Through The Looking Glass Into Human Nature English Literature Essay

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This significant catch phrase above describing the group of boy's from William Golding's alarming novel, Lord of the Flies, provides an insight into a major theme portrayed in this story, that of violence as seen in human nature. "In fact, in every culture as well as in any language childhood and innocence are synonymous", yet the novel Lord of the Flies, attacks the root of our civilization and gives it new meaning, this is why Lord of the Flies can be considered one of the most complex novels written in the twentieth century. The novels in depth into man is so visible from the on start, that seeing the devilish behavior of these boys going from a civilize group to that of shear savages, would make anyone turn over in their grave as well as present the novel as an allegory on human society today. Was it their upbringing or was it the lack of freedom that drives them into the frenzy that befalls on them.

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From the initial moments, the novel packs a "wallop" and through the eyes of its protagonist Ralph as well as its antagonist Jack, Golding takes us on a journey and transports us into their world of make believe as that of "Alice Adventures in Wonderland", introducing several major themes along the way, the most prominent being that of human nature. Indeed, many have voiced their personal opinions on Lord of the Flies being an allegory novel. In order to understand the novel as being allegory we must come to understand what is allegory? An allegorical novel or story in one in which its characters, setting, objects, and plot stand out and are viewed outside of the story itself. Although, the novel is foreshadow by other major events which will provide us with a deeper insight into the personalities of the characters as well as the responsibility as to, who is to blame, and the true outcome of what happens to these boys, we'll have to wait and see.

Golding uses abstract meaning by the use of images in such a way that we come to understand them as being concrete in their representation. An example of this would be the novel Animal Farm, by George Orwell in which the animals take on humanistic traits as well as human vices in which the images help in their representation for us to understand this novel.

While Golding allows us to gaze out into the world of Lord of the Flies, by way of a looking glass, the boys make the best of their ordeal in order to survive their crash-landing onto a deserted island somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, just as "Alice Adventures in Wonderland", in the strange world called "Wonderland". In which the animals take on humanistic traits; physical in size as well as human in nature, making the novel somewhat complex in such a way that we interpret it as allegorizing during the period in time it was written at.

It must be noted that Lord of the Flies was written during a time of turmoil which was at the end of World War II. Thus, if we take this into account the historical backdrop of the novel may be even viewed as historical allegory, in which we can place its characters to have a political reference to the world leaders during that moment in time.

Golding also, presents the tragic and the inevitable loss of childhood innocence which brings on traumatic changes, along with bruises, that would scar any child for life. Furthermore, he shows death as a constant and underlying menace waiting to happen. This for many can be seeing as Freudian psychology, which adds to the human nature (human psychology). We the reader feel as though we are looking out through a looking glass and taking a glimpse beforehand of what's to come for all of humanity. By this I mean is man prone to do as those in the past did or do we simply give in and take the short route… giving in to immoral conduct, free of no responsibility as appose to taking on some sort of personal responsibility. If so, are we seeing a glimpse of evil in today's society?

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Since the dawn of civilization, many great philosophers' have question man to explain his or her transgression in order to provide some sort of clarity for the future. Golding by way of this novel takes us down the path of human nature in order to help us understand its truth. First, we meet Ralph the protagonist, along with Piggy a secondary character who is often portrayed by Golding as being wise for his age by using vivid imagery in his wording. We also see Ralph at the beginning being characterized as a strong, resourceful and a fair young man for his age. While on the other hand, he presents Jack the antagonist as being dark with shall we say, "having a hidden agenda", the opposite of Ralph, in the role of a leadership. Golding's perception is evident of these young boys, in their description. While when we read the fine print, and meet Piggy we find it to be somewhat the opposite, because he is reflected as that of a nerd or intellectual.

Furthermore, Golding presents the boys with a strong characterization which helps in their character growth, makes it easier for us to understand them as well as the way he allows them to create a make-shift civilization as we know it in order to survive. These are the first signs in which Golding is using his characters as symbols, giving them true personalities and strengths. These young boys with little or no experience are able to act as quickly as possible in order to get things moving. Through these actions we see and feel the need by the boys to take on responsibility as well as an ethical point of view. Golding connects or writes in a metaphoric style throughout the novel touching on the ideas of the boys, such as the "conch" used to call everyone in for a meeting or assembly showing the severity and reinforcing the strength of these two characters and the power they have on the group.

