Mercurial Essays

Free Essays & Assignment Examples

Different Changes In Different Characters Of 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 them.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

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. This freedom coupled 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 betray. “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
mad 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
pointed him out from the crowd of boys and proclaimed him 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 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 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 past social conditioning, he too was not
spared from the evil released by the freedom from rules and
adults. During the play-fight after their unsuccessful hunt in
the course of their search for the beast, Ralph for the first
time, had an opportunity to join the hunters and share their
desire for violence. “Ralph too was fighting to get near, to get
a handful of that brown, vulnerable flesh. The desire to squeeze
and hurt was over-mastering.” (p. 126) Without rules to limit
them, they were free to make their game as real as they wanted.

Ralph did not understand the hatred Jack had for him, nor did he
fully comprehend why their small and simple society deteriorated.

This confusion removed his self-confidence and made him more
dependent on Piggy’s judgement, until Piggy began prompting him on
what needed to be said and done. Towards the end of the novel,
Ralph was forced into independence when he lost all his followers
to Jack’s savagery, and when Piggy and the conch were smashed by
Roger’s boulder. He was forced to determine how to avoid Jack’s
savage hunters alone. Ralph’s more responsible behaviour set him
apart from the other savage boys and made it difficult for him to
accept and realize the changes they were undergoing. Becoming
lost in his exposure to their inherent evil, Ralph’s confusion
brought about the deterioration of his initial self-assurance and
ordered temperament, allowing him to experience brief outbursts of
his beastly self.

Piggy was an educated boy rejected by the kids of his age group on
account of his being overweight. It was his academic background
and his isolation from the savage boys that had allowed him to
remain mostly unchanged from his primitive experiences on the
island. His unattractive attributes segregated him from the other
boys on the island. He was not welcomed on their first
exploratory trip of the island. “We don’t want you,” Jack had
said to Piggy. (p. 26) Piggy was like an observer learning from
the actions of others. His status in their society allowed him to
look at the boys from an outsider’s perspective. He could learn
of the hatred being brought out of the boys without having to
experience the thirst for blood that Ralph was exposed to.

Although he was easily intimidated by the other boys, especially
by Jack, he did not lack the self-confidence to protest or speak
out against the indignities from the boys as the shy former
choirboy Simon did. This self-confidence differed from that of
Ralph’s as it did not come from his acceptance by their peers nor
did it come from the authority and power Jack had grown accustomed
to. It came from the pride in having accumulated the wisdom that
was obviously greater than that of most of the other kids at his
age. Piggy not only knew what the rules were, as all the other
boys did, but he also had the patience to at least wonder why the
rules existed. This intuition made Piggy not only more aware of
why the rules were imposed, thereby ensuring that he would abide
by them even when they were not enforced. When the boys flocked
to the mountaintop to build their fire, Piggy shouted after them,
“Acting like a crowd of kids!” (p. 42) Piggy was a very liable
person who could look ahead and plan carefully of the future. He
shouted at the boys’ immature recklessness, “The first thing we
ought to have made was shelters down there by the beach… Then
when you get here you build a bonfire that isn’t no use. Now you
been and set the whole island on fire.” (p.. 50) Like Ralph, his
sense of responsibility set him apart from the other boys. The
author used the image of long hair to illustrate Piggy’s
sustenance of his civilized behaviour. “He was the only boy on
the island whose hair never seemed to grow.” (p. 70) The author’s
description of his baldness also presented an image of old age and
made Piggy seem to lack the strength of youth. The increasing
injustice Piggy endured towards the end of the novel was far
greater than any that he had encountered previously. In his fit
of anger, Piggy cried out, “I don’t ask for my glasses back, not
as a favour. I don’t ask you to be a sport, I’ll say, not because
you’re strong, but because what’s right’s right.” (p. 189) This
new standard of harshness brought tears out of him as the
suffering became intolerable. For a brief moment, Piggy’s anger
at the unfairness and his helplessness robbed him of his usual
logical reasoning, which returned when he was confronted with his
fear of the savages. Piggy was an intelligent boy with a good
understanding of their situation on the island. He was able to
think clearly and plan ahead with caution so that even in the
freedom of their unregulated world, his wisdom and his isolation
from the savage boys kept him from giving into the evil that had
so easily consumed Jack and his followers. The resulting cruelty
Jack inflicted upon him taught Piggy how much more pain there was
in the world.

Lord of the flies used changes experienced by boys on an
uninhabited island to show the evil nature of man. By using
different characters the author was able to portray various types
of people found in our society. Their true selves were revealed
in the freedom from the laws and punishment of a world with
adults. Under the power and regulations of their former society,
Jack’s inner evil was suppressed. But when the rules no longer
existed, he was free to do what malice he desired. Ralph had
grown so used to the regularity of a civilized world, that the
changes they underwent were difficult for him to comprehend. He
became confused and less capable of thinking clearly and
independently. Although he too had experienced the urge for
violence that had driven Jack and the hunters to momentary peaks
of madness, his more sensitive personality and his sense of
obligation saved him from complete savagery. These two traits
also helped to keep Piggy from becoming primitive in behaviour.

He was made an outcast by his undesirable physique and his
superior intelligence. This isolation and wisdom also helped
Piggy to retain his civilized behaviour. As well, he was made
painfully more aware of the great amount of injustice in the
world. From these three characters, it could be seen that under
the same circumstances, different individuals can develop in
different ways depending on the factors within themselves and how
they interacted with each other. Their personalities and what
they knew can determine how they would interpret and adapt to a
new environment such as the tropical island. Not everyone has so
much malevolence hidden inside themselves as to become complete
savages when released from the boundaries of our society. Some
people will, because of the ways they were conditioned, remember
and abide by the rules they had depended on for social
organization and security.


I'm Belinda!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out