Choose a novel in which an important theme is explored. Explain how the author develops this theme throughout the novel.
The Lord of the Flies by William Golding is a novel in which the theme of savagery versus civilisation is explored. Some British boys are stranded on an isolated island at the time of an imaginary nuclear war. On the island we see conflict between two main characters, Jack and Ralph, who respectively represent civilisation and savagery. This has an effect on the rest of the boys throughout the novel as they delve further and further into savagery.
The theme of savagery versus civilisation is first introduced to us through the symbol of the conch shell which we associate with Ralph as he is the person who first uses it and becomes the elected leader of the boys. This symbolises authority amongst the boys. At the first assembly Ralph says “I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak…he won’t be interrupted”. This suggests civilisation as Ralph is allowing each boy to have an equal say and opinion. If they have the conch, no matter who they are or what age they are they will be given the chance to speak and will be listened to by the rest of the boys. The boys have created the island to be a democratic place which shows a civilised side to them as they try to mimic the homes they have just left.
Contrasting with the symbol of the conch is the symbol of the beast which comes to be associated with Jack as by the end of the novel he is almost devil worshipping it. The beast begins as a “snake thing” but by the end of the novel it has become “the Lord of the Flies”. The first quote shows us that the beast is clearly evil. Western society considers snakes to be bad omens because it was a snake that led Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge. However at this stage of the novel the beast is quite insubstantial as it is only a “thing”. As the boys fear of the beast grows so to does the beast itself until it has manifested into the devil – the ultimate and most powerful evil. He has a strong status as a Lord although it is over something pretty disgusting – the flies. The boys belief in the beast leads them to behave more like savages as they act out from their fear and they begin to loose hold of the rules, led by Jack, thus demonstrating the theme of savagery.
One of ways Golding shows conflict between savagery and civilisation is when Jack and some of the other boys are killing the first pig. Jack chants “kill the pig, cut her throat, spill the blood”. This suggests savagery as the boys are being violent and aggressive when killing the pig and they don’t care about it. This is particularly clear through Golding’s word choice. Jack talks about cutting the pig’s throat which makes it sound like a savage action and spilling her blood which reinforces the lack of care and feeling shown towards the pug’s carcass. This shows that the boys are no longer feeling guilty about what they have done thus showing them becoming savages.
We can see the conflict between savagery and civilisation developing further when Piggy’s glasses are broken. We are told “Piggy cried out in terror ‘my specs!” This shows us that the boys savage natures are beginning to overule their more civilised sides. At the start of the book Jack would never have dared touch Piggy, but here he actually snaps and goes for Piggy who he despises. We can tell that Piggy is really scared as Golding chooses the words “cried” and “terror” to describe the scene. Piggy sounds like he is hurting and is genuinely terrified about what Jack might do to him and the loss of his sight. Piggy’s glasses have also come to represent intelligence on the island, with them breaking we see that the pathway to savagery is now completely open for the boys. This is the first true piece of violence between the two factions on the island and it will result in nearly all the boys becoming savages.
A final way in which we see the theme of savagery versus civilisation being demonstrated is when Ralph sticks up for Piggy after he is attacked by Jack. Ralph says “that was a dirty trick”. This shows that Ralph is really angry at Jack for what he said and did to Piggy. He is still attempting to impose himself as leader here as he says this in an aggressive and assertive tone. This suggests there is still some glimmers of civilisation on the island at this point as there is still someone with a sense of moral goodness ready to fight for justice.
In conclusion The Lord of the Flies by William Golding is a novel in which the theme of savagery versus civilisation is shown. Ralph represents civilisation as he wants to enforce rules and let everyone have an equal say. Whereas Jack who represents savagery as he rules over the boys and he is not interested in what they have to say. Through the boys actions Golding shows us that we need rules and to consciously impose them to make sure society functions properly.
Essay/Term paper: Lord of the flies- fear is the source of all evil
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The Lord of the Flies is all about fear. Golding seems to be suggesting that fear, and its complications are the source of all evil. Throughout the novel, the boys show fear in many things. They see and hear assorted things on the island and assume them to be beasts to be dreaded. After much disorder and turmoil on the island, a group of hunters offer a gift to the much sought after and feared beast. A young boy, who is not a part of the group of hunters, encounters their gift to the feared beast and he even "talked" to it, learning the causes of all the evil on the island. The boy attempts to share his discovery in an attempt to end the fear of the beast and to halt the evil on the island. Sadly, he is mistaken for the dreaded beast that apparently inhabits the island. The hunters, in fear, savagely, murder Simon, ending all one"s hopes for the end of evil. By the end of the novel, all the boys, except for Ralph have regressed into a primitive state and have lost all morals, until their rescue, when they finally see how bad they have been. The plot of this novel is based on fear, fear that leads to evil.
