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“Lord of the Flies,” by William Golding is ostensibly a story about a group of middle class English boys who crash land on an uninhabited island during the world war. There are no adult’s with the boys as the only adult, the pilot gets killed . Than the boys assemble on the beach. The boys start well by having regulations and assemblies to discuss things that affect them. They elect a boy called Ralph as the leader, who decides he and some others will be in charge of building huts.
Jack, the leader of the choirboys becomes in charge of keeping the fire alight, so they can be saved and hutting. As the novel progress things start to deteriorate. First the fire gets out of control killing at least one boy and destroying some of the island. Than the younger ones believe there is a beast on the island. After all this happens the boys split up into two groups and become enemies.
Before getting saved by a naval officer two more boys get killed.
Golding, being a Catholic, wrote “Lord of the Flies,” as an allegory explaining man’s fall from grace and man’s essential evil.
The link between the Garden of Eden and the island is that it is paradise. The island represents this because Adam and Eve were alone in the garden, just like the boys are alone on the island. This is when Eve gave into temptation by eating the apple which the snake or devil tempted her to.
The little ones believe there is a beast on the island, which symbolises the devil just like the snake in the Garden of Eden. Later in the book you learn that the real beast is inside them. In Golding’s terms they are afraid of the evil inside themselves. The Island also mirrors human nature by having a good and bad side. The good side of the island has fantastic birds, dark blue seas, golden beaches and fruit trees. At the beginning of the novel this is where all the boys decide to stay and builds huts.
The bad side, like the dark side of human nature is where the castle is and all the rocks and mountains. Nothing grows on this side of the island. Later in the novel Jack takes his group of savages here. When the island sets on fire both at the beginning and end of the novel, this represents hell. We get this image because the fire is bad as it kills people and is dangerous. The point of them making a fire was because they desired to be rescued, to return to civilisation. But the symbol is ambiguous because the civilisation they want to return to is in ruins because they have destroyed it. The boys often go up the mountain looking for answers; at the beginning they climbed it to see what their situation was. Later Simon climbs it to discover the truth about the beast: mans spiritual condition.
A book called “Coral Island” is linked with this book because the author, Ballantine, wrote something similar. He wrote about a group of English boys getting stranded on an island, but they converted the savages into Christians. We know this because at the end of the novel the naval officer refers to it by saying:
“Like the Coral Island.”
Jack mirrors the typical English schoolboy when he says: ” We’ll have rules, lots of rules, after all we’re English.” By saying this Jack is being civilised because he is use to having rules for example when he first goes hunting he couldn’t kill the pig because he knew it was wrong. Then later on he yells: “Bollocks to the rules.” This is when he is losing civilisation and starts killing. This too links in with “Coral Island,” because it mirrors it. The real savages are the boys themselves.
Ralph, the leader of the group tries to be democratic, taking everyone’s opinions into account. Ralph uses reason for example when Jack let the fire burn out and hit Piggy and broke his glasses. Ralph stated, “That was a dirty trick,” and stood up to Jack, who replied, “I apologize.” By doing that Ralph managed to hold on to civilisation for a bit longer. He and Piggy are quiet good friends and he takes advice from him, for instance when Ralph wants to give up being chief. Piggy warns him what would happen if Jack became chief. Ralph isn’t perfect; he betrays piggy by telling his nickname in which he told him in confidence. Ralph also re-enacts the scene where Robert pretends to be the pig, by killing it. He gets carried away by “the desire to hurt,” afterwards he feels uneasy by the recollection. This too shows us that Ralph shares in the evil that motivates Jack and his hunters. Ralph wants to be saved, both from the island and religiously.
We know this because Jack lets the fire out and Ralph becomes angry. Ralph asks for a sigh from the “adult world” and he gets a dead parachutist who has been in the war. This symbolically represents what is going on the island is also occurring on outside. Later on the boys see the fallen, dead parachutist and believe that it is the beast. In a moral way the dead man is the beast because he too is evil, just like the boys become. Ralph knows things are going bad to worse on the island but doesn’t quiet know why, but at the end he finds out why. In the novel Ralph and Piggy look back to the civilisation they have left behind. They think of it as a world of order and common sense. They feel that “grown-ups know things. The terrible irony is that the same evil that threatens the boys is also destroying that supposedly civilised outside world.
Piggy is one of the first boys introduced to us. He is different to all the others in both mind and appearance. He is fat, wears glasses and has asthma. His glasses symbolizes that he can’t see what’s going on. Piggy is an adult type figure as he tries to take order by taking everyone’s names. He is also the one that worries a lot. He worries that there are no adults on the island, while Ralph loves the idea. We also know he is an adult type boy because he says “like a crowd of kids,” but what Piggy doesn’t know is that all people are like that when following a charismatic leader, who offers rewards. It was also Piggy’s idea to blow the conch. Through out the novel the conch is very important to him as he keeps it close by.
This shows us that civilisation is important to him. He thinks logically. His logic and good sense prove as unattractive to his peers as his appearance. Piggy is an outsider. Jack doesn’t like piggy and in the novel he hunts pigs. Later on in the novel Roger sends a huge boulder of rock down, killing Piggy. This links in when roger throw stones eairler in the novel at Hennery. He throws them in a circle wanting to hurt him but couldn’t because he was still civilised. At this point he desired to hurt Henry, but is constrained by his social conditioning. But by killing Piggy the civilised behaviour had gone.
