– Primitive Religion Essay, Research Paper
“He looked in astonishment, no longer at himself but at an awesome stranger? He began to dance and his laughter became a bloodthirsty snarling? The face of red and white and black swung through the air?”In the novel Lord of the Flies, an account of primitive religion is evident in the behavior of the hunting party. Initially, we will explore chant and uniform action and it?s spiritual effects on the human mind and soul. Secondly, it will be discussed how primitive peoples gain satisfaction from conducting the act of sacrifice. Moreover, this research will go into depth about the transformation into a higher being and development of a new identity through ritualistic actions. Finally, primitive society?s emphasis on fear-provoking, irrational behavior in comparison to modern society?s insistence on rationality will be addressed.In a primitive society, chanting is designed to provide a group with benefits such as the acquiring of material possessions, health, and monopoly over one?s personal circumstances or those of another person. This ritual is performed until one feels satisfied, and/or has been led into spiritual contact with another realm. Another purpose of the chant is for one to feel a powerful being emerge within one?s soul, resulting in a god-like sensation for a short amount of time. In the novel, one can perceive that the hunting party?s vigorous chant (”Kill the beast! Spill her blood!”) is one of their final retrogressions into savagery. Its repetitious, invigorating verse elates them, and when the procession finally ends, they behave in a trance-like, mystified demeanor. They begin speaking immediately in excited tones, feeling amazed at the feat they had accomplished. It is written that “the boys chattered and danced”, obviously enthralled with their victory. It would be wise to conclude that the boys have derived a sense of power through performing the chant, and they are satisfied with their newfound strength and uniformity. For Jack, chanting is another means of manipulating others. Like one of its benefits to primitive cultures, the chant awards him ultimate control over his entire group.The ritual of the sacrifice is a fundamental element of primitive culture. Primarily, blood sacrifice of an animal is the usual means of atonement for a primitive group. Other reasons behind this sacred ritual were to bow down to power, or to declare one?s adoration of a god or deity. The ideas behind the gift sacrifice, which existed in the early formation of religion, were thanksgiving and redemption. To honour their gods and deities, primitive peoples would sacrifice the premium animal available. Eventually, necessity dictated that the primitive groups consume the material part of the sacrifice, the gods having possessed its soul by this time. In chapter eight of Lord of the Flies, titled “Gift for the Darkness”, the hunting party conducts a ghastly sacrifice. As the reader may infer, the title of this chapter makes reference to the “beast” through the analogy of the darkness. During the course of this disturbing chapter, the boys gruesomely kill a mother pig, conserve its edible meat for a meal, append its bloody head to a stick, and skewer the
“gift” to the earth for the beast to accept. Jack Merridew explains these actions to his group, saying: “This head is for the beast. It?s a gift.” Through this sacrifice, the boys declare their respect and awe of the creature?s power, and leave it an offering in the prospect of it never tormenting them again. Jack and his savages still dread the beast, as it is told: “all at once they were running away, as fast as they could, through the forest towards the open beach”. Like a primitive society, the boys buy a god?s favor by performing a sacrifice. They choose the pig to be their sacrificial creature, which is a reasonable choice as it is the finest animal on the island. In due course the boys eat the meat of their kill, that being the primary intention of their grisly hunt.The third topic, development of a new identity through ritualistic actions, is a significant one when analyzing Jack Merridew?s preparation for the hunt. During hunting rituals in primitive societies, symbolic forms on clothing, utensils, and in some cases the human body were not merely unessential decorations. These intricate “decorations” were functional parts of the object, and contributed to the success of the hunt. Many rituals found in primitive religion had the objective of allowing an individual to participate in the life of a divine being, or actually “being” a god for a brief period of time. Jack?s ritualistic application of his makeup and costume combined the two theories mentioned above. The reader should note that when Jack?s colourful mask is being applied, he feels “liberated from shame and self-consciousness”, and stares at his reflection in the water as if it were an “awesome stranger”. With his new appearance, Jack has received a new, stronger, almost god-like identity. He has abandoned all of his doubts and insecurities, and exchanged them for a powerful, revered selfhood. The markings masking his face contributed to the hunt?s success by acting as a camouflage, and additionally frightened the pig. Other members of Jack?s team felt compelled by the mask to hunt, and took this event especially seriously out of fear. One key feature of primitive religion is its emphasis on the irrational world, in contrast to modern society?s accentuation of the rational environment. This is most likely attributed to the lack of boundary in the primitive civilization. There is no line of demarcation between the human mind or ego and occurrences in the surrounding world. Similarly, an absence of boundary is apparent between the spiritual and natural worlds, and between full consciousness and hallucination. In each example, the two worlds coalesce, creating an atmosphere which does not distinguish between truthful circumstance and imagination. Such an atmosphere is generally rich with the most fantastical fears as well as ecstasies. In Lord of the Flies, Jack Merridew perpetually controls his society with the use of fear. By purposely introducing “the beast”, yet knowing himself that there is no such creature, he cleverly establishes a state of fright amongst his followers. With this conniving manipulation, Jack eliminates the boys? ability to differentiate between what is truth and what is fantasy. Like that of a primitive religion, the society gradually evolves into one of terrible fear and irrational behavior.As it has been demonstrated through this research, there is a plethora of similarities between elements of primitive religion and the literary content of Lord of the Flies. Chant, sacrifice, development of a new identity through ritual, and primitive society?s emphasis on irrational behavior have all been discussed and exemplified. The behaviour of the hunting party provides a graphic account of the key components of a primitive religion.