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