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Study on the lord of the flies

3290 words (13 pages) Essay in English Literature

5/12/16 English Literature Reference this

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A. Ralph: Ralph brings civilization to the island with his exceptional leadership and sagacity. Through his wise decisions, he continuously pulls the boys closer to being rescued. However, Ralph’s effort to bring peace miserably fails at the end, as boys gradually begin to go against his beliefs.

Civilized: As an elected leader of the tribe, Ralph repeatedly attempts to coordinate civilization unlike the other boys. While others stay ignorant to the situation by focusing on having fun on the island, Ralph does not cease to pour all his strengths to civilize the boys by building huts, creating fire, and assigning duties.

Unwavering: Throughout the novel, Ralph refuses to succumb to the barbaric lifestyle the other boys have yielded to, despite the given circumstances on this chaotic island. Ralph continues to keep his humanity by holding in his inner savagery, even when his own life is at stake.

B. Piggy: As a fat kid with asthma, Piggy holds all the essential traits to being a stereotypical annoying child, causing many to dislike him. Although Piggy can be considered as the most intelligent one in the group, he often fails to get acknowledged and appreciated by others for the contributions he made to the island.

Dependent: Despite the sensible decisions he brings to the table that would be prudent to the boys’ survival, Piggy always requires Jack’s presence to get things done. Piggy needs Ralph to accomplish even a simplest task on the island, like giving the littluns commands. Without Jack, Piggy is not respected or accepted by others.

Faithful: Through thick and thin, Piggy stays by Ralph’s side as his best friend. Almost nowhere in the book can Ralph be seen without Piggy, as two seem to be inseparable throughout the whole store. Piggy devotedly guides Ralph to the right direction and stays faithful, even to the point where he sacrifices his own life.

C. Simon: Simon is an alienated figure in the tribe of the boys on the island, due to his unique maturity and morality toward life. Although he prefers being alone in a deserted area away from others on the island, Simon still puts his effort to help and save the boys from trouble. Unfortunately, his innocent efforts later takes his life away at the end, akin to an image of Jesus Christ.

Compassionate: Simon may look like he is apathetic toward other boys through his isolated status in the tribe, however, he clearly is not; Simon is actually very compassionate about them. While others are occupied on having fun, Simon alone pours his weak strengths to build huts for the littluns. Also, it is Simon that retrieves back Piggy’s flown away specs back to him when it flies away from Jack’s heavy blow.

Sacrificial: Simon becomes one of the first boys to die on the island, despite all his goodness. Although he never harmed others or even intended to, Simon gets killed anyway by the boys’ own bare hands. It can be inferred that he has been sacrificed to nature for the sins other boys have committed, making him the scapegoat of the tribe.

D. Jack: After landing on the island, Jack undergoes a dramatic transition from a choirboy who likes to flaunt his ability to “sing C sharp,” to a savage who likes to decapitate a dead pig’s body. Jack rejects to adapt to the civilization offered by Ralph, but desires to create his own fully under his power.

Rebellious: In contrary to the rest of the boys, who easily agree to the decisions made by Ralph, Jack alone refuses to be a follower. Instead, he wishes to have full authority of his own, later resulting him to make his own separate tribe. Jack simply does not want to be under someone else’s control, which later causes war and deaths among the boys.

Charismatic: Charisma is an essential trait for all leaders. Inclined for power, Jack luckily cherishes that charismatic side in him, unlike Ralph who miserably fails to lead his boys into right direction. All his actions, like camouflaging his face with paint, seem admirable to his followers’ eyes. Due to Jack’s such trait, he eventually obtains full control over his boys in the tribe.

Minor

E. Samneric: Samneric is a collective term describing Sam and Eric, who are identical twins therefore undistinguishable to others. They tend to be followers in the story to whoever is in power, whether it is Ralph or Jack.

