A comparative study of jack in ‘Lord of the Flies’ and Heathcliff in ‘Wuthering Heights’ and the conflict they represent between ‘civilised’ and ‘savage’ behaviour.
In this essay I will be focusing on the two different novels, ‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding and ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Brï¿½nte. I will concentrate on Jack in ‘Lord of the Flies’ and his constant conflict over leadership on the island, and Heathcliff in ‘Wuthering Heights’ and his conflict with Edgar Linton regarding Catherine Earnshaw.
I will show how the two authors use different procedures to express the emotional and behavioural differences between savage and civilised behaviour.
The two novels are very different in the way in which narration, viewpoint, language and the detail of the description is used. Much of ‘Wuthering Heights’ is a long flash back told by Nellie Dean, the former housekeeper to Mr Lockwood a tenant at Thrushcross grange. The text is extremely descriptive but also consists of Nellie Dean’s opinions and memories along with a few extracts form Catherine Earnshaw’s diary.
The novel contains more traditional language ‘They both promised… to grow up rude as savages, the young master being entirely negligent how they behaved and what they did so they kept clear of him.
‘ Throughout the novel there is little speech used. When speech is used it consists of a variety of dialects, Standard English is used in conversations/comments by most of the characters. With Joseph being the acception and speaking Scottish, ‘Maister, coom Hither! Miss Cathy’s riven Th’ back off Th’ Helmeth uh Salvation un’ Heathcliff’s pawsed his fit intuh t’ first part uh T’ Broadway to destruction!’ This adds a bit of variety to the novel as it shows how different people from different parts of the country react to events.
‘Lord of the Flies’ uses more modern English ‘Piggy said nothing but nodded, solemnly. They continued to sit, gazing with impaired sight at the chief’s seat and the glittering lagoon.’ The story is narrated using an omniscient narrator, meaning we can see into the characters minds and so giving us a more detailed read. The characters are described more in depth and the surroundings i.e. the island. More adjectives are used in the description and this gives the reader more of a feeling of being there. The island is almost seen as a character rather than just a setting because of the amount of description used; ‘the sandy edge of the pool loomed up like a hillside. The water was warmer than his blood.’
Heathcliff is one of the main characters in ‘Wuthering Heights.’ On his arrival all apart from Mr Earnshaw, who had brought him back home with him, instantly disliked him. Cathy and Hindley refused for him to sleep in their room and when they learned that their presents, which their father had brought back for them, were broken and lost Cathy responded by ‘Grinning and spitting at the stupid little thing.’ Mrs Earnshaw wasn’t impressed either and scolded her husband and enquired ‘How he could fashion to bring that gipsy brat into the house and if he were mad?’
When he was first shown to the household he was described as ‘dirty, ragged and had black hair, he was big enough to both walk and talk.’ When he spoke for the first time he ‘repeated over and over some gibberish that nobody could understand.’ All this suggests that maybe he was from a foreign land. Nobody knows his origin as he was picked from the streets but his description suggests he is foreign; ‘you’re a prince in disguise. Who knows but your father was emperor of China and your mother an Indian Queen.’ This is a comment made by Nellie Dean later in the story.
However a few days after his arrival Heathcliff and Cathy become ‘very thick’ and eventually Nellie Dean warmed to him. Hatred between Hindley and Heathcliff remained, this was mainly due to Hindley’s jealousness of the way in which his father treated Heathcliff i.e. much better than how Hindley was treated.
Jack is one of the main characters in ‘Lord of the Flies.’ His background is unknown but is most probably similar to the other boys from the island, meaning he lived with his parents, he may have been sent away to school. First impressions of Jack were that ‘He was tall, thin and bony: and his hair was red beneath the black gap. His face was crumpled and freckled, and ugly without silliness. Out of his face stared two light blue eyes’ he was bossy and in charge of the choir ‘He shouted at them “choir! Stand still.”‘ He makes himself appear confident; ‘Merridew turned to Ralph, “Aren’t there any grown-ups?”
Merridew sat down on a trunk and looked round the circle. “Then we’ll have to look after ourselves.”” Jack also proved himself to be arrogant by responding ‘I ought to be chief’ when a decision was made that a chief was required to decide things. Instantly he and Ralph didn’t get on, this was mainly jealousy on Jack’s behalf as Ralph was chosen as chief.
