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Lord of the Flies

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Essay title: Lord of the Flies

In his first novel, William Golding used a group of boys

stranded on a tropical island to illustrate the malicious nature of

mankind. Lord of the Flies dealt with changes that the boys underwent

as they gradually adapted to the isolated freedom from society. Three

main characters depicted different effects on certain individuals

under those circumstances. Jack Merridew began as the arrogant and

self-righteous leader of a choir. The freedom of the island allowed

him to further develop the darker side of his personality as the Chief

of a savage tribe. Ralph started as a self-assured boy whose

confidence in himself came from the acceptance of his peers. He had a

fair nature as he was willing to listen to Piggy. He became

increasingly dependent on Piggy's wisdom and became lost in the

confusion around him. Towards the end of the story his rejection from

their society of savage boys forced him to fend for himself. Piggy

was an educated boy who had grown up as an outcast. Due to his

academic childhood, he was more mature than the others and retained

his civilized behaviour. But his experiences on the island gave him a

more realistic understanding of the cruelty possessed by some people.

The ordeals of the three boys on the island made them more aware of

the evil inside themselves and in some cases, made the false

politeness that had clothed them dissipate. However, the changes

experienced by one boy differed from those endured by another. This

is attributable to the physical and mental dissimilarities between


Jack was first described with an ugly sense of cruelty that

made him naturally unlikeable. As leader of the choir and one of the

tallest boys on the island, Jack's physical height and authority

matched his arrogant personality. His desire to be Chief was clearly

evident in his first appearance. When the idea of having a Chief was

mentioned Jack spoke out immediately. "I ought to be chief," said

Jack with simple arrogance, "because I'm chapter chorister and head

boy."  He led his choir by administering much discipline resulting

in forced obedience from the cloaked boys. His ill-nature was well

expressed through his impoliteness of saying, "Shut up, Fatty." at

Piggy. (p. 23) However, despite his unpleasant personality, his lack

of courage and his conscience prevented him from killing the first pig

they encountered. "They knew very well why he hadn't: because of the

enormity of the knife descending and cutting into living flesh;

because of the unbearable blood." (p. 34) Even at the meetings, Jack

was able to contain himself under the leadership of Ralph. He had

even suggested the implementation of rules to regulate themselves.

This was a Jack who was proud to be British, and who was shaped and

still bound by the laws of a civilized society. The freedom offered

to him by the island allowed Jack to express the darker sides of his

personality that he hid from the ideals of his past environment.

Without adults as a superior and responsible authority, he began to

lose his fear of being punished for improper actions and behaviours.


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