Powerless: Samneric are very insignificant to the tribe, as they have no voice or power over what they do. They are expected to obey whatever commands are given to them under any circumstances.

Loyal: Although Samneric abandoned Ralph and Piggy for Jack, their loyalty toward the former two can often be seen in the novel. When Ralph is being vigilantly followed by Jack’s tribe for him to be killed, Samneric chooses to support Jack, by alerting him that he is being wanted. Samneric’s loyalty toward Ralph ultimately causes Jack’s tribe to collapse in the end.

F. Roger: As Jack’s main follower and his official torturer of the tribe, Roger is a cruel boy that only sees hatred in his eyes. No matter who the target is, Roger wishes to destroy them using violence. He sheds no pity on the littluns either, as he once brutally demolishes their treasured sand castle.

Sadistic: Even though he purposely misses the shots, Roger is once seen throwing dangerous rocks at Henry. Roger is fully aware that the rocks will frighten the victim in terror, however, the thought does not bother him at all. He is also the person to roll the boulder that murders Piggy.

G. The Lord of the Flies: The Lord of the Flies is a voice spoken through stick-impaled sow’s head, and is only heard by Simon. It is unknown whether the Lord of the Flies is Simon’s hallucination or the island’s supernatural figure.

Cruel: The Lord of the Flies signify the cruelty that took over all the boys. It self-proclaims to be indestructible, and declares that it will remain among the boys eternally. It mercilessly threatens innocent Simon as well, who gets terrified of the Lord’s existence.

5. Settings

I. The Lagoon: “Blue of all shades and shadowy green and purple,” the beautiful lagoon of the island serves as the opening point of the story where the scattered boys of the island come together for the first time. Described as an oasis in middle of a dry desert created by an “act of God,” the lagoon offers a peaceful and soothing feeling to the readers. Nothing ominous seems to happen to the boys once they are in the lagoon, in contrary to many other settings in the novel.

II. The Forest: The jungle in the island can be seen as the place where savagery in the boys hatch to life. With “pigs squealing,” “mice shrieking,” and “birds screaming” everywhere, the forest is undoubtedly an epitome of wilderness in the novel. The boys’ first murder happens in the forest, as well as their very last. Whenever the forest enters the scene, readers can automatically assume that an act of savagery will take place, whether it is slaughtering a pig for food, or killing an innocent boy with bare hands.

III. Castle Rock: Like a magical fortress surrounded by “strange growths of coral, poly, and weed,” Castle Rock initially makes an exhilarating impression on the boys with its visual enticement. Despite its outer beauty, however, Ralph slowly comes to realize that the Castle Rock is not suitable for a shelter due to lack of essential survival elements like “fresh water,” “food,” and “shelter.” On the other hand, Jack makes an argument that the rock is actually ideal for a shelter, as it is equipped with surplus amount of harmful weapons. Jack later claims Castle Rock as his tribe’s fort, making use of those very weapons to defeat their enemies like Piggy. In conclusion, the Castle Rock signify a form of savagery for the readers, as one of deathful places on the island.

6. Plot

In middle of an ongoing war, a group of English boys land on an uninhabited island from an aircraft. They soon gather to the blow of the conch made by Ralph and Piggy.

Led by charismatic Ralph, the boys establish a civilization by creating shelter, collecting food, and assigning duties.

To higher their chance of being rescued, the boys decide to make fire as a signal. However, Jack’s boys become obsessed with hunting instead, causing their existence to go unnoticed by a passing-by ship.

“Littluns” claim that they have seen a foreign creature on the island, and calls it “beastie.”

Unable to withstand Ralph, Jack rebels out of the tribe and forms his own. A handful amount of boys follow Ralph, leaving him and Piggy behind.

The new group begins to hunt wild pigs in the jungle like savages, and even decapitates one of the sows for a gift to the “beast.” Through that head, the Lord of the Flies speak to Simon of how evil will not be defeated on this island.

