Lord of the Flies Essays

Submitted By kellyras
Words: 1041
Pages: 5

Lord of the Flies: Civilization vs. Savagery Imagine being on an island; no parental figure, no rules, and no stress. Every human has a primal instinct lying within them. In a state where one needs to survive, what is one truly capable of? Can one remain civilized or will the temptation of their dark subconscious take over? In the story line of Lord of the Flies, William Golding explores the theme of civilization versus savagery trough a group of boys who have been learning to survive on a deserted island with no present adults. We as humans have the capability to be shaped by nurture; the environment and past experiences. Throughout the novel, William Golding portrays the message that when left without the bounds of civilization, individuals tend to show their true colors, acting only for their personal gain. There are many factors that determine how people behave in their daily lives. From the day we are born we are governed by a set of laws that influence the way we live. As children we are taught how to behave by parents and guardians, and as humans the structures of society keep people civilized with laws and order; Ralph represents reason and leadership while Jack represents savagery and the hunger for power. Lastly the conch represents authority and order. Ralph was elected chief due to his natural ability to be a leader as he established their society. He runs a democracy where everyone votes on issues and he is willing to take everyone’s opinion into consideration. Ralph believes that as long as they stay civilized they can survive, live in agreement, and eventually be rescued; “We’ve got to have rules and obey them,” (Golding, 42). Ralph pushes the idea about having rules on the island. Jack agrees with him at first, although his jealousy for Ralph’s power motivates him to constantly undermine and disobey Ralph and his requests. This begins Jacks decline into true savagery. As the boys stay on the island, one of Ralph’s orders is to find food on the island to feed everyone, “His mind was crowded with memories; memories of the knowledge that had come to them when they closed in on the struggling pig, knowledge that they had outwitted a living thing, imposed their will upon it, taken away its life like a long satisfying drink” (Golding -). This explores Jack’s mental state after killing his first pig, a milestone in the boys’ decline into savage behavior. Jack triumphs in the kill and is unable to think about anything else because his mind is “crowded with memories” of the hunt. Jack’s excitement stems not from pride at having found food to help the group but from having outsmarted another creature. Earlier in the novel Jack claims that hunting is important to provide nourishment for the group. Now, it becomes clear that Jack’s obsession with hunting is due to the satisfaction it provides his primal instincts and has nothing to do with contributing to the group. When set into an environment where your natural instinct is to survive, your surroundings can influence the way you behave. Lord of the Flies shows how children would act if placed in an environment without any rules or guidance. It conveys that everyone needs guidance and help in their lives. Without them society would crumble and would end up like the disaster in the novel. “Nurture involves one’s environmental surroundings and the influence it makes on them” (McLeod). This refers back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, starting with physical needs such as food and water, moving your way up to safety, belongingness, esteem, cognitive, aesthetic and self-fulfillment. You cannot move up the pyramid until each level is fulfilled (Sproule 71). Ralph and Piggy attempt to follow the hierarchy of needs, but are pushed down as their surroundings start to take over. As the boys go to kill a pig, they celebrated by chanting "Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!" (Golding 152), the children are clearly blood thirsty at this point in the novel. They got