Those surrounding them almost immediately dislike both Heathcliff and Jack. They also both gain an enemy, which they have, constant conflicts with throughout the novel. This being Jack and Ralph; Heathcliff and Hindley, and they both have unknown backgrounds; however Jack’s is slightly more certain. So in many respects the boys are similar. However there are differences between the two, the main one being appearance and initially Heathcliff appears not to be bossy, later in the novel though he becomes sly and blackmails to get what he wants.
Heathcliff’s appearance deteriorates as his behaviour becomes more rebellious and wild. His looks become less civilised and turn more ‘savage’ and unkempt ‘You wash your dirty face and brush your hair.’ This is reflected in his behaviour which has become much more raw ‘took my dingy volume by the scroop, and hurled it into the dog kennel vowing I hated a good book, Heathcliff kicked his to the same place.’ This shows how the savage behaviour of Catherine and Heathcliff has changed the surroundings by pulling other civilised things; such as the bible to be more like them.
Heathcliff’s attitude towards Hindley becomes increasingly more rebellious. He encourages Hindley to throw things and be nasty to him so that he can use previously received beatings against him and get Hindley into trouble with Mr Earnshaw; ‘” Off, dog!” cried Hindley, threatening him with an iron weight used for weighing potatoes and hay.
“Throw it” he replied, standing still, “and then I shall tell how you boasted that you would turn me out of doors as soon as he died and see whether he will not turn you out directly.” This shows Heathcliff’s sly side and hatred, so much hatred he feels that he needs Hindley to be gone completely from his life, this emphasises his savage uncivilised behaviour.
As Jack’s behaviour becomes more savage his appearance changes his hair becomes longer ‘His sandy hair, considerably longer than it had been when they dropped in, was lighter now,’ and he uses war paints; ‘Jack planned his new face. He made one cheek and one eye socket white, then he rubbed red over the other half of his face and slashed a black bar of charcoal across from right ear to left jaw.’ He uses these war paints to become ‘masked’ in evil and malice, he creates a new world and cuts out responsibilities. Like this he is able to cut himself off from the civilised world and transform to show his true personality, unruly and ‘savage’.
The conch in the book is something that is respected by all and represents law and order. To Jack the conch is like an adult and has the power that he wants, he wants to be in charge and be respected by all. Due to this there is great disruptions on the island.
Both Jack and Heathcliff’s appearance deteriorates as their behaviour becomes more savage, again showing a similarity between the two.
Heathcliff’s nature becomes increasingly more violent. The violence he uses is not physical, its verbal i.e. he makes threats and suggestive comments ‘it is some devil that urges me to thwart my own schemes by killing him.’ This suggests that Hindley is testing Heathcliff’s violent physical behaviour boundary and he may in fact of pushed him so far that it gets broken. This is not the only time in which we see a different side to Heathcliff, it is in fact one of many but the above may be the most severe.
During Heathcliff and Hindley’s argument about the colts another side of Heathcliff is seen. He blackmails Hindley by threatening to tell Mr Earnshaw of the beatings he has received from him; ‘I shall tell your father of the three thrashings you’ve given me this week.’ This is a very devious manipulative move because he knows that Mr Earnshaw prefers him to Hindley and so therefore is likely to defend his ‘gift of god’ Heathcliff.
Jack’s nature is violent, and the amount of violence increases as you proceed through the book. He shows how he is angry and short tempered especially at the start and specifically towards piggy; he uses harsh words towards him ‘shut up, fatty’, which are unnecessary. He continues to behave violently towards piggy ‘”Here – let me go!” His voice rose to a shriek of terror as Jack snatched the glasses off his face.’ Jack quite simply didn’t ask piggy for the use of his glasses and instead showed rudeness, ill mannered and violent behaviour by snatching them.
It is also shown how Jack’s physical violence is initially kept pent up inside him but eventually releases itself onto piggy ‘This from piggy and wails of agreement from some of the hunters drove Jack to violence. The bolting look came into his blue eyes. He took a step and able at last to hit someone stuck his fist into piggy’s stomach.’ This again shows his dislike for piggy and shows how uncivilised and savage he in fact is.
