Contrasting The Characters Ralph And Jack-Lord Of The Flies Essay, Research Paper
Contrasting the Characters Ralph and Jack
Ralph and Jack are both powerful and meaningful characters in William Golding’s classic novel, Lord of the Flies. Ralph is an excellent leader; responsible, and stands for all that is good. Jack is a destructive hunter, selfish, and represents evil. These two main characters can be compared by the actions they take as leaders, their personalities, and what they symbolise in the story.
Ralph first takes on the position as leader at the beginning of the story, when the rest of the boys vote him in as chief. He carries this position until Jack and his fellow hunters break away from the group. Ralph makes it his job to set out the rules to organise a society. Ralph always thinks of what is best for everyone and how they will all benefit from his decisions. Jack, on the other hand, takes on the idea of every man for himself. Rules and standards are set when Ralph is the chief. He orders the group to build the basic necessities of civilisation, shelters, and most importantly to keep the fire going, in hope that they will be rescued and return to humanity. ” But I tell you that smoke is more important than the pig, however often you kill one (Golding pg .75)” Jack on the other hand, does not care about making homes, only about hunting. When Jack is the leader, evil takes over and all good is destroyed. Under Jack’s power both Simon and Piggy are killed.
Just the two characters decisions clash, so do their personalities. Jack is unkind, caring about no one but himself and how he can benefit. Jack simply wants to hunt and have a good time. He makes fun of Piggy, humiliating him, making him feel small and unworthy. “…You would, would you? Fatty….and Jack smacked Piggy’s head. (Golding pg. 78)” Unlike Jack, Ralph is caring and considerate, being kinder to Piggy, making friends with him and constantly confiding in him. Jack is a lost boy who begins to discover the evil within him. When he proposes to the group that he should be the new chief, they do not respond in his favour, and Jack runs away, hurt and rejected. He swallows his hurt ego and throws all of his energy into the only thing he seems to know how to do – hunting. He puts on face paint and hides his conscience. This changes him into a savage; an evil, violent monster. The colourful mask allows Jack to forget everything he was taught back in England. “…the mask was a thing on its own, behind which Jack hid, liberated from shame and self-consciousness (Golding pg. 69).” As the plot progresses he becomes less and less attached to any societal norms. Near the end of the novel, he feels no shame about the deaths of Simon and Piggy, nor his attempt to kill Ralph. By contrast, Ralph continues to be level headed and rational. Ralph has progressed throughout the story, growing and maturing. He is logical and practical, planning for the future and thinking about things before he goes and does them. When one of the little boys first brings up the idea of there being a beast, Ralph immediately voices his opinion of there not being any sort of beast at all.
Another difference found is that Ralph symbolises innocence, whereas Jack symbolises experience and the inner shadow that Golding believes everyone has. “Jack represents the id of one’s personality-he supports the notion that one’s desires are most important and should be followed, regardless of reason or morals.”* Ralph represents Piggy and Simon, the good side of the boys. Simon is pure, and the only one who realises what the beast really is. Piggy is the voice of reason and stands for the world the boys once knew- adults, discipline, rules and civilisation. Jack’s accomplice is Roger, a boy who soon forgets the standards and morals he once knew and becomes inhumane, throwing rocks at people and even killing Piggy without any remorse. (After Piggy’s death) “See? See? That’s what you’ll get! I meant that! There isn’t a tribe for you anymore! The conch is gone- (Golding pg. 200).” Jack (and his tribe) represent anarchy.
Jack did not have the integrity to keep the Beast at bay. It slowly crept into him and later took full control once he put on the painted mask. He is the perpetrator of the two deaths that occur on the island and wishes to spend his time hunting (killing) instead of helping Ralph with being rescued. Whereas Ralph represents law, order, organised society and moral integrity. Throughout the novel he is constantly making common-sense rules for the boys to follow.
As chief, he knows right from wrong. When everyone followed Jack except for Piggy, Samneric and himself, he did not just give up and follow what he knew was wrong, he tried to reason with the rest of the boys and tried to talk some sense into them. At the end of the novel though, he too realises that man is not a kind creature by nature. “…Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart…(Golding pg. 223).”
Though the boys are quite unlike and symbolise opposite things, they are both distinct individuals who are of great importance to the novel. The two characters demonstrate the different types of men; ones who can keep the beast away and keep their head together and others who can not do so and become evil. Ralph has common sense and responsibility, a couple qualities which some people may have and Jack illustrates the beast that Golding believes every man carries. Jack starts out sensible but can not keep his sanity like Ralph does. William Golding succeeded in creating two magnificent characters who symbolise and show the difference between good and evil. This is shown in everything the two characters do and say.