weather. However, Jack still doesn’t listen to any of these rational arguments, and remains fixated on the pigs. While Ralph tries to give the boys the best possible chance of survival, Jack couldn’t care less about work, he just wants to hunt.
In the end though, Jack manages to assert his control over the group, through their fear of the beast. Ralph even asks Jack, “Which is better—to have laws and agree, or to hunt and kill.” Jack convinces the boys to hunt down Ralph, and try to kill him. So in the end, savagery, irrationality, and dictatorship, do overcome the restraints of society. The boys give in to their base instincts, and essentially lose what it means to be human.

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