Lord of the Flies Essay/ Character Comparison Ralph vs Jack

Topics: Civilization, English-language films Pages: 8 (2797 words) Published: January 30, 2008
The novel " Lord of the Flies" focuses on the conflict that exists between two competing impulses that Golding, suggests exist within all humans; these being the instinct to follow the rules, act in a peaceful manner and comply to moral commands compared to the instinct to act violently in order to gain control over others and to satisfy our own greed and personal desires. The conflict exists within the novel in several forms; law and order vs. anarchy, civilization vs. savagery and the basic term of good vs. evil. Golding uses these themes consistently throughout the novel, clearly associating instinctive savagery with evil and the instinct of civilisation with good. The representation of this lies in Ralph and Jack, the two central characters in the novel; Ralph is the protagonist representing order and civilisation while Jack is the antagonist, who represents savagery and a desire for power. Lord of the Flies is an allegorical novel with Golding conveying his ideas symbolically through these characters.

The novel follows the behaviour of the two evacuee English schoolboys along with several others during a fictitious war, after a plane journey relocating them went badly wrong and they found themselves abandoned on an uninhabited island, with no adults. Once they realise a rescue is not imminent, they relish in the lack of rules from a higher power; this leads to clear divisions forming inside the group, namely between those that follow Ralph's mentality towards democracy and those that follow the mentality of Jack and his disregard of order and the rules. It is this group that gradually descend into murderous savages. It is with this that Golding implies that savagery and violence is more primal and natural to human beings and that the instinct of civilisation that Ralph shows is something that occurs mainly when enforced upon a person. Generally, when we are left to our own devices, the situation the boys find themselves in on the island, we will naturally regress to cruelty and violence like Jack. This idea of innate evil is central to the novel – the contrast between the characters of Ralph and Jack, highlighting this.

Chapter Two, "Fire on the mountain" introduces Ralph as a figure of authority;
" We can't have everybody talking at once. We'll have to have ‘Hands Up' like at school" " I'll give the conch to the next person to speak- he can hold it when he's speaking" Ralph tries to introduce or assert order to the island. By linking his rules to an establishment like school, he tries to regain some form of civilisation.

" Jack was on his feet, we'll have rules he cried excitedly. Lots of rules, then when anyone breaks ‘em'-
Jack initially responds to the idea of civilisation but then suddenly thinks of violence to counteract this, by way of a punishment to those who break these rules. This clearly shows a difference in the way the two boys think and so, act.

In Chapter Four, painted faces and long hair, the two separate divisions within the boys is again, made apparent. Jack and his fellow 'hunters' get more involved in their efforts to kill. They paint their faces with camouflage and wear masks. This seems to compel them to hunt.

" liberated from shame and self-consciousness"
"he began to dance and his laughter became a bloodthirsty snarling."

The concealing of their identity leads them to think that by adopting a different identity they can do as they please. This in turn leads to a increase in violent behaviour and the succumbing to primal impulses; without civilisation to stop him, Jack becomes more barbaric. Further contrasts and rivalry in the two characters can be seen later in the chapter; Jack and his hunters abandon the fire in favour of hunting, because of this perhaps selfish action, the smoke signal is lost at the vital time a ship is seen on the horizon. The hunters return triumphant in their success and Jack shows little remorse...
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