Thomas Hobbes was one of the most controversial philosophers of all time. He argued that the, “Life of man [is] solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” (Hobbes 77). Clearly he didn’t think that humanity was a good group of beings. In the Lord of the Flies by William Golding, one character, Jack Merridew, displays many characteristics of Hobbes’ philosophy on man. Time after time, Golding subtly refers to Hobbes’ philosophy through Jack and his reactions with other characters in the book.
After Golding introduces the boys, they want to elect a chief, and already, Golding is using Hobbes’ anthropology. In Hobbes’ Leviathan, he states, “And therefore, if any two men desire the same thing which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy, they become enemies” (Hobbes 76). The two main contenders for the chief position are Ralph and Jack. Jack fervently believes that he should be chief, and he says, “’I ought to be chief,’ said Jack with simple arrogance, ’because I’m chapter chorister and head boy. I can sing C sharp’” (Golding 15). Fortunately, Ralph is elected chief, and Jack is disappointed. This simple election creates the dispute between the two boys for the whole book. Ralph and Jack cannot share the position, and both cannot enjoy it, so Jack begins to have an aversion to Ralph. Hobbes’ philosophy basically predicted that this would occur. They both wanted a thing, leadership, and one got it, making them both enemies. This enmity that Jack has eventually pushes him to the point of wanting to kill Ralph in order to lead the island without opposition. This craving for murder also demonstrates another philosophical point by Hobbes.
Far later in the book, Jack’s relations with Ralph once again clearly display one of Hobbes’ points. In Leviathan, Hobbes writes, “In all times kings and persons of sovereign authority, because of their independency, are… in the state and posture of gladiators, having their weapons pointing and their eyes fixed on one another” (76)....
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