Different Changes In Different Characters Of Lord Of The Flies


In his first novel, William Golding used a group of boys stranded
on a tropical island to illustrate the malicious nature of
mankind. Lord of the Flies dealt with changes that the boys
underwent as they gradually adapted to the isolated freedom from
society. Three main characters depicted different effects on
certain individuals under those circumstances. Jack Merridew
began as the arrogant and self-righteous leader of a choir. The
freedom of the island allowed him to further develop the darker
side of his personality as the Chief of a savage tribe. Ralph
started as a self-assured boy whose confidence in himself came
from the acceptance of his peers. He had a fair nature as he was
willing to listen to Piggy. He became increasingly dependent on
Piggy's wisdom and became lost in the confusion around him.
Towards the end of the story his rejection from their society of
savage boys forced him to fend for himself. Piggy was an educated
boy who had grown up as an outcast. Due to his academic
childhood, he was more mature than the others and retained his
civilized behaviour. But his experiences on the island gave him a
more realistic understanding of the cruelty possessed by some
people. The ordeals of the three boys on the island made them
more aware of the evil inside themselves and in some cases, made
the false politeness that had clothed them dissipate. However,
the changes experienced by one boy differed from those endured by
another. This is attributable to the physical and mental
dissimilarities between them.

Jack was first described with an ugly sense of cruelty that made
him naturally unlikeable. As leader of the choir and one of the
tallest boys on the island, Jack's physical height and authority
matched his arrogant personality. His desire to be Chief was
clearly evident in his first appearance. When the idea of having
a Chief was mentioned Jack spoke out immediately. "I ought to be
chief," said Jack with simple arrogance, "because I'm chapter
chorister and head boy." _ He led his choir by administering much
discipline resulting in forced obedience from the cloaked boys.
His ill-nature was well expressed through his impoliteness of
saying, "Shut up, Fatty." at Piggy. (p. 23) However, despite his
unpleasant personality, his lack of courage and his conscience
prevented him from killing the first pig they encountered. "They
knew very well why he hadn't: because of the enormity of the knife
descending and cutting into living flesh; because of the
unbearable blood." (p. 34) Even at the meetings, Jack was able to
contain himself under the leadership of Ralph. He had even
suggested the implementation of rules to regulate themselves.
This was a Jack who was proud to be British, and who was shaped
and still bound by the laws of a civilized society. The freedom
offered to him by the island allowed Jack to express the darker
sides of his personality that he hid from the ideals of his past
environment. Without adults as a superior and responsible
authority, he began to lose his fear of being punished for
improper actions and behaviours. This freedom coupled with his
malicious and arrogant personality made it possible for him to
quickly degenerate into a savage. He put on paint, first to
camouflage himself from the pigs. But he discovered that the
paint allowed him to hide the forbidden thoughts in his mind that
his facial expressions would otherwise betray. "The mask was a
thing on its own behind which Jack hid, liberated from shame and
self-consciousness." (p. 69) Through hunting, Jack lost his fear
of blood and of killing living animals. He reached a point where
he actually enjoyed the sensation of hunting a prey afraid of his
spear and knife. His natural desire for blood and violence was
brought out by his hunting of pigs. As Ralph became lost in his
own confusion, Jack began to assert himself as chief. The boys
realizing that Jack was a stronger and more self-assured leader
gave in easily to the freedom of Jack's savagery. Placed in a
position of power and with his followers sharing his crazed hunger
for violence, Jack gained encouragement to commit the vile acts of
thievery and murder. Freed from the conditions of a regulated
society, Jack gradually became more violent and the rules and
proper behaviour by which he was brought up were forgotten. The
freedom given to him unveiled his true self under the clothing
worn by civilized people to hide his darker characteristics.

Ralph was introduced as a fair and likeable boy whose self-assured
mad him feel secure even on the island without any adults. His
interaction with