Theme of Civilization and Savagery in The Novel The Lord of The Flies
The novel written by William Golding is an allegorical novel where lots of elements of fiction are used to communicate the main ideas and themes of the novel. One of the themes that can be explored trough this novel is civilization and savagery. The central concern of Lord of The Flies deals with the collapse of civilization to the rebirth of civilization. The conflict appear from this theme is communicate through the disintegration of the British young boy's well look behaviour as they adapt themselves to a uncivilized, brutal life in the jungle after they were stranded on an island. The theory of inborn evil human evil hold an essential aspect in this theme as the young boys evolve more primitive, the beast that they scared of developed within themselves. The inborn evil is the beast that destructs the civilization as savageness call for its status. In the novel, "The lord of the flies" symbolizes the existence of the beast within the young boy's mind. The rift of the theme of civilization and savagery is also communicated through the symbols exist in this novel, the conch which related with the character Ralph and the lord of the flies which related with the character Jack. The fundamental concernment of this novel is the theme of civilization and savagery where civilization giving away to savagery within human heart, as the young boys shed their civilization for savagery after being influence by fear, superstition and their desires.
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Through the whole of this novel, the theme civilization and savagery communicates by the conflict between Ralph and Jack, who respectively represent civilization and savagery. The vary theory are deliberate by each two boy's different attitude toward authorization on the island. Ralph who was selected to become a chief used his authority to set up rules on that island in order to have a better life between them. From the novel, Ralph said "That's what this shell called. I'll give the conch to the next person to speak. He can hold it when he's speaking" (Golding, 43). This shows that the only person who can speak is the one who hold the shell which called conch during the meeting. Ralph has set up the rules so that no one will interrupt when someone is speaking to ensure the smoothness of the meeting which shows us that they are still civilized boys that have moral and ethical codes of the English society. On the other hand, Jack is more interest in gaining power over the others to satisfy his most primal impulses which is his desires of hunting pigs. "All the same you need an army-for hunting. Hunting pigs", said Jack on the novel (Golding, 43). Jack desires for power shows that savagery has started taking over his mind. When Jack begin acting savage, the savage side become evident with the power of the leader, Ralph, collapse. Jack overthrows Ralph as a leader. He manage to persuade the others boys to join his 'tribe', a tribe which involve with hunting pigs, making sacrifices to the beast and having fun without realizing that they were stranded on an deserted island. This is proved by the line "Now listen. We might go later to the castle rock. But now I'm going to get more of the biguns away from the conch and all that. We'll kill the pig and give a feast." He paused and went on more slowly. "And about the beast. When we kill we'll leave some of the kill for it. Then it won't bother us, maybe" (Golding, 165). He and his tribe go so far until it results in the destruction of the peaceful environment on the island as well as the collapsing of their civilized mind.
The cleft of the theme is also demonstrate through the novel's major symbol which are the conch that affiliate with character Ralph and The Lord of the Flies that affiliate with the character Jack. The conch that was found by Ralph is a powerful symbol which shows the democratic order on that island, agreeing Ralph's leadership that was determine through the election and also the power of assembly among the young boys. From the novel, Piggy said, "We can use this to call the others. Have a meeting. They'll come when they hear us" (Golding, 22). This shows that the conch has the power to call the others for a meeting which represent the symbol of authority and order that related to the civilization among the boys. However, as the engagement between Ralph and Jack getting worse, the conch loses symbolic importance. "You haven't got it with you," said Jack, sneering." You left it behind. See, clever? And the conch doesn't count at the end of this island" (Golding, 186). From what Jack has said, this shows that the conch started to loses its power of authority and order and represent the decline of civilization on the island. In the meanwhile, The Lord of the Flies, which is a sacrifice to the suppositious 'beast' on the island, contributes to the dominance of the savagery on the island and also symbolise Jack's authority over his tribe. From the novel, Jack spoke loudly, "This head is for the beast. It's a gift" (Golding, 170). In addition, the demolition of the conch at the scene where Piggy was killed manifests the complete destruction of civilization on the island. In the novel, the devastation of the conch is shows from the phase, "The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee, the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist(Golding, 222). At the end of this novel, the savagery has totally displaced civilization as the prevailing system on the island.
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The clash between the theme of civilization and savagery in this novel also can be explored through the symbol of fire which associate with civilization and the symbol of mask which associate with savagery. The symbol of fire in this novel is very important as it bring lots of meaning to the boys. It represents the hope of being rescue, survival and also civilization. In the novel, Ralph said "There's another thing. We can help them to find us. If a ship comes near the island they may not notice us. So we must make smoke on top of the mountain. We must make a fire"(Golding, 49). This indicates that the boys know that the fire is very important because without the smoke from the fire, they would never be rescued. The symbol of fire shows the only civilization left on the island as it is a form of hope, survival and most importantly, rescue as Ralph said in the novel "Your only hope is keeping a signal fire going as long as there's light to see. Then maybe a ship will notice the smoke and come and rescue us and take us home. But without that smoke we've got to wait till some ship comes by accident. We might wait years; till we were old..." (Golding, 219). On the other hand, the symbol of mask in this novel stands for savagery and barbaric behaviour. The mask has encouraged the incivility in the boys and provides them with a different identity. From the novel, Jack said "For hunting. Like in the war. You know -dazzle paint. Like thing trying to look like something else..." (Golding, 79).The mask has made the boys started to transform from civil to savage. When the boys hide behind the mask, the boys somehow are given a new identity which gives confidence and a sense of carefree. Behind the masquerade, they commit acts of barbarity. It liberates them from shame and leads them into a savage like creatures. It also detaches them from reality and triggers them to neglect their responsibility.
As the novel progress, Golding shows how different people feel the influences of the instincts of civilization and savagery to different degrees. Generally, however, Golding implies that the instinct of savagery is far more primal and fundamental to the human mind than the instinct of civilization. The Lord of the Flies is a chronicles of civilization giving way to savagery within human nature, as the young boys who were stranded on the island shaped by the supremely civilized British society become fully savage guided only by fear, superstition and desire.