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Lord of the Flies-Savagery

In: English and Literature

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Savagery in The Lord of the Flies

William Golding’s novel ‘The Lord of The flies’ presents us with a group of English boys who are isolated on a desert island, left to try and retain a civilised society. In this novel Golding manages to display the boys slow descent into savagery as democracy on the island diminishes.
At the opening of the novel, Ralph and Jack get on extremely well. We are informed Jack, “shared his burden,” and there was an, “invisible light of friendship,” between the two boys. Jack changes considerably throughout this novel. At first he tells us, “I agree with Ralph we’ve got to have rules and obey them,” This shows us that at the beginning of the novel, just like Ralph, he wants to uphold a civilised society. We are also notified, “Most powerfully there was the conch.” As the conch represents democracy we can see that at the beginning of the novel the boys sustain a powerful democratic society.
This democratic society does not last very long as the children (especially Jack) have a lack of respect for the conch and the rules. We can see this when Jack decides, “We don’t need the conch anymore, we know who should say things.” As the conch represents democracy we can see that civilisation on the island is braking up and savagery is starting to take over. We can also see a brake up in society when Jack says, “Bollocks to the rules!” Here we can see that Jack contradicts himself while managing to diminish the assembly and the power of the conch. Golding has made the two boys’ act similar at the beginning of the novel to show us how ‘normal’ they are. This demonstrates Golding’s view that absolutely anyone can be over ruled by power and become savage (like Jack) when civilisation collapses.
After this incident we can see continual conflict between Ralph and Jack. We can see this when Jack proclaims that Ralph, “Isn’t a proper chief.” Golding is trying to show us that this conflict is very similar to the conflict between humanities inner barbarism and the living influence of reason. We can see other evidence of this conflict within ourselves, with the masks that Jack and his hunters put on. We are informed that Jack, “ rubbed the charcoal stick between the patches of red and white on his face” The mask represents the dark line (charcoal) between good (white) and evil (red) within ourselves. These masks also let the boys hide from their conscience we can see this when we are informed, “The mask was a thing on it’s own, behind which Jack hid, liberated from shame and self-consciousness.” We can see that the mask releases Jack from rational behaviour, which helps him, assert power. These camouflage masks are used in warfare, which clearly links his new identity as a shameless killer just like the adults fighting at war.
Golding shows this two-sided struggle between good and evil with the fire. On one hand the fire is the only source of warmth, light and hope of rescue. While on the other hand it brings death and destruction to the island. Golding is trying to show us there are aspects of good and evil inside each one of us.
It is not only Jack that liked having power. We are told that the little’uns enjoyed the, “knowledge that they had out whited a living thing, imposed their will upon it and taken away it’s life like a long satisfying drink.” Golding has done this to show us that even ‘innocent’ children have a savage side to them that is hidden by society.
As the big’uns, Roger and Maurice torment the littl’uns by destroying their sandcastles they still hear in their heads the reprimanding adult voices of the civilisation they have left behind. Roger throw rocks at Henry, but he throws them so they miss because he is surrounded as Henry is, by, “the protection of parents and school and policemen and the law. Rogers arm was conditioned by a civilisation that knew nothing of him and was in ruins. ”
Golding uses a lot of symbolism in his novel. Even the boy’s names represent their hidden desires. Jack’s name in origin is Hebrew and means “One who supplants,” which reflects his use of force, while Rogers name is German in origin and means “spear” which reflects his desire to kill.
We can see that towards the beginning of the novel Jack was not able to kill a pig. We are told that it was, “because of the enormity of the knife descending and cutting into living flesh; because of the unbearable blood.” This is one of the only weaknesses that Jack shows throughout the book. He says to the boys, “Next time.” Which shows us that he can not tolerate weakness in himself. Later on in the novel when the boys kill a sow we are shown the boys were, “wedded to her in lust” This shows us that the boys have developed a passion for hunting. The sows death and disfigurement marks the triumph of evil. As they chant “Kill the beast, cut her throat, bash her in,” We can see how this hunting is like a game to the boys.
Later on in the novel we are informed that this “game” turns into a, “desire to hunt and kill,” which becomes, “over mastering.” This shows us that the boys including Ralph are turning savage, as they become unable to control their desires to kill.
We are shown in the novel that Simon is the only boy that does not believe in the beast, he is the only one two see the beast in himself and others. His idea is confirmed to us when the ‘Lord of the Flies’ tells us that, “I’m part of you… I’m the reason why it’s no go? Why things are what there?” Golding has used this in his novel to try and voice his opinion that we all have inner evil desires.
Just before Simons death we are told frequently that Jack, “Waved his spear.” Where as before the conch used to be used to get attention it is now Jacks spear. This shows us that the boys are not interested in democracy but are rapidly becoming drawn like Jack into savagery.
When Ralph threatens he will blow the conch Jack tells us, “We shan’t hear it.” This shows us that Jack no longer wants to be ruled by democracy. This shows us how animal like he has become because democracy and speech itself is one of the few things that separates us from animals.
Throughout the novel Golding uses weather to symbolise a kind of universal assessment of the actions that have taken place. It is also used as a way to underscore the tension between and extreme reactions of the boys. We are shown this when Ralph points out, “There’s going to be a storm.” This slowly builds us up to Simon’s death.
We Can see that even Ralph and Piggy have a savage side as they, “found themselves eager to take place in this demented but partly safe society.” This demonstrates Goldings view that everyone has a savage side to them.
At Simon’s murder the boys, “Leapt on to the beast, screamed, struck, bit and tore.” This clearly shows us that the boys are completely barbaric and have no self-conciseness. The reason why Golding did not inform us straight away that Simon was the beast was because he wanted us to try and see things from the boys’ perspective.
As Simon was trying to tell the boys that the beast did not exist, his death symbolises that mankind can’t face the truth about their inner desires.
Part of Golding’s intent was to demonstrate that the evil is not recognised in specific populations or situations. On the island the beast is manifest in the deadly tribal dances, war paint and manhunt: in the outside world the same lust for power and control plays out as a nuclear war. Throughout ‘The Lord of the Flies’ Golding has managed to show that evil is present in everyone.

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