Both Jack and Heathcliff act violently but they release their aggression differently, Heathcliff tends to be clever with the way in which he acts and bribes, although he suggests that he could indeed handle releasing his aggression physically he doesn’t he sticks to what he knows best and shows a more mature attitude towards it. Jack on the other hand shows a more immature way of handling it; he uses both physical and verbal violence. The way in which he uses his words to try and harm others is different, and entails no maturity at all, he uses more childish thoughtless words, he may well use physical violence because he realises that his immature way of handling words is not making much of an effect.
Heathcliff’s aggression becomes focused on Edgar Linton; this is because Heathcliff is jealous of the relationship Edgar has with Catherine. To show Heathcliff’s wildness and to develop the civilisation versus savagery theme Brï¿½nte uses a different kind of language, a more intense harsh range of vocabulary. She uses words such as ‘with frightful vehemence’ to prove that Heathcliff feels really deeply and means what he says, she shows him to be impatient, agitated and angry; ‘stamping his foot and groaning in a sudden paroxysm.’
This is another example of Heathcliff’s aggression being focused on Edgar Linton; ‘”Cathy, this lamb of yours threatens like a bull!” he said. “It is in danger of splitting its skull against my knuckles. By god, Mr Linton, I’m mortally sorry that you are not worth knocking down!’ it shows his wildness and tells how Edgar is in for a beating. It all shows his savage behaviour and focused hatred on Edgar.
Later in ‘Lord of the Flies’ Jack’s aggression becomes focussed on Ralph. This is a change as originally Jack’s violent, savage behaviour was directed at piggy. Their conflict over leadership and the type of society they should have on the island has great effects on the group as a whole and the boys take sides. Originally Jack was jealous of Ralph as he became leader and this was what Jack wanted to be, he was ‘mortified’ when Ralph was chosen as chief and this proved he was respected more and more popular than Jack. However, constant disagreements between the two meant that the group split and more sided with Jack meaning that he was now in charge.
Jack was insecure and thought all would return to Ralph, whilst he controlled all he showed the most savage behaviour and made his ‘tribe’ hunt Ralph down and kill him. ‘”Heave! Heave! Heave!” a shrill prolonged cheer. Something boomed up on the red rock, and then the earth jumped and began to shake steadily while the noise as steadily increased. Ralph was shot into the air, thrown down, and dashed against branches. At his right hand and only a few feet away, the whole thicket bent and the roots screamed as they came out of the earth together.’ This was Jack’s attempt at killing Ralph, it emphasises his savage, uncivilised behaviour. Golding’s description of the roots is also a description of what would of happened to Ralph had he been in the way.
Both boys show jealousy and the pent up aggression they receive from this they then focus on one person in particular. This is the person, which they feel most in ‘danger’ of, which threatens them the most. Again showing how similar the boys are.
Heathcliff’s nature proves to be evil. This is shown by his bribery over the colts with Hindley; ‘You must exchange horses with me; I don’t like mine and if you wont I shall tell your father of the three thrashings you’ve given me this week, and show him my arm which is black to the shoulder.’ This shows just how far he would go to get his own way. He is constantly evil and constantly thinks like this, and when he throws the hot apple sauce at Edgar Linton this just emphasises the fact; ‘He seized a tureen of hot apple sauce, the first thing that came under his grip and dashed it full against the speakers face and neck.’
Brï¿½nte suggests that Heathcliff could be from the devil by selecting words such as ‘imp of Satan’ to emphasise this. This is backed up by the fact that his background is unknown. His innate evil is being brought out because of his surroundings.
Jack leads the hunters. On one hunt jack found himself unable to kill the pig they had captured. This is why he was so excited when the group caught another pig and managed this time to kill it; ‘”Look! We’ve killed a pig – we stole upon them – we got in a circle.”
Voices broke from the hunters. “We got in a circle…”
“We crept up…”
“The pig squealed…” Jack then puts the pig’s head on a stick – the Lord of the Flies. By doing this he shows savage, evil and uncivilised behaviour. This is because in making the pigs head the Lord of the Flies he is making an idol of it; this is against one of the Ten Commandments. Christianity is seen as civilisation and so he is in fact going against it and therefore being uncivilised. He shows evil because by idolising the pig he is showing that he is proud of the fact that he has killed another living thing.
Golding is saying that children do in fact have evil instincts inside which are brought out when they are in groups; this may be because they are trying to impress others.
Both boys show evil behaviour, although Heathcliff’s you seem to be able to understand more as he has a reason and is more of a reaction to probing from others than anything else. Jack’s is a much deeper evil and he idolises the ‘darker side’ of life.
