Civilization vs. Savagery: An Exploration of Counterpoint in Lord of the Flies
Counterpoint is a common literary device used by many authors in a variety of forms of literature. It gives the work contrast and interest as well as a diverse insight into two completely different ideas or opposites. The main counterpoint presented in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies would be the idea of civilization vs. savagery. This motif is presented throughout the novel. The idea that humans are constantly battling their feral instincts and civilized ideals is a theme that is deeply and extensively explored. Golding acquaints civilization with good, and savagery with evil. He uses symbolic characters and objects in order to convey his themes and ideas. He represents the opposing forces of civilization and savagery with the two main characters: Ralph, the protagonist, who represents order and leadership; and Jack, the antagonist, who represents savagery and the desire for power. Among these characters there are many others who react to the conflict in different ways. The conflict between these opposites is the driving force of the novel.
When it comes down to the idea of civilization, Golding implies that civilization is something forced upon humans by society, and not something one is instinctively drawn to. Civilization is merely just a mask of ones instincts. Ralph is the perfect example of the desire for civilization among the boys of the island. He expresses this quality when he states, “We've got to have rules and obey them. After all, we're not savages. We're English, and the English are best at everything” (Golding 2.192). The boys still desire their previous, ordered life they left back in England. Ralph is the symbol of supressing one’s natural savage instincts, he feels the thrill and exhilaration of barbarity but manages to subdue these spirits. Piggy is also an example of the human need for civilization. Not once in the novel does he display savage feelings or...
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