Silhouette of a fallen parachutist makes an image akin to a large living creature, terrorizing the boys. Simon discovers the true identity of this object, and attempts to tell the others about it.

The boys, masked in their savagery, mistake Simon’s emergence as the beast’s and brutally slaughters him with bare hands.

The next day, Jack’s boys commit to themselves to steal Piggy’s specs to create fire. In the progress, one of the boys throws a heavy boulder aimed directly at Piggy. Along with the conch, Piggy ends his life in ruins.

Jack’s boys continue to hunt for Jack in hopes of killing him. After setting the whole forest on fire in attempt to compel Ralph away from his hiding, an officer sights the smoke.

The story comes to close as the boys finally get rescued.

7. Major Themes

A. Importance of Civilization:

A war is being waged outside the island, disrupting the civilized peace. The war then causes the boys to be dropped onto the unknown island.

The boys slowly drag themselves away from being rescued due to their own rebellious acts against the leader.

Unorganized life on the island ultimately leads the boys into complete catastrophe.

The boys end up losing their sanity due to lack of civilization, later even killing each other.

Golding emphasizes the need for civilization in order for a community to survive, whether the group is small as a tribe, or big as a country. Without order, each individual’s greed and needs will soon cause corruption, resulting in total chaos that might even affect one’s life.

B. Corruption of Power:

Jack’s desire for control causes inner conflicts in the group, causing the tribe to separate into two sides: Jack’s and Ralph’s.

As time passes, Jack abuses his newfound strength by fulfilling his needs.

Jack quickly becomes corrupted with his control. He even orders his boys to murder Ralph.

It is natural for a man to be thirsty for power, as the same goes for Jack. However, Golding highlights that with excessive power, comes an uncontrollable tyranny. Jack was given all the power he had ever wanted in his new tribe with no restrictions whatsoever. Unable to control his unconstrained freedom, Jack soon lets his inner greed take over him.

C. The Danger of Fear:

It is the terrorizing fear in the littluns that bring the “beastie” to life.

The boys’ fear of “the beastie” causes them to takes away Simon’s life.

Through depicting all the unfortunate outcomes caused by having fear in something, Golding dramatically shows the effect a mere emotion has over one’s actions. In other words, the author suggests that one should actually fear the emotion “fear” itself, for its danger is immense and unpredictable.

8. Symbols

A. The Conch

“I got the conch… I got the right to speak.” (Chapter 2, p.36)

“He put the conch to his lips and began to blow. Saves appeared, painted out of recognition…” (Chapter 11, p.157)

The conch symbolizes authority, civilization, and order on the island. Once the conch is blown, all the boys are expected to gather at the location of the sound. It would be not an overstatement to say that the conch alone possesses more power than anyone in the tribe, with exceptions to Jack and Ralph. Also, each and every member of the tribe is enforced to obey the laws of the conch, providing a form of civilization to the island.

B. The Fire

“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.” (Chapter 2, p.33)

“All at once the lights flickering ahead of him merged together… and a tall bush directly in his path burst into a great fan-shaped flame.” (Chapter 12, p. 165)

As one of the most vital element for survival, Ralph and Piggy become highly obsessed with the burning of fire, and even attempts to spark a battle with Jack for letting the fire go out. Fire symbolizes hope and anticipation for the boys to get rescued, as it seems to be the only way available. Ironically, Golding uses fire to depict destruction as well, as becomes a tool for savages to hunt Ralph at the end.

C. Piggy’s Specs

“His specs-use them as burning glasses!” (Chapter 2, p.32)

“You haven’t got Piggy’s specs, so you can’t [start the fire again].” (Chapter 7, p. 102)

In the beginning, Piggy’s specs are treated as an annoyance to others, since it is nothing but a mere visual aide for almost-blind Piggy. However, right at the moment when Ralph discovers its new use, his specs instantly become a must-need object for all boys’ survival. Piggy’s specs enable the boys to ignite a fire by focusing the sunlight rays, and if a group does not have this very tool, the group becomes helpless. All in all, the specs symbolize intellect in the tribe, as the tribe cannot be functional without them.

