Lord of the flies is a novel written by William Golding that was published in 1954. The novel is about a group of young evacuated school boys who are forced to survive on an unknown tropical island without any proper parental supervision. Throughout the novel, Golding shows how the relationships between the protagonists: Jack, Piggy, Ralph and Simon, significantly evolve as the novel progresses. At first it is shown that all the children have no issues with each other and are excited that there are not adults present. However, Golding reveals conflicts, betrayal and the clash of personalities between the characters later on, especially when the freedom turns into a nightmare. Furthermore, William Golding introduces every character one by one in brief but precise detail. Each character has unique traits that differ from one another.
There are signs of tension between Ralph and Jack almost from the beginning, especially when the boys deny Jack to be their chief and leader. Ralph by nature is shown to negotiate with others and offers Jack the choir when he becomes leader: "The choir belongs to you of course." Ralph knew that Jack was irritated and thus offers a compromise. By doing this, Ralph saves himself from Jack and brings peace to the whole group of boys as he knew that Jack has an aggressive personality. From the start of the novel, Ralph and Jack have both been very unlike and therefore their relationship has been dire. Ralph is a much more of an open person who also suggests having a democracy and rules amongst everyone on the island. Whereas, Jack only wants himself to be the leader and wishes that his saying has always got to be final. "New understanding that Piggy had given him." This quotation suggests that Ralph is willing to take ideas from other people in order to achieve the best possible outcome for the group of children. "Jack had a 'compulsion' to track down and kill that was swallowing him up." This shows that Jack feels he has the right to control others but at this moment of time he is powerless. From the start till the end, violence is always present in the relationship of the main characters. This shows that the relationships between themselves is not very strong and can break easily. Thus, all the friendships and good relationships on the island break down, either through bullying and violence or death. For example: when Ralph finds out Piggy's nickname in the beginning: "Ralph danced out into the hot air of the beach and then returned as a fighter-plane, with wings swept back, and machine-gunned Piggy."Moreover, Ralph and Jack seem to be friends at the start, yet Ralph knows Jack is hurt when he is not elected chief. This rivalry for power is at the root of some of the violence.
Ralph represents democracy as he is leader by a democratic vote, and attempts to please the majority.Â Jack represents totalitarianism as he does not appreciate the results of the election, eventually seizing power in a coup and ruling alone. He also represents the anti thesis of democracy, dictatorship. Everyone must follow the set rules and he shows a distinct disrespect for the conch and its followers.Â The deterioration of Jacks relationship with Ralph could be interpreted as the declining of friendship within the course of the novel. Also it could mean that Ralph and Jack have two opposing views and thus leading them to cut off their friendship.
Moreover, the conch is associated with Ralph whereas the lord of the flies is linked with Jack. The conch represents democratic order on the tropical island which also shows Ralph's leadership. As the conflict gets worse between Ralph and Jack, the conch loses its symbolic importance of representing democratic order amongst the children. The breaking of the conch at the scene where Piggy was murdered reflects upon how civilization has been displaced by savagery on the island (harmony has turned into chaos). The murders of Simon and Piggy and the attempt on Ralph's life reveal the boys complete descent into savagery and the relations between Jack and Ralph. In the beginning, Ralph and Jack only had mere conflicts between themselves. However as the amount of disagreements amongst them increases, the argumentative conflicts turn into violent battles, especially from Jack when he tries to take Ralph's life or forcing Piggy to give his spectacles in order to make a fire.
The foremost theme ofÂ Lord of the FliesÂ is the conflict between the human descent towards savagery and the rules of civilization. Throughout the novel, the conflict is dramatized by the clash between Ralph and Jack (two different characters), who represent civilization (Ralph) and savagery (Jack). While Ralph uses his ability to establish rules, protect the good of the group, and implement the English society the boys were raised in, Jack is interested in gaining authority over the other boys. When Jack assumes control of his own tribe, he demands the complete subservience of the other boys, who not only serve him but respect him as an icon. Jack's hunger for power suggests that he isn't really concerned about the others but just wants to have rule over them.
Piggy sometimes is seen to have a motherly figure relationship towards Ralph. He always advises Ralph to go in the correct direction. He keeps Ralph from giving in to Jack's commands and also in believing the beast. Piggy influences Ralph in many ways. Ralph can always ask Piggy when in need of advice. Even though Ralph betrayed piggy in numerous ways: "He's not fatty. His name is Piggy!" Piggy still sticks beside Ralph and always supports him till the very end. Additionally, Piggy's glasses represent responsibility and maturity. After Jack steals and breaks Piggy's glasses it makes it more difficult for Piggy to see. The broken glasses symbolize the beginning of the loss of civilization.
Simon is a very different character compared to the others. Simon is different because he is the sane one. He is essentially a representation of Jesus. He falls three times, and then is killed brutally and unnecessarily. He is a peace-lover, and he goes off by himself and never once judges or kills or does anything he shouldn't. He was a lonely boy but an independent truth seeker. Simon was the only boy to also find out the truth compared to the others. He tried to free others from their fear of the beast (superstition) and for his pains, was cold-bloodedly murdered. The forest clearing that Simon discovers in Chapter Three is another example of the boys' loss of innocence. Simon first finds the clearing as calm and beautiful, but when he returns, he finds The Lord of the Flies at its centre, a dominant representation of how the innocence of childhood has been ruined by fright and savagery.
Golding uses the settings as different symbols throughout the novel. One of the first symbols is the main setting, the island. The island in itself represents isolation of the children as it is far away from any other civilisation. Another setting that conveys the idea of evil being brought in to the children is the jungle. The jungle is regularly described as a dark place, frequently containing something upsetting, whether it is the "snake-thing" or the beast. Moreover, deep within the jungle is where the pigs are hunted and killed. This reveals that evil exists on the inside of something, in this case, the jungle (where other living creatures are murdered).
At the end ofÂ Lord of the Flies, Ralph weeps "for the end of innocence," a cry for one of the novel's major concerns, the loss of innocence. When the boys are first abandoned on the island, they behave like children, enjoying their independence. By the end of the novel, however, they reflect the warlike behaviour of a world war. They attack, torture, and even murder one another without uncertainty or regret. The loss of the boys' innocence on the island is corresponding to their descent into savagery.
To conclude with, I believe there has been a massive change in attitude and relationships amongst the children. At first, all of them thought it was going to be a 'fun' experience however it turned out to be a dreadful one instead. For example: in the beginning the boys used the conch to display order and rules however this changes noticeably as the novel develops. It ends with the boys just listening to their leader Jack and whatever he orders them to (like an aggressive dictator).The main trigger was probably when Jack referred to and using the beast in order to become the leader of a tribe of boys. This then led to the ultimate split of the whole group as it once was. At first, Jack was probably content with just leading the choir boys but as time went on and the conflicts grew between him and Piggy or him and Ralph, he then tries to establish his own group of boys that would challenge Ralph's; completely forgetting what their ultimate goal was, getting rescued. Taken as a whole, lord of the flies starts with harmony where the group of children are keen to stick with one another to chaos where they start to kill and murder. The loss of civilization occurs when the murders of Piggy and Simon take place (Maybe Golding is trying to suggest that evil always conquers good). In the end, the boys are rescued by a naval officer, but it is certainly not a full salvation for them. They can never return to the innocence of childhood, for they know first-hand the inherent evil in human nature. Moreover, when the children get rescued, the officer is flawed at how the children are. He expresses his disappointment because he thought 'English' boys could put up a better show than what they had done. Ralph realizes this, and that's why he cries at the very end. Humanity as a whole is flawed, and that's a tough lesson for a child to learn.Â
By Moulik Nagesh