In "Beast from the Water,' fear spreads through the group. Ralph, the current leader of the group, tries to convince the boys that their fear of a beast is absurd. Ralph is unsuccessful in deterring the fear of the boys. Several of them tell of monsters they have heard of, like the giant squid, and ponder the fact that beasts and ghosts may be roaming the island. Ralph observes all this and is powerless to control the situation. He calls a vote to decide if the ghosts are real. This is the climax of a series of futile attempts to hinder their fear. The sanity that is left among the boys is disappearing rapidly. The fear of the beasts is only growing more serious. In a group meeting, Simon tries to tell the boys that if there is a beast to fear, it exists within their own hearts. His attempts are futile as the boys simply laugh at him. The meeting soon turns chaotic due to Jack"s defiance of Ralph"s rules and the boys run off, led by Jack. The boy"s minds are still occupied with thoughts of beasts roaming the island. Ralph is still on his mission to end their fear in beasts. Jack, Ralph and Roger climb a hill late at night while searching for beasts. They see do see a "beast.' It is really a dead man who is suspended by his parachute. They boys only see his silhouette and they hear a flapping noise caused by the wind blowing against his equipment. The three boys run in fear. Now, even Ralph is frightened.
Jack"s new group fear the beast so much that they leave a gift for the beast. They took head of a hunted pig, mounted it on a pole and left it standing in the jungle. This head becomes a symbol of terror. Even the boys that put the head there became frightened and ran away because of it. Simon has been sitting alone in the jungle, starting at the fly-covered head of the dead pig as if he was in a trance. The heat becomes intense and the air is humid and close, due to a brewing tropical storm. Suddenly, it seems as if the head â“ the Lord of the Flies â“ is speaking to him. It warns Simon that it is impossible to escape him, the beast, for he is a part of everyone, and he is responsible for all the difficulties that they are facing. The Lord of the Flies is explaining that there is no sense in trying to hunt and kill the beast. "You knew didn"t you? I"m a part of you" Close, close, close! I"m the reason why it"s no go? Why things are they way they are?" The Lord of the Flies answers the question of why the civilization of the boys is a failure. The destructive element is in the boys themselves â“ in each boy. The tittle of the head, "Lord of the Flies," is a literal translation of the word Beelzebub, the name of a devil in the Bible. The Lord of the Flies is a very important symbol in the novel. It is fear unleashed. The pig"s head represents the evil of unreason. The files that buzz over the intestines of the sow are instinctive beings, and they represent the primitive urges that are beginning to dominate the boys. It is the destiny of the boys if they do not eliminate their fear of beasts â“ beasts that are really in themselves.
After Simon"s encounter with the Lord of the Flies, he wanders off, despite his fear and fatigue. He crawls up a hill and immediately discovers the cause of all the terror on the island. He sees the dead pilot entangled in some rocks and flapping in the breeze. Simon staggers off to inform the other boys of what he has learned. Meanwhile, Jack is holding a banquet that everybody is attending, including Ralph and Piggy. Suddenly, a black shape is seen crawling from the jungle, waving and calling to them. It is Simon with his message. "The Beast!" the frenzied boys shout, "Kill the Beast!" In their fear, they failed to recognized that it was Simon. The crazed boys of Jack"s tribe leap upon him, beating and tearing him to death, despite his cries of pain and terror. Simon"s message never becomes revealed. He is the only one who understands the nature of evil on the island. Therefore, he is a threat to the continuance of that evil, and so, that evil must destroy him. Simon"s death leads to the savages turning their violence to Piggy and Ralph. Jack soon steals Piggy"s glasses which foreshadows his inevitable death. Without glasses, Piggy cannot see, therefore loosing all knowledge. Roger tries to kill Piggy by rolling a huge boulder at him, trying to kill him in his futile attempts to get his glasses back. Piggy hears the boulder, but he cannot see where it is coming from. Piggy and the conch are crushed beneath it.
With Piggy dead, and the conch broken, Ralph has no hope of becoming the leader again. Without Ralph as the leader, the boys will remain in primitive disorder and chaos. The hope of Ralph regaining power ends, along with the hope of the hunters overcoming the beast. Ralph, being the only one that has not joined Jack"s tribe, is feared somewhat and is being hunted down. Jack"s tribe has many forms of torture awaiting Ralph on his capture. While the boys are chasing Ralph, he collapsed in exhaustion, but when he looked up he saw a naval officer standing before him. Ralph is finally free from the terror and the evil of the island. The naval officer is shocked that several boys have been killed and that all traces of civilization have disappeared. The boys begin to cry. The naval officer turns his back and contemplates the sight of his cruiser in which he is sent out to do something as primitive as killing and destroying.
Golding seems to be suggesting that fear, and its complications, is the source of all evil. It caused the majority of the boys to commit unspeakable acts of violence and immorality. Ralph"s phrase, "the darkness of man"s heart." vividly describes his feelings of shame and confusion of how the others could be so bad. At the end of the novel, he cries "for the end of innocenceâ¦and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy." Their fears were rooted in beasts throughout the novel. This led the boys offering a gift to this beast, and innocent boys being murdered.
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