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Comparison and Contrast of the Main Characters in Lord of the Flies

By becharca Nov 19, 2008 1013 Words
Compare and Contrast Essay

Ralph and Jack are both strong and important characters in Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. Jack on the other hand is a destructive hunter, selfish, and represents all that is evil. Ralph is an astounding and democratic leader; responsible, and stands for all that is good. These two main characters can be compared and contrasted by the views they have as leaders, their personalities, and what they symbolize in the story.

Both Jack and Ralph spend some time being the chief on the island. Although they have different styles of leadership- authoritarian and democratic- there are some similarities in the way they view how the children on the island should be lead. They both, for one, can focus and find importance in specific priorities. Ralph believed that the fire should be tended to in order for rescue and Jack believes hunting is important for physical survival. Although they did not necessarily agree on this priority they both were able to focus and remain faithful to the task without getting tired of it and giving up. Next, they both find necessity in meanings. Even after Jack demeans all the actions of Ralphs leadership (“He's like Piggy. He says things like Piggy. He isn't a proper chief.” Golding 139), he still finds meetings necessary. Although he uses them to exercise his power and Ralph uses meetings to agree what will benefit everyone on the island. A last similar view they have as leaders is that there is indeed a beast. Both boys are subconsciously scared, although they hide the fear and are determined to kill the beast.

Although Ralph and Jack are extremely different there are still some similarities in their personalities. They both want leadership, you could call them both power-hungry. Jack is hungry for the recognition of being leader and Ralph is hungry to be able to do what he thinks is best for the island. Secondly, they both are adventurous. Jack shows how adventurous he is through the whole novel with his like of hunting and killing but Ralph is less eager and wants to give the impression to the kids that he has more important matters to attend to. Yet you can tell how excited he is when hits a pig with his spear after Jack makes him agree to join them in hunting. To finish, they both are opinionated. Many of the arguments between children on the island were between them. During assemblies, there is domination in speaking, by them, because they feel their opinion must be heard.

Before Jack becomes salvage, there are similarities to what they symbolize in the story. Both the boys symbolized leadership as they were the only boys who asked to be in the election to see who would be chief. Another symbol that goes along with leadership, was desire for power. Both boys struggle for power through out the novel because they feel they can do the best job as a leader. A last symbol that could represent both of them is status. Since they are both two of the eldest boys on the island, and both nearly the tallest, the children on the island respect them since they represent adults and an older, role model figure for someone to look up to.

There are many differences between the view as leaders that Ralph and Jack both have. These differences were the reason that they separated into two tribes and ultimately why the book ended tragically. There first difference in view as leaders was that Ralph believed everyone should have an equal say in assemblies ("I'll give the conch to the next person to speak. He can hold it when he's speaking." Golding 36). Jack found his opinions to be more important then anyone else’s. Secondly, their priorities were incredibly diverse. Ralph thinks keeping the fire lit is most important and Jack thinks hunting is. A big argument because of this feeling ruins any chance of friendship between Jack and Ralph. Thirdly, Ralph believes violence does not answer anything while Jack uses violence to solve problems. For example, when he slaps Piggy just because he was embarrassed Ralph was upset with his irrational thinking.

Their personalities could not be anymore different. Ralph is caring. He listens to the boys on the island and does not use physical mistreatment. Jack on the other hand only cares for himself and not for the other boys. Another difference is Jack is irrational and Ralph is rational. Jacks shows irrationality when he sets a fire on the island to smoke out Ralph. By doing this he could potentially have burned down all the fruit trees and killed all the pigs that they needed meat for. Ralph on the other hand thinks over decisions and does not do anything drastic. A last personality difference is Ralph is sympathetic. He feels extreme guilt when Simon dies. Jack showed no remorse and could be called nearly heartless.

Symbols in the story that are very different between the two boys are; Ralph symbolizing civilization. He believes the only way that they will survive on the island is by behaving civilized and not becoming savages, which symbolizes Jack. Ralph also symbolizes rescue. His intentness on keeping the fire lit proves this. This is very different for Jack because he is too busy exploring and hunting. The only reason he bothers keeping the fire lit is because of a promise he made during the beginning of the story. The last symbol’s that are used that differs between the two characters is Ralph being good and Jack being evil. Through the story you can determine that Jack is the antagonist and Ralph is the protagonist. This gives you the sense of good and evil and makes you form either a negative or positive opinion on either of the boys.

There are a lot of similarities and differences between Jack and Ralph. The views they have as leaders, their personalities and what they symbolize is all proof to these similarities and differences.

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