& Lord Of The Flies Essay, Research Paper

Hobbes Leviathan & The Lord of the Flies

A society is defined as a group of people uniting in a common interest. Even though some people do not always seem to have parallel perspectives, they do share one common interest, which is survival. The survival of man is dependent on man s ability to adapt to their needs and surroundings. This concept is known as evolution. The society of man has evolved in its journey through time to help ensure man s survival.

According to Thomas Hobbes Leviathan, it is in the nature of men to thirst for power, or the ability to control. Hobbes writes, a general inclination of all mankind, a perpetual and relentless desire of power after power, that ceases only in death. (p.330) He believes that the thirst for power is insatiable, and will only stop after death. The thirst for power is insatiable because he cannot assure the power and means to live well without the acquisition of more. (p.330) Man can only guarantee his own survival by acquiring more power. Hobbes believes that man s struggle for power begins in a setting that he describes as state of nature .

The state of nature is the name for a society that has no government, no rules, and everyone is granted equal power. An example of a society being in a state of nature would be the island in which The Lord of the Flies takes place. A group of young boys are stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash. Since there are no adults, there are no rules, nor governing body, and everyone has an equal voice in their society. But it is not long before the nature of man takes effect.

The natural thirst for power causes the boys to become enemies, and the island is separated into two groups. With two groups on the island, it is only natural that one group craves to strip the power from the other group. In doing so, the two groups become enemies, and a condition of war is created. There is constant fear of danger and a violent death. During this time, nothing but fighting takes place. Ralph, the leader of one group of boys, tries to emphasize on building shelters and devising plans to help them be rescued. But Jack, the leader of the other group, is obsessed with gaining total power of the island. As a result of his natural thirst for power, he wanted to endeavour to destroy (Hobbes 332) he enemy, Ralph.

In creating leaders, the boys on the island are engaging in a idea that Hobbes calls a social contract . A social contract is a situation where groups of man appoint a leader, but does not limit their power. Ralph and Jack were both sovereigns of their groups. The difference between the two boys was that Jack aggressively driven by his human nature, while Ralph was more passive. The acquiring of power and self-preservation naturally motivated Jack. When presented with the idea that a beast existed, Jack used to boys fear of the beast to gain more power by telling them what they wanted to hear. Jack provided them with comfort in that he relieved them of their fear of the beast by telling them they would hunt and kill the beast. In return for their survival, the boys who joined Jack s group surrendered to him their power. By acquiring this power, Jack s chances of self-preservation were improved dramatically.

In the Leviathan, Hobbes writes about how he thinks a society should be constructed, but his model has some flaws. First of all, the power of the leader, or government, is too great. Corruption in the government can be a problem. An example is, after the death of Simon, Jack has a young boy beaten for no apparent reason, other than to show others what happens to those who oppose him. This is just another way which Jack uses the element of fear to retain his power over the other boys.

Another issue that might raise some questions about Hobbes society is, what happens to a person who does have a religion. Rather than only the fear of death, they also fear external punishment from their God. A person who feared God more than the sovereign would likely not surrender their power to the sovereign. If this were true, Jack would not have been able to assemble his army of boys on the island and Ralph s voice of reason and faith would probably have prevailed.

In Hobbes Leviathan, he expresses how he thinks a society should be constructed, and The Lord of the Flies shows how Hobbes society would be like if it had existed. Logically, Hobbes ideas of the state of nature , social contracts , and condition of war do make sense and can explain certain historical events, but they do not have any empirical evidence. In modern society, the struggles for power (whether is be local, domestic, or international) are still an endless quarrel that seems like it will never end. Even in our society today, there are blemishes and flaws, which will need to be addressed to through time and education of man.


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