Real Life Essay, Research Paper
Lord Of The Flies: A Shocking Tale Of The Darkness Of Man’s Heart
At first, William Golding’s novel, The Lord Of The Flies, seems little more than a tale of a group of boys, the sole survivors of a plane crash, and their adventures on a deserted island. However, as the story unfolds, it becomes more than a mere tale of survival. The island is no longer simply a place for an adventure but a metaphor for the entire world, with each of the characters representing important aspects that make up this world. The first hint Golding gives us that his novel will contain deeper meaning is the fact that the plane the boys are traveling in is shot down during the Cold War. This turns the war into something totally real to the boys. It is no longer something that is going on far away from where they live but something that they are a part of, that will change their lives forever.
One way Golding creates representations of the adult “real world” is through his characters; Piggy, Ralph, Simon, and Jack. Piggy is the representative of technology, intellect, and education. He is also the most mature and adult like member of the group. This, along with his poor eyesight, size, accent, and asthma, are why he is constantly ostracized by the others. His glasses represent technology, civilization, reality and reason. When they are destroyed it is a sign that the boys are no longer using reason in their actions and civilization is becoming more and more a thing of the past.
Ralph, on the other hand, represents government, authority, order, and self discipline. Although Ralph occasionally gives way to his more primitive side he is one of the only members of the group who maintains enough discipline to try to remain “civilized”. Lack of this quality in the other boys is a contributor to why civilized life on the island turns to chaos. When the group first arrives on the island they create an organized society, with a leader, laws, and jobs for everyone. These ideas of an ordered society are obviously a result of the society they were used to at home, based around democratic values and equality. It takes great self discipline from the boys to abide by their own rules, and work for the benefit of the group as a whole instead of themselves. As time goes on their proper society gradually digresses into a more and more primitive state until, finally, the island is no longer a society at all, but instead, a world where the only rule is survival of the fittest, and life is a free-for-all.
Simon’s character is, at first, the most difficult to understand. He is obviously different from the others and at first glance, seemingly irrelevant. However, if you look closer, his character acts as a contrast to the title of the novel, Lord Of The Flies. This translates to the Greek word, “Beelzebub” also meaning the devil, or Satan. Simon can be compared to a character in another famous story; the bible. Just like Jesus Christ, Simon cares for the small and vulnerable. He loves nature and life. He is the only member of the group who is never scared. He even volunteers to venture through the forest on his own. This is because, like Jesus, he is sure that fate is inevitable and what is bound to happen, will. In each story both were able to conquer what others feared; Simon, The Lord Of The Flies and Jesus, death. Jesus did this for all of mankind and Simon for every boy on the island. We can conclude that Simon’s hallucinated encounter with the Sow’s head is a result of his epilepsy. However, the vision he sees actually makes sense. The Beast says to him, “Fancy thinking the beast was something you could hunt down and kill… I’m a part of you… Why things are the way they are.” The point Golding is trying to make is that the capacity for evil lies within all people, and without morals, government and laws it is bound to eventually surface, bringing out the worst in all, and turning ordered society to total chaos. Simon realizes this and rushes to tell the others. The shocking and sad ending to both Simon and Jesus’ tales is that when each of these characters attempt to share what they have discovered with the others, they are killed in anger and the false belief that they are evil. Another way that the idea of a higher being is used in the novel occurs in chapter five when Ralph cries, out of desperation, for a message from the adult world. This represents adults’ need to turn to god or a higher being in times of despair, when they are unsure of what to do. When the parachutist’s corpse lands on the island after Ralph’s plea, it is a symbol that the adult world is doing just as badly as they are; and no one can help them but themselves.
Jack Merridew acts as the image of violence, aggression, anarchy, paganism, the destruction of technology and purity, the attempt to abolish government, and the fine line between humanism and savagery. In the beginning he agrees with Ralph that rules should be set and followed. However, he is the first to break them, nearly ruining their chances of rescue from the island. This occurs when he neglects his duties of keeping a fire going and instead, goes hunting, ignorant of the fact that a ship is passing the island. After this, Jack continues to prefer to hunt and have a good time rather than work towards building a proper society and getting rescued. Also, in the beginning, he cannot bring himself to end the life of a pig. However, as he becomes less and less attached to societal norms, he soon feels no shame in killing pigs, and by the end no shame in the deaths of Simon and Piggy nor the attempt to kill Ralph.
Golding often uses setting to add contrast to his characters and their actions. He does this by demonstrating nature’s indifference to mankind. In many novels nature is portrayed as mankind’s home and protector. In Golding’s story, however, this is not the case. Nature on the island is completely indifferent to the boys’ existence. An example of this is when Jack and his tribe are hunting a large sow. After they stab her with their spears and she is staggering around, bleeding, and dying, Golding states, “…She staggered into an open space where bright flowers grew and butterflies danced ’round each other and the air was hot and still…” Despite the fact that a truly heartless act is taking place, the beauties of nature continue to be; completely unaware of mankind and his evil ways.
Golding uses the theme of his novel as an attempt to trace the defects of society back to that of human nature, contrary to the common belief that man is innocent and society evil. Symbolism can be found in nearly every aspect of this novel, particularly through the development of characters and setting. The island and it’s inhabitants are used as representatives of our world and society. William Golding is reminding and warning us of the certain capacity for evil that lies in all of man, and that man’s morality is merely superficial. Nevertheless, it is this moral integrity, along with government, rules, and order that must prevail in order for us to be ethical and thus for society to be maintained.