Heathcliff’s relationship with the natural world is very strong. His look is that of rugged and dirty ‘If you wash your face and brush your hair it will be all right. But you are so dirty!’ and therefore fits in with nature because that too is rugged and dirty. At the start when he firsts arrives at the family home he speaks gibberish; ‘when it was set on its feet, it only stared round, and repeated over and over again some gibberish that nobody could understand.’ This emphasises the fact that he is not civilised, the same as nature isn’t and therefore implying again that Heathcliff fits in with and is part of nature.
Catherine Earnshaw describes him as ‘a bleak, hilly, coal country.’ This emphasises how close to nature he is as this is how his closest friends describe him. The ‘bleak, hilly’ description also suggests that maybe he has little going for him and that his future is not a lot to look forward to.
Whenever Heathcliff runs away he runs to the moors suggesting that this is where he feels most comfortable and sees nature as a friend to himself. After Heathcliff has runaway after hearing how Catherine plans to marry Edgar there is a storm. During the storm a tree is split; ‘split a tree off’ this tree symbolises Heathcliff and shows him splitting with Catherine and civilisation. It again shows how he is close to nature because natural things are being used to describe him. His name ‘Heathcliff’ is a natural name and is an oxymoron. It shows a contrast; ‘heath describes a wide-open space where as ‘cliff’ describes a cut off vertical edge.
Golding connects jack to the natural world. He uses words such as ‘the forest and he were very still’ to emphasise the fact that the two are very similar. However the connection is more of a link than a relationship. Jack uses the natural world for exploring and hunting and it appears that he knows much about it and is very much in tune with it; ‘Jack seemed to know the way’ suggesting that he has hunted and explored a lot before. This may be because it is with the natural world that he feels comfortable and safe and the fact that when he is annoyed he walks off when Ralph is chosen as chief emphasises this. ‘If I blow the conch and they don’t come back; then we’ve had it.’ It shows that Jack feels capable enough to lead the hunters away from the large group and still be safe.
Both Heathcliff and Jack are very close to nature but Jack uses his more to help him where as Heathcliff uses his connection as a friend and to help him to calm down and forget his troubles.
Heathcliff inspires very strong emotions in people of love and hate. This gives positive and negative sides to his character. His feelings tend to lead to insecurity, jealousy, savage and uncivilised behaviour. Hindley and Edgar Linton epically feel hate towards Heathcliff. This is sparked off by the fact that they cant except him into their civilised world because he’s from a different background. As well as the fact that Mr Earnshaw brought back Heathcliff as another son and so Hindley saw him as an intruder, and was extremely jealous of the way in which his father treated him. Heathcliff was brought into extremely unfortunate circumstances.
However he does have positive sides; the fact that he cares for others so much that he would change for them, and the fact that when he is angry he does not always release it on others but in fact will runaway to the moors to calm down; ‘he had listened till he heard Catherine say it would degrade her to marry him, and then he stayed no farther.’ Catherine, Nelly and Mr Earnshaw all loved Heathcliff greatly and this also suggests that in fact he must have good sides to him or else’s they would not have loved him so, much.
Jack also inspires strong emotions, however they are different from those of Heathcliff. Jack inspires fear and admiration. Admiration must be one of the biggest as Ralph admires him and they normally fight, argue and show constant dislike towards each other. Golding allows jack to apologise to piggy after stealing his glasses this raises admiration form the reader as well as other characters in the book.
Jack is intimidating, this makes him feel like he has power over others which is what he wants; however this makes people dislike him, but they continue to follow him because they fear him; ‘”who wants Jack for chief?” with dreary obedience the choir raised their hands.’ ‘Dreary’ emphasises the fact that the choir dislike Jack and don’t want to vote for him but do so because they fear him.
Both boys shower others with strong emotions. Jack creates mainly negative feelings, or gains positive feedback from others after having previously doing something negative and then correcting it. Heathcliff creates equal positive and negative feelings.
In writing this essay I have noticed many similarities in Heathcliff and Jack despite the very different context of the novels. I prefer Golding’s style of writing as it gives a better description of the characters and the surroundings and more in sight into the story. However as the characters I prefer Heathcliff to Jack as the way in which he acts and responds to events are more understandable whereas Jack is full of evil.