Throughout the novel, the "conch" comes to symbolize the dawn of a society created by a group of boys' chosen through a democratic system without clearly knowing and understanding its true meaning. Let us call it the "Monkey see Monkey do", syndrome. By this I mean that the boys take it upon themselves to do what they have seen at home and school; whether it was brought on by guilt or moral conscience. But whatever the reason is for establishing some sort of order (civilization) to help in their ordeal on the island, it must be looked at as an embrace with society and its structures as well as its moral principles. We see that Golding uses the actions of his young character (Ralph), which has in his eyes certain qualities of a leader and because of these qualities Ralph is chosen leader as opposed to Jack, who lacks charisma and charm. Golding tries to show in a subtle way that power is somehow reflected through the conch and whoever has the conch has the power.

Golding through the eyes of Ralph shows us yet another side of man that leaves us bewildered, but at the same time amazes us to see that at this day and age man is still humble and naive to a certain degree. Ralph, whom has received the leadership role, decides to share it (power) with Jack, in order to maintain a harmonic atmosphere not knowing what lies ahead for him. Golding is clearly showing us certain basic points of man that deal with characteristic traits, whether they are positive or negative at this moment they are irrelevant, but he hints that these traits have been with man since the dawn of time and he foreshadows them. He makes it clear to us that man takes the wrong path, when dealing with these traits, and by doing so, he is making a statement that man could not ever achieve a truly equitable society, because man is always prone to question himself.

"The idea of the divine monarch arose in the 17th century with Hobbes. He suggested that only in the execution of ultimate power by a single entity, be it a king or ruler, could man be forced to coexist with each other as individuals. We could only trust each other as long as we could trust the ruler to guarantee our transactions with our neighbors, and punish those that broke with these agreements. These rulers used to emerge by the sword, and be replaced in the same way".

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Another major symbol which is important in the novel on the issue of the civilization or the make shift civilization, is that of the "fire". Because here Golding just does not show us a tool for survival or being rescue, but a sense of responsibility toward the group. By this I mean that if someone is not guarding it or watching over it, their chances of survival dwindle down. But as we well know, it was left unattended and a ship passes by and the boys are not rescued. Golding presents to us here one of the first signs of human self destruction (morality) coming into play or shall we say going up against the rules. Ralph social structure which he had created comes tumbling down as that of "Humpty Dumpty". Yes! And all of the king's men and all the kings' horses could put Humpty Dumpty together again.

Later on we see a second sign of the breakdown in the system which is visible when Ralph calls an assembly to see what had happened to the fire as to why no one had attended it and we're presented with the group spliting into two sides, giving their own views as to what seems to be more important.

Meanwhile, Jack comes to the defense of the twins for not being at their post, but out hunting with the others, with the exception of Ralph, Piggy and Simon who were out an about in the island. The novel shifts and takes us down a new path (killing) which places blood on the hands of the boys, showing us how they can inflict pain on something or even someone. Golding uses blood or the killing of the pig, to demonstrate how savage and twisted human beings can be, when there is no supervision or control. At the same time he shows us a group of young boys that can easily be manipulated by someone negative as Jack. At this point in the novel we are confronted and we're overridden on the issue of killing.

Besides for Jack in Lord of the Flies, power represents manipulation to the max; something unheard of in English society of which would condemn him to some sort of sanction by his peers, if he were found guilty. But as we know in society there are always breakdowns, due to manipulation of the rules governing one (rules were made to be broken). Some of the greatest breaches of society have taken place while individuals are at the highest levels of government in which they felt that they are above the law or this is what they come to think, while being at that post.

