Red, brown, green, blue, colors that surround us everyday, yet somehow the human fascination of applying them to their face makes them seem all the more fun, and interesting. This newfound interest could even leak through to the mind beneath, giving way to a whole new person. In his 1954 novel, Lord of the Flies, William Golding illustrated this idea in a way that captured the hearts of many and led the story to fame, concocting a reality that had since resided only in the nightmares of children. Inventing a world in which masks of paint were not a fun thing you got at a fair, but a living horror and uncontrollable enemy. Masks are common in our world. They are worn on holidays and to parties. Nearly everyone can recognize at least on super hero or villain who hid behind a mask. These allow people to act as something they are not, producing a faux freedom. Freedom that once the mask is applied, can allow one to do whatever they please. William Golding uses the mask for the same purpose, in creating freedom. To him the mask induces freedom from responsibility, appropriate behavior and ordinary human kindness.
Though a mask may just be a paper cut out, a molded piece of plastic, or in the Lord of the Flies, a painted face, they all have the same ability to create a feeling of freedom from responsibility. They may make they wearer feel more important or powerful and too good for work, leading to a lack of fulfillment of their responsibility. This belief in freedom from responsibility is best exemplified by Jack, the first one on the island to begin wearing a mask. He used a mask because he felt it gave him power and skill, giving him reason to take up hunting as a prime responsibility, opposed to keeping the fire going. In their...
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...er mock Piggy, when he “made a move toward Piggy…[and] mimicked the whine and scramble by saying, ‘Jus’ you wait-yah!’” By doing this, Jack causes all of the younger hunters to laugh, giving him even more power over them all because of the new power that the mask gave him, by allowing him to be cruel and unkind.
The mask is one of the most powerful symbols in Lord of the Flies. It symbolizes freedom from all of civilization’s measures, violence and hatred. However, it also represents leadership, and the new society in which the boys have made for themselves, based on violence and the nature of the human soul being free for the first time in these children’s lives. Though the mask makes many of the boys feel free, they only continue to lower themselves into a pit of regret, destroying everything they have worked for and hurting others who they could formerly trust.
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