English 12 Honors
March 10, 2015
A Harmful Dichotomy: The Negative Ways Society’s Traditional Male Gender Roles Come to
Light Contrasted with
Lord of the Flies
Since the beginning of time humans have been beings favoring civilization. Rules. Order.
Restrictions on innate human tendencies keep people in order, which is considerably more manageable than seven billion anthropomorphized Ids1 running amok across the planet. But when do our society’s restraints harm it’s members? According to a recent study done by Dr.
Maria do Mar Pereira of Warnick University of adolescents in Lisbon, gender roles can cause students to act in ways in line with their ideal of their assigned gender that actually harm their health (1). One place we can see their ugly heads be reared is in the novel
Lord of the Flies written by William Goulding. Goulding’s analysis of the psychosis of the young boys shows the harmful effects of society’s traditional construct of masculinity through the boy’s violence towards each other in primal situations and their assumption of traditional leadership roles through shows of power.
So often in our culture boys are told they need to be aggressive, strong, brute beings with little to none outward emotional expression. The phrase “boys don’t cry” is heavily ingrained into young children's’ minds early on. So where do all these repressed emotions go? They’re repressed and repressed until they come out in negative channelings of unresolved conflicts
“According to Sigmund Freud
... the id is the personality component made up of unconscious psychic energy that works to satisfy basic urges, needs, and desires.” About.com Pyschology
(Kindlon 218). This is why many boys in today’s society are at a higher risk for drug and alcohol abuse and struggle with so many issues of internalized conflicts which can lead to depression or even suicide (Kindlon 142176). Piggy has multiple instances of internal anxiety and repression of his emotions due to the other, more assertive boys in the group reading his weakness as something to be easily picked upon.
The argument can also be made that from the boys witnessing violent acts such as the surrounding war going on and the unsettling news that a young child most likely was caught in the overactive fire that raged out of control their first night after neglecting to monitor the flames. The boy with the mulberry birthmark had wandered into the forest while left unattended.
The boys try to rationalize this as a mistake as they are struck with awe, “Startled, Ralph realized that the boys were falling still and silent, feeling the beginnings of awe at the power set free below them. The knowledge and awe made him savage,”
(Golding 44). The fire motif throughout the novel is frequently neglected and allowed to burn free which can be taken as a metaphor for the young boys’ behavior. The flame started off reasonably controlled, but when the boys, specifically the hunters, focus on playing more than maintaining the fire, the whole forest is engulfed, lives are lost, and they miss a passing ship when their signal fire is not burning. Witnessing these traumatic events parallels to what exposure to violent and graphic video games can do to a young child’s mind. Ninety percent of children play videogames and approximately ninety percent of those video games contain some sort of violent or graphic content (Park 1).
A study in Singapore of 3,034 boys and girls in third, fourth, seventh, and eighth grade by Craig Anderson of Iowa State University found that those who played more violent video games were more likely to engage in violent activities such as striking another
classmate who had said something disagreeable with them. Violent video games have also been shown through brain scans to alter regions of the brain connected to impulse control, emotion, and attention that, if