9. Imagery

I. “The boy with fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way toward the lagoon. Though he had taken off his school sweater and trailed it now from one hand, his grey shirt stuck to him and his hair was plastered to his forehead. All round him the long scar smashed into the jungle was a bath of heat. He was clambering heavily among the creepers and broken trunks when a bird, a vision of red and yellow, flashed upwards with a witch-like cry.” (Chapter 1, p.1)

Marking off the beginning of the novel, Ralph makes his first appearance as a boy who clearly seems tired and fatigued. To emphasize his weak physical condition, it is depicted by the author that Ralph is “trailing” his taken-off shirt. Akin to dragging, the image of Ralph “trailing” the shirt suggests that the boy is fully drained of energy from exhaustion. Many factors around him support Ralph’s tiredness, such as “a bath of heat” hammering him down oppressively.

II. “They lay there listening, at first with doubt but then with terror to the description the twins breathed at them between bouts of extreme silence. Soon the darkness was full of claws, full of the awful unknown and menace. An interminable dawn faded the stars out, and at last light, sad and grey, filtered into the shelter. They began to stir through still the world outside the shelter was impossibly dangerous. The maze of the darkness sorted into near and far, and at the high point of the sky the cloudlets were warmed with color. A single sea bird flapped upwards with a hoarse cry…” (Chapter 6, p. 82)

In hopes of finding the beast come alive, Sam and Eric fall into the abyss of darkness as they observe “the world outside” in “extreme silence.” However, instead of a beast, only the menacing tranquil of nature greets the twins into its “interminable” sky. Although silent and calm, the mood is yet far from being peaceful, but rather “full of claws” and “full of awful.” Supporting this eerie atmosphere, a single sea bird alone from its flock fills the air with a “hoarse cry.” It seems the discomfort and fear in the boys’ minds are creating an awkward strange ambiance for all.

III. “The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee; the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist. Piggy, saying nothing, with no time for even a grunt, traveled through the air sideways from the work, turning over as he went. The rock bounded twice and was lost in the forest. Piggy fell forty feet and landed on his back across the square red rock in the sea.” (Chapter 11, p. 163)

In this passage, the boys and their big boulder brutally obliterates the two key figures of civilization the island has had: Piggy and the conch. Through this destruction, Golding declares the end for all civilization and humanity on the island, both “ceas[ing] to exist.” The power of the rebellions was clearly too strong for Piggy or Ralph to overcome, ultimately leaving them vulnerable for total defeat. Also, as expressed through “thousand white fragments” of the destroyed conch, the damage done seems to be irreversible for the boys.

10. Significance of title of work

Although neither real or majorly significant in the story, the title of the book, Lord of the Flies actually carries a very important meaning to it. As a sacrificial head of a sow pierced with a stick, the Lord of the Flies symbolizes the indestructible fear, evil, and savagery inside all boys on the island. Those three essence of life ultimately causes the conflicts in the novel, especially between humane Ralph and savaged Jack.

11. Author’s techniques

Allusion

“Then the sleeping leviathan breathed out, the waters rose…” (Chapter 6. p. 93)

Simon being Jesus Christ, Jack being Judas

Golding uses a handful amount of biblical allusions in Lord of the Flies that are easily noticeable, major ones being the characters. It is quite evident that Simon portrays the image of Jesus Christ in the Bible, as both are known to be the innocent scapegoats in their respective story. Also, Jack partially reflects the image of Judas in the Bible, with both being the betrayer and evil in their group. Lastly, Golding often uses biblical allusions in specific sentences as well, like how he illustrated a scene of rising water as the breath of “the sleeping leviathan.” Leviathan is actually a sea monster in the Bible that is known to be the gatekeeper of Hell.

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