Jack is fist described to us as “black, bat like,” and as a “dark creature.” This is when him and his choir are coming up the island. Jack dominates the choir and other people. This represents the badness in him. On his uniform he has a cross, this is an ambiguous symbol reminding us of Christ’s death, when he died for the sins of man. It is also a sigh of redemption. Jack has power over people. Jack isn’t a very nice person because when Simon faints all he says is:
“He’s always throwing a faint.”
Jack takes a straight dislike to Piggy we know this because he says to him:
“You’re talking to much. Shut up fatty!”
When Piggy is trying to take names. Jack doesn’t like Piggy because he is instinctively afraid of him the reason being he hates people who are rational, moral stance that Piggy represents and he has influence over Ralph. Later on in the novel Jack becomes to hate Ralph, not just because he is chief but because Ralph rejected the evil inside him that Jack accepted. When Jack, Ralph and Simon go of exploring Jack shows the destructiveness of his nature when he sends the rock crashing down the mountainside for no reason.
When Jack fist try’s to kill the pig he can’t do it because he still has civilisation left in him. Later on in the novel this changes when he comes obsessed with hunting. When hunting Jack paints a face over his. Golding believes this to be his real face, the savage. Masks conceal the identity of the wearer, so they can’t be recognised and are free to do as you please. He believes when we are took out of civilisation we become our real self’s. When Jack and his group hunt they sing:
“Kill the pig bash him in,”
this is like a chant. This has significance because it shows how the boys are developing into savages. Jack brings death and destruction on the island. He does this destroying the actual island and killing both pigs and humans. Jacks language becomes crude and vulgar as he regresses further from civilised standards of behaviour. When Jack finally becomes his real self, the savage he takes most of the boys down by the castle rock. The reasons the boys go with him are because he promises to kill the snake, if there is one, hunt for meat by doing this he is offering them both food and protection.
Simon is a name from the bible. Simon is the boy who faints and has epileptic fits a lot. Simon is a Christ like figure. He helps everyone, he gives piggy meat and helps with building the shelters. Simon says to Ralph “You will get off the island,” this is as if he knows who is going to die and who will be saved, both from the island and religiously. We first see Simon as a member of the choir. Simon is not a coward as later we learn, when he goes to confront the “beastie.” He does this because he knows the real beast is inside them.
When Simon falls unconscious he has an illusion that the pig, which has been sacrificed to the “beastie,” by jack and his group and is covered with flies, warns him. It says that all the boys will kill him including Ralph if he goes to warn them about the real beast. Simon ignoring this goes of to tell them but finds himself in the middle of a circle in which he is savagely killed. Ralph can’t come to terms with this as he says to Piggy
“It was murder”
Piggy says, “It was dark, we thought it was the beast”
Al l the boys who stayed with Ralph are rigid with guilt. Jack however feels no guilt because he no longer has any sense of moral responsibility. The circle and the flies around the pig represent the devil. Simon’s dead body goes out to sea:
“The water rose further and dressed Simons coarse hair with brightness. The strange, attendant creatures, with their fiery eyes are trailing vapours, busied themselves round his head.”
The creatures are making a halo around his head, like an angel. Golding believes that we kill everyone who tries to help us, just like Simon.
The conch in the novel represents civilisation, democracy and freedom to speak. Jack challenges the authority of the conch and the right to free speech:
” We don’t need the conch any more. We know who ought to say things”
When it finally gets smashed everything that it stands for has vanished. Shortly afterwards, everyone hunts for Ralph so they can kill him. Roger, the dark hearted, evil boy sharpens his spear both ends. This means he was going to try and put Ralph’s head on it.
When Jack let the fire go out that symbolized that he didn’t want to be saved both religiously and from the island.
In the novel there are constant references made about circles because they are symbolically to do with the devil. The boys are always getting into circles.
“Percival Wemys Madison, the Vicarage, Harcourt st. Anthony, Hants, ” This was said by a young boy on the island. It shows at the beginning he knows who he is. At the end, he goes up to the navel officer and tries to say his name again, but cant. That showed the break down of civilisation and that he had lost his own identity. Even the younger ones on the island show signs of evil. Johnny, seeing Percival crying makes him cry even more. Henry, happily traps creatures in little pools, “became absorbed beyond mere happiness as he felt himself having control over living things.”
Roger, the torturer is drawn to the beast as it is so much like his own nature we know this because he goes with Ralph and Jack up the mountain, while all the other boys go back down to the beach. As the book progresses the language subtly changes for example at the beginning the boys are referred to, as boys but this changes and they become the “hunters,” and than the “savages.” Another example of this is Jack becomes chief.
At the end of the novel:
“Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of
Of mans heart, and the fall through air of the true, wise
Friend called Piggy.” This is when Ralph realises that man is essentially evil and that even the adults are too. He realises this because he has a naval officer stood in front of him dressed in his uniform, with a gun and a boat, which are used for killing people. He has Jack stood behind him with a painted face and a spear in his hand in which he used as a weapon to kill living things with.
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