Golding’s Themes of Civilization and Order vs. Savagery and Chaos? – Literature Essay
Lord Of The Flies is a book about the evil and corrupted nature of the human kind. It was written by William Golding, who manifests this natural darkness
through the great contrast between some of the characters in the book. He compares these characters, each one symbolizing an idea in the real world. The island in which the boys get stranded is a microcosm of the world the way it is to him. In his mind, as revealed by the book, the world will become (or already is) complete chaos and wildness, and even the most innocent-looking child can perform all sorts of diabolic deeds imaginable, just like Jack and Roger (in the book).
Ralph, the main character in the book (or at least one of them), is the goody-goody boy in the book. He is the one who tries to get the whole thing organised when they first arrive at the island. This shows that he is a well organised person, and he knows that the island isn’t all fun, and that they have to keep themselves alive without any help: “we shall have to look after ourselves”. He is aware of their need for independence, and he tries to show that to the others, but his “friend” Jack ends up too thirsty for power, and that is when it all starts going wrong. They get split up into “tribes” and start having greater conflicts. Ralph just wants peace, but ends up being hunted, almost to death. Golding must have used this specific happening to symbolise good people in the real world trying to run away from a much greater number of evil people who are all around them. In the end, though, there is someone to save them all.
Piggy, another main character, is one of the unfortunate people who doesn’t end up surviving in the island, due to the savagery of Roger, a boy in Jack’s tribe. Piggy is a boy from a bit of a poor family, but even though he isn’t very well educated, he is the only one who faces the dreadful truth form the very beginning of the story; they are lost, and in his words, “nobody knows where we are” (he says this at the start of the book). He is the one who has the simplest and most effective ideas, but nobody will listen, because of his low reputation created by “that Jack Merridew” and his “bunch of savages”. Piggy becomes a very valuable person in a way, because he is the only person in the island who wears glasses, and the use of the glasses is the only way to light a fire to save them. Unfortunately, Piggy continues to be disrespected, even though a teeny bit less than before. He ends up being murdered by one of the boys, being one of Golding’s strongest attempts to show the “capacity” of humans. Piggy was on his way with Ralph to try and claim his glasses back form Jack, who had stolen them, and he just happens to profoundly irritate Jack and Roger.
Jack stands for all the people in the world who contain great viciousness within. He is, at first, the leader of a group of choir boys, which includes Simon, a very sensitive character who also dies, because Jack’s tribe mistake him for the beast in the middle of the night, when he comes out of the forest. Back to Jack, he becomes the leader of a tribe. He creates this tribe because when the group of boys voted for a chief, he lost, and Ralph won. As he was used to being the leader in the past, he doesn’t really accept this, so he finds a way to satisfy himself – he creates his own tribe separately and be the “Chief”. He eventually loses his identity and is only called by this new name. He becomes a wild but natural hunter, and is compared to an animal through Golding’s overuse, but never repetitive, of metaphors and imagery:
“Jack crouched with his face a few inches from this clue […]. His sandy hair, considerably longer than it had been when they dropped in, was lighter now; and his bare back was a mass of dark freckles and peeling sunburn […] and except for a pair of tattered shorts held up by his knife-belt he was naked.”
The island made him become that, and there’s no going back, in reality.
There are a few objects in the story which symbolise very important things. One of these objects is Piggy’s glasses. They symbolise the only connection that the boys in the island have with the outer world’s technology. They also symbolise the only link to the outer world because they can be used to get rescued. The glasses have to be used to make a fire, and a signal fire means salvation. Fire also symbolises destruction, as seen at the beginning and end of the book, when the fire eats its way through the forest, devouring anything in its way. It is a threat to anyone or anything. The conch which Ralph and Piggy find at the start of the book symbolises civilization in the island, and when it gets broken, along with Piggy’s bones, it symbolises the “breaking” of the civilization too. Jack then decides to become what the island made him definitely, and he stays at Castle Rock, at the “unfriendly” side of the island, while Ralph and Piggy stay at the beach, the “friendly” side of the island. This is the concrete breaking up of these different groups.
Golding discretely develops the theme of order and civilization VS. savagery and chaos in LOTF by many different ways, all of them being effective, but the main one being the contrast between characters (their personalities, opinions, thoughts, ideas). This adds greatly to the level of interest of the book and its true message/meaning.