Lord of the Flies

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