The Proof of Savagery When we first open our eyes to this vast world, we are simultaneously introduced to a civilized society. We are taught in school to do the right things and avoid wrong behavior: respect and consideration is crucial, harassment and bullying is unacceptable. But, what if we are placed on a deserted island, where there are no pre-established rules or norms for us to follow and stick to? Does our human nature reveal itself then?
Do we start to believe in survival of the fittest, thus lose all sense of reason and pity? Do we forget all the rules of society civilization? In Lord of the Flies by William Golding, a group of boys are forced to learn to live harmoniously after a plane crash, which lands them in a foreign island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. In the process, some manage to remain rational and in control, as their leader Ralph, whereas others gradually transform into savages and intimidators, as the aggressive hunter, Jack.
Golding introduces the stark contrast between civilization and savagery and how human nature is exposed at critical moments through many symbols that echoes throughout the book. The interactions between the older and younger boys, the ‘beastie’ and death are three of the many symbolisms that show the different actions and thoughts of people placed in a difficult, or even impossible situation. The saying “Survival for the fittest” is often seen in the wild, where stronger animals hunt down the weaker ones.
A civilized society educates people not to scornfully despise or put down others. The group of boys on the island consists of both older and younger kids. The interactions between them show how human nature can retain its purity and goodness, as well as reveal its selfish and merciless side, exemplifying the conflict between civilization and savagery. Jack, Ralph and Piggy were three of the older boys. Jack, compelling and authoritative, often ignores the littluns and doesn’t really care about their safety and needs.
When the older boys are out hunting for the beast, Ralph is concerned about who would take care of the little ones. Jack cries ‘Sucks to the littluns! ’ (101), though he knew that there are possible dangers on the island, as previously a littlun with the paint on his face had vanished after mentioning about a ferocious snake. Piggy, despite his older age than the littluns, is laughed at and made fun of by everyone, including the tinier kids. Jack demonstrates the uncaring, self-centered aspect of human nature, which leads him to radually savagery; while Ralph and Piggy both show the considerate and amiable nature of us. However, Piggy also reveals that being overly unopinionated and softhearted can result in being bullied and manipulated. As the plot progresses, we observe how Jack becomes increasingly uncompassionate and callous, neglect the littluns or merely use them to exhibit his power and authority. When he separated from Ralph’s group and lead the ignorant littluns to their own site, he abused Wilfred to show off his capability. ‘He got angry and made us tie Wilfred up. (159) Roger recalled. After the commotion and showdown, ‘The newly beaten and untied Wilfred was snif? ng noisily in the background,’ (160) haven’t been punished and harmed by no specific reason. Ralph is extremely nice and accepting to the littluns from start to finish, but at the end of the novel, the littluns influenced by Jack’s desire for blood and murder, are driven to hunt Ralph down as if he was an animal. Ralph’s interaction with the little kids so the civilized side of human nature, with cannot sustain very long with the simultaneous presence of savagery.
Piggy, unfortunately, met his end because of the Jack and his affected and corrupted ‘minion’ littluns. The interactions between the older and younger boys prove that human nature become crystal clear in a desperate situation, but evil and savagery usually unfortunately takes over and attacks the civilized. Fear is a small and inevitable part inside each animal being. On the island, the boys worry and ponder over the ‘beastie’, making guesses about what it is, what it looks, what it wants etc.
The beastie in the novel, does not exist at all, its existence only mistaken by the boys having seen the dead pilot crashing down; in fact, it symbolizes the fear within boys, and how their anxiety, doubt and panic are strengthened over time and reflect their transforming personalities. In the beginning, the boys really lead a carefree life on the island. In their innocent perpectives, the island was a paradise without the supervision of strict adults. However, as Jack and certain boys started to develop an obsession in hunting, their behavior brings the ‘beast’ into existence.
This figment of their imagination stands for the primal animal instinct of savagery. As the boys become increasingly savage, their belief beast grows stronger and more persuasive. Jack stated “When you’re hunting, when you’re on your own, you catch yourself feeling as if you’re not hunting, but—being hunted, as if something’s behind you all the time in the jungle. ” (53) Their assumption in the existence of the beast represent the breakdown of the civilized society and development of savagery.
Towards the end of the novel, not only did the boys offer sacrifices to the beast so it wouldn’t bother them, they even brutally killed Simon having mistook him for the vicious creature they had been forever dreading. Savagery had blinded them completely, hindering their ability to tell whether the beast was real. Death may seem like one of life natural processes, that everyone will experience death. However, in throughout this novel, the seemingly simple and uncomplicated word death symbolizes the uncontrollable urge and yearning to but through flesh and spill blood.
Death is important in the book because the ends of different characters truly uncover how savage and insane the boys had become. In the beginning, when Ralph, Jack and Roger first encountered a piglet, Jack pulled out his knife in preparation to kill it. But he couldn’t perform the deed, and all three “knew very well why he hadn’t: because of the enormity of the knife descending and cutting into living ? esh; because of the unbearable blood. ” (31) At that point of time still, blood seems to be such a taboo subject that is unendurable and disgusting.
However, at least for Jack, the perception of this red fluid, and even death, totally changed after his first successful kill. From then on, Jack and the other boys have lost their sanity, from killing animals to their own kind, boys they had lived with for the past weeks. First, there was the unintentional death of Simon; then, the deliberate murder of Piggy, and finally, the hunt for Ralph, before which the boys consciously prepared for; Roger even “sharpened a stick at both ends. ” (190) Death is no longer a scary or distant thing for these ferocious boys.
In contrast and in fact, since they had been savagely corrupted, they embraced the blood and flesh that came along with death. This symbol shows how uncivilized most of the boys had become over the course of their stay on the island. In conclusion, the conditions of the environment on the island in Lord of the Flies expose the true human natures of different characters in the novel. Some are naturally unforgiving and menacing, while others are rational and pleasant, even under harsh or unimaginable situations.
The interactions between the older and younger boys, the “beastie” and death are three symbols that showed the naked distinction between civilization and savagery. Regrettably, when people are not restrained or limited by already created rules, they tend to turn to cruelty, savagery, and barbarism. These vices spread more easily than do the virtues of remaining civilized, and this is why society crumbles and collapses without respected and obeyed laws which everyone is willing to live by in harmony and accord.
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