Lord Of The Flies Characters 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 disappear. However, the changes experienced by one boy differed from those endured by another. This is attributable to the physical and mental differences between them.
Jack was first described with having an air 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 in 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 were repressed by 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 behaviour. This freedom along with his malicious and arrogant personality made it possible for him to quickly degenerate into a savage.
He put on paint, first to camouflage himself from the pigs. But he discovered that the paint allowed him to hide the forbidden thoughts in his mind that his facial expressions would otherwise show: The mask was a thing on its own behind which Jack hid, liberated from shame and self-consciousness (p. 69). Through hunting, Jack lost his fear of blood and of killing living animals. He reached a point where he actually enjoyed the sensation of hunting a prey afraid of his spear and knife.
His natural desire for blood and violence was brought out by his hunting of pigs. As Ralph became lost in his own confusion, Jack began to assert himself as chief. The boys realizing that Jack was a stronger and more self-assured leader gave in easily to the freedom of Jack’s savagery. Placed in a position of power and with his followers sharing his crazed hunger for violence, Jack gained encouragement to commit the vile acts of thievery and murder. Freed from the conditions of a regulated society, Jack gradually became more violent and the rules and proper behaviour by which he was brought up were forgotten.
The freedom given to him unveiled his true self under the clothing worn by civilized people to hide his darker characteristics. Ralph was introduced as a fair and likeable boy whose self-assured manner made him feel secure even on the island without any adults. His interaction with Piggy demonstrated his pleasant nature as he did not call him names with hateful intent as Jack had. His good physique allowed him to be well accepted among his peers, and this gave him enough confidence to speak out readily in public. His handsome features and the conch as a symbol of power and order made him stand out from the crowd of boys and led to his being proclaimed Chief: There was a stillness about Ralph as he sat that marked him out: there was his size, and attractive appearance; and most obscurely, yet most powerful, there was the conch (p.
24). From the quick decisions he made as Chief near the beginning of the novel, it could be seen that Ralph was well-organized. But even so, Ralph began repeatedly to long for and daydream of his civilized and regular past. Gradually, Ralph became confused and began to lose clarity in his thoughts and speeches: Ralph was puzzled by the shutter that flickered in his brain. There was something he wanted to say; then the shutter had come down.
(p. 156) He started to feel lost in their new environment as the boys, with the exception of Piggy, began to change and adapt to their freedom. As he did not lose his sense of responsibility, his viewpoints and priorities began to differ from those of the savages. He was more influenced by Piggy than by Jack, who in a way could be viewed as a source of evil. Even though the significance of the fire as a rescue signal was slowly dismissed, Ralph continued to stress the importance of the fire at the mountaintop.
He also tried to reestablish the organization that had helped to keep the island clean and free of potential fire hazards. This difference made most of the boys less convinced of the integrity of Ralph. As his supporters became fewer and Jack’s insistence on being Chief grew, his strength as a leader diminished. But even though Ralph had retained much of his civilized personality, he …