Golding truly makes his mark on us the readers by pointing out the views of human nature as that of Sméagol in "Lord of the Rings", by J.R.R. Tolkien, in which he sees his refection in the water and comes to term with himself; that he is evil by nature. Golding uses Jack's character to show us that there is a misuse of power by Jack, but he also presents to us that dark side of man "the beast", which we may be looked at as the "mask" that all men have. The point of view being made here is that whether in the political arena or the everyday use, man is prone to have a dark side which is hidden until release, for whatever the reason may be. Golding also points out to us that behind each mask whether it is political in use or daily; man tries to justify its usage for personal gain. Whether this is true or not, it becomes a point for debate. Golding is being outright forward with us in the sense that we have a dark side in us all, always lurking to come out when the time is right. Throughout the novel Golding is always leading us on of things to come, but we the readers have to learn to interpret the signpost. This is what makes the novel so interesting and unpredictable, because at the turn of each page we venture into unchartered territory and possibly loosing ourselves along the way, if we are not careful.

As the novel progresses the characters too take on new meanings and roles. The boys learned to participate with Jacks group of hunters in the hunt for a sow (that is to say if you can't beat them join them), which gives us a new representation or meaning to evil, as view by us the readers. By putting the boys through this circumstance, which is a true example of survival of the fittest. Golding is telling us the reader that we have inherent evil in us all and that it is a natural thing. In order for the boys to survive they must want to survive, this means that they have to make things happened and not wait for things to happen. But at the same time he also shows that man sometimes manipulates his/her actions in order to obtain what he/she wants.

At this stage in the novel Golding gives Jack a calling card, by this I mean, Jack has an advantage that many of the boys are afraid of the dark and do not venture out on their own by day or night to get food by themselves, this allows Jack to control the little kids(littums). The fear of the unknown which is provoke by one of the boys with such words like the "snake thing" later to be called the "beast" or the "beasty thing", allowing fear to rule the island…just adding to the fire toward the unknown giving Jack the upper hand. In which Jack promises to hunt the beast, allowing him to have control (manipulation) over the boys along with giving us yet another example of viewing human nature and its control by someone or some opposing force in our own world today.

In short it is worth stating that Lord of the Flies is a satire of real life events dealing with society as well as peer manipulation. As presented by Golding through the continuous rifts (in-house fighting) between Ralph and Jacks group, which helps in understanding what occurs in real life. By presenting it in this way or fashion Golding is breaking up the groups which have been formed (playing vs. hunting), which allows us to understand why too Ralph, Piggy and Simon separated from the rest of the boys due to their own personal needs and wants. Ralph, who wants the best for the group represents true human reasoning, while, Piggy the true intellectual and Simon the spiritual thinker are left on their own to fend for themselves because of their way of being, too down to earth (nerds). By dividing the boys Golding makes a statement, that while the human race does not live as an equitable society; we can if we wanted to achieve it. We have the resources available to us in order to achieve this goal. But we chose not to in order to keep things balance in nature (Ralph vs. Jack or Man vs. Man). It must be noted that evil could not be present if there were not good, in other words they always need to be doing battle (good vs. evil) in order to coexist.

Again, the novel takes us down yet another path which is morality vs. ethics. The fact that man in his eyes, or its ego, believes that he is the superior creature as that of Jack vs. Ralph, due to the hunt or the nature of killing or that superiority is a certain ability that is needed to lead. Yes it may or may not be! That is not to say that a negative leaders can lead or not lead, but at the same time we know that sometimes people are lead down the wrong path. Golding reasons for taking us down this road whether it is questionable or not, may be looked at as exact. "I hold the view that man is animated by the Unknown, that there is within him an "Es," an "It," some wondrous force which directs both what he himself does, and what happens to him. The affirmation "I live" is only conditionally correct, it expresses only a small and superficial part of the fundamental principle, "Man is lived by the It." (Groddeck, 1923/1961, p. 11)

For instance, if we study well the practice that Jack takes up as a "hunter", he is fostering the nature of killing from the beginning, whether it may be an animal that is to be killed or down the road possibly man. Golding opens the door to the ethics of cultural; "where the murder of a human being will contribute to a negative influence", as it is well documented in the novel by Jack the antagonist and Roger another secondary character that adds to the fire on the aspect of man and his hidden beast waiting for the right moment to be released.

