“Lord of Flies” by William Golding Essay
The author uses a rational narrator. It can be seen when Simon, Ralph, and Jack reach the top of the mountain and they are filled with excitement.
The narrator expresses that “the cause of their pleasure was not obvious” (Golding 35). They are happy without a real reason. Levinson argues that it is necessary to use aesthetics so that the other domains such as “ethical, practical, or intellectual can be sustained” (3). There is a pleasure that moves through the reader as he/she inspects the stylistic devices used.
The boys met after Ralph had blown the conch (Golding 24). The reader will wonder that all the boys respond in the same manner to the sound of the blown shell. They expect a gathering. There must be a ship. Jack the leader of the choir asks, “Isn’t there a ship, then?” (Golding 25). The author shows response and expectation. According to Jack, if there is no ship, the blowing of the shell was useless.
The boys decide to select a leader and make a few rules (Golding 28). The author tries to teach the reader how to “arrange society or how to behave in society” (Philosophy Notes 2). Ralph, the boy who blew the conch, uplifts his hand to speak. Using his reasoning, he says “it seems to me we ought to have a chief to decide things” (Golding 28). The author shows that leadership is necessary in society. Without leadership and rules, there is disorder and unresolved disputes.
The author tries to show the reader “how to behave in society” (Philosophy Notes 2). Ralph names the fat boy ‘Piggy’, Piggy follows him with complaints. Ralph was faced with the options of giving more insults or apologizing (Golding 32). He looked at Piggy’s face and saw that he had offended him. He chose to apologize to calm him down. The character of Ralph in this scene shows that a leader must show a sense of responsibility. He needs to unite people.
In a situation to avoid (Philosophy Notes 2), the reader is taken through the character of Piggy. Piggy tells Ralph his nickname then he begs him not to tell the others (Golding 12). It does not prevent Ralph from announcing to the whole group that the fat boy’s name is ‘Piggy’. Piggy could have avoided the situation by telling Ralph his real name rather than his nickname. Ralph would not have known about ‘Piggy’. In that case, he would remain with the power to determine if they should know his nickname.
There is use of aesthetics in the literature (Philosophy Notes 2). Aesthetics tends to give an impression about social values and issues. A reader may find the use of broken language on Piggy’s speech artistic. It indicates that he comes from a different region from all the rest. Aesthetics are also used in cases an object seems very valuable to the group.
In the expression of the fire, the author explains that “whole limbs yielded passionately to the yellow flames that poured upwards and shook a great beard of flame” (Golding 56). There is the personification of the flame. The author uses aesthetics to drive emotions out of the reader about the value of fire to the boys.
Ralph, Jack and Simon go on an exploration to confirm that the place is an island. There is “projection of the perceiver’s response into an image” (Philosophy notes 2). The three boys try to find reason by asking “What made this track?” (Golding 34). They think of animals but not people. The substitution of concern between the reader and the characters ends in a rewarding experience (Philosophy Notes 2). The boys discover a shortcut to the platform at the beach, and pigs to substitute fruits for meals.
The reader can learn that “all our ideas of the world are interpretations of sense data that represent the existence of an independent material object” (Philosophy Notes 3). It is illustrated in the little boy’s perception of the ‘snake thing’ (Golding 48). The group is not sure of where the little boy saw a snake. It could be a formation in his memory.
One of three boys reflects that “That’s a reef. A coral reef. I’ve seen pictures like that” (Golding 38). Russell argues that the truth is not absolute because it relies on a belief or fact (Eames 168). The boy has only seen reefs in pictures and out of this reflection concludes that those are coral reefs.
The use of repetition and emphasis is used in the front pages on Piggy’s spectacles. On use of emphasis, it is stated that “the amount of time spent on a particular subject indicates its importance” (Philosophy Notes 4). The author uses emphasis on Piggy cleaning his spectacles so that the reader does not forget their existence. Their importance is demonstrated in the lighting the fire (Golding 55). The lenses also become the cause of the conflict that leads to Piggy’s death (Golding 260), and the search for Ralph through the entire forest.
Ethics requires that rules are followed by everyone. The group adheres to the rules about speech at meetings until Jack breaks them. Ralph has realized that Jack is becoming uncontrollable. He gives a reinforcement that “Hear him! He’s got the conch!” (Golding 126). He stood out for Piggy for the first time.
Ralph always emphasized the importance of following rules. He argues that “we can’t have proper assemblies if you don’t stick to the rules” (Golding 128). The reader is made aware that allowing one person to break the rules will result in everyone desiring to break the rules. In that case, those who follow rules are likely to lose.
Politics results in the group splitting into two. Jack questions if there are benefits of adhering to rules. He also questions the benefit of having Ralph as a leader. Jack says, “He just gives orders and expects people to obey for nothing” (Golding 182). Jack claims that his boys provide meat, protection, and keep the fire burning.
Hobbes argues that “no man is a fit arbitrator in his own cause” (69). When Jack asks who should be the chief, the boys still choose Ralph. The boys are afraid of an enraged leader. Campbell argues that “the inflated ego of the tyrant is a curse to himself and his world” (11). Ralph uses democracy where the group decides what to do. He is not able to give thoughtful decisions by himself.