In addition to the aspect of morality vs. ethics in Lord of the Flies, there are many more themes, motifs and symbols that have us at the edge of our seats, asking for more. The conflict of civilization vs. savagery takes us down a path of no-return in which the characters open up their inner most dark side of themselves; all the childlike things that are stored in the closet never to be taken out again.

Nevertheless Golding is not subtle in how he depicts this for us…he builds us to a certain point then he drops us. A clear example of this is Simon's death, how he takes us into the cave where supposedly the "beasty" thing is or the Lord of the Flies lives to find that there is no such thing. Later to take us into the frenzy of the hunters ritual to the frenzy that they build up to and show us how Simon is killed by the hunters. Golding throughout the novel is educating us to find ourselves or better yet to see the "beast" in each one of us and to except and come to terms as "Sméagol in "Lord of the Rings", by J.R.R. Tolkien, in which he sees his refection in the water and comes to term with himself; that he is evil by nature and so are we too. While at the same time he shows us the reality of life how Ralph and Piggy find excuses as to why they too joined the hunters and how they were able to let things escalate to the point that they did. Golding is concurrently showing us a sequence of events to build up to what may be the climax of the novel, always emphasizing the wild and barbaric life in the jungle to that of the instinct of the civilize world (concrete jungle).

Without a doubt the novel takes on new meaning into the world of savagery, no-one is in control, all-hell has broken loose, there is no true leader, and chaos has taken over. The innocence of swimming in the lagoon is long gone; these boys crossover the line of no-return. They have become bloodthirsty killers, they have blood on their hands once again it's a far cry from playing on the sand and looking for coconuts or even laughing at each other, innocence is gone. The killing of Simon has made them all lose of their innocence disrupting their childhood making them into harden criminals. They are now part of the chain-gang… Many would say it was forced on them by society as opposed to the natural instinct of civilization. But many would also venture to say "the devil made me do it". The final confrontation of the civilize world view by Ralph comes when Piggy goes to Castle Rock to question Jack's group as to the killing of Simon to meet up with his death in the hands of Roger yet another true example of savagery and the collapse of a society. Golding tells us in the novel man has a choice he chooses which path to walk on whether it be on the path where great men before him have walked on, or whether it be the other.

Finally, the novel does an excellent job of shifting us from one theme right into another, but at the same time it leaves much for us to come back to at a later time. It gives us an opportunity to truly analyzing it, but it is straight forward with each turn of the page, and tells us that we as humans are truly fragile and so is our society. It raises many questions as well as many eyebrows as to which way we are to go. The novels in depth into man is as visible as to the devilish behavior of these boys transforming from a civilize group to that of shear savages. It is clear at the end for me, that "all power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely". But actually it's truer that power attracts the corruptible. Even our dear protagonist Ralph learns this the hard way when he too becomes a product of the hunt, when he too becomes the animal (sow). At the end of the novel the attention shift toward Ralph the only true resemblance of a true society or civilization as we know it to be left standing. Ralph becomes the "huntee" as that of Reinsford in the "Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell. Golding has been clear in this novel to state that evil can take place anywhere because evil is intrinsic to the human being as a human being. By this we mean we are born with evil in us and cruelty is a part of us and that cruelty can be release at any time even by children. This is true in our society nowadays and this why we have kids killing other kids, due to the lack of guidance by parents.

As previously mention evil is not present if there is no good. Golding has given his novel the right touch or ingredients to make it so explosive that the right conditions are present that of; fear and chaos that creates havoc, to make the boys go into frenzy. We do not need to look through the looking glass and glance out into the world of humanity to view and feel, Ralph in his final moments of agony when he is being hunted down like a beast or dog, everything working against him…Piggy's glasses being used against him to start a fire and smoke him out, but at the same time irony works against the hunters. They never cared for the fire and what is ironic at the end of the novel that it is the fire that blows out of control to the point of rescuing both Ralph and the rest of the boys. Golding signs off his novel with salvation for Ralph and the boys with the Marine that finds them, baffled by the condition that they are in trying to understand, what are they doing and to whom they are doing it to. At the end "Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart, and fall through the air of true, wise friend called Piggy". (Golding 202)