In the first contest to have the boys, Ralph seems to win. Politics takes a turn when Jack and his group have killed a large pig. Jack utters in pride that “tonight we are having a feast. We’ve killed a pig… you can come and eat with us” (Golding 202). Ralph offers the solution to find their own meat but the little boys are afraid of the jungle.
He uses the moment to increase the size of his ‘tribe’. In this case, Jack uses plenty of food on his side to win against Ralph. Campbell argues that the tyrant “touches lives with blight through friendship or assistance” (11). In real politics, a group may choose one who offers grants instead of good policies.
The little boys show a lack of responsibility. For a person to be counted as responsible he must show a clear understanding of the consequences of his action (Philosophy Notes 2). Action is preceded by a motive. Jack describes that “when the meeting was over, they’d work for five minutes, then wander off or go hunting” (Golding 70). The children do not realize the importance of huts because there is no rain. Jack with the older boys has agreed to keep the fire burning and surveillance.
The narrator describes that the “generosity brought a spatter of applause from the boys” (Golding 59). Comparing the two groups, the big boys have a sense of responsibility while the ‘littluns’ only want to play and eat. Hobbes argues that a just person is “he that taketh all the care he can, that his actions may be all just” (66). The foreseeable consequences of the big boys’ action are that there will be meat for meals and a signal for rescue. The whole group benefits from their actions.
The children find themselves in a situation guided by soft determinism. This appears in the instance where they are able to make rules and choices that are not essential for survival. Hard determinism is seen when the boys hunt down the sow that has piglets (Philosophy Notes 7).
The narrator says that “the hunters followed, wedded to her in lust, excited by the long chase and the dropped blood” (194). The boys would behave differently if they were living in cities. They would be afraid of blood. They would show kindness to a wild pig so long as it had suckling piglets. The environment has made them ferocious for survival.
The effect of environment has a different impact on different people. For example, Ralph shows mercy to the pig stuck on a creeper (Golding 41). Jack wants the strong to rule. Hobbes argues that “when a covenant is made, to break is unjust” (64). On the other hand, Ralph prefers to be chosen.
Jack’s perception is influenced by hard determinism. Campbell argues that “the logic, the heroes, the deeds of myth survive into modern times” (2). Ralph is influenced by soft determinism where he acts in a civilized manner even in the wilderness. In modern times, complete democracy is not realistic. A few people form rules they consider best for everyone and enforce them. Ralph forms rules by involving everyone so that everyone will respect them.
A researcher may be considered responsible for the invention of his tools. Piggy and Ralph argue that everyone else outside the island could be dead as a result of the atomic bomb (Golding 16). Some technology could be considered good or bad depending on the purpose they serve.
Simon, Jack and Ralph use a rolling rock to form a path while exploring the island (Golding 37). On the other hand, Roger uses a rolling rock to kill Piggy (Golding 260). In the same manner, nuclear technology is used for weapons and to provide energy at a low cost. Planes were used massively to drop bombs on cities during the world wars but today they are mainly used for business.
The reader may realize that benefits of research do not rely on the motives that initiate them. Some forms of technology are formed as a result of hard determinism. It is a similar case that forms knowledge about a rolling rock when the three boys wanted a path.
The author tells the reader that culture has some influence on people’s behavior. Jack speaks out that “After all, we’re not savages. We’re English, and the English are the best at everything” (Golding 58). The boys are proud of their culture. They agree that they ought to have more rules because they are English. Locke argues that “it is impossible to have an idea that we are not conscious of” (Fuller, Stecker & Wright 67).
The same perception is seen from the naval officer. The officer says that “you’re all British, aren’t you? – You should have been able to put up a better show than that” (Golding 290). In this situation, the children themselves and the officer believe that morality and ethics is determined by culture. It is difficult to judge immorality that comes as a result of culture (Philosophy Notes 7).
Maurice shows morality through conflict resolution (Philosophy Notes 8). The children had started to cry when Maurice pretended to fall over. They started laughing “so absurdly that the biguns joined in” (Golding 123).
On the other hand, Piggy seems to intensify arguments about whether the hunters should neglect the fire for a pig (Golding 99). Instead of turning to Jack, Ralph punches Piggy on his belly. The tension that was building between the two leaders was lessened. It may appear to the reader as unjust to hit Piggy but it prevents a bigger conflict. It is morality through guidance of action.
The story is given a happy ending. Campbell argues that “it is justly scorned as a misinterpretation, for the world as we know it yields but one ending, death” (19). The author uses the happy ending to relieve the reader from ‘substituted concerns’. Jack is portrayed as a boy capable of doing anything to satisfy his greed. This is the situation when he burns the entire forest just to capture Ralph (Golding 284). The author uses Piggy to show oppression of knowledge that does not conform to pre-existing knowledge or beliefs.
Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Novato: New World Library, 2008. Print.
Eames, Elizabeth. Bertrand Russell’s Theory of Knowledge, New York: Routledge. Print.
Fuller, Gary, Robert Stecker, & John Wright. John Locke: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding in Focus, London: Routledge, 2000. Print.
Golding, William. Lord of the Flies, New York: Global Village Contemporary Classics, 1954. KOMAScript and LaTeX. Web.
Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan. Boston: Digireads.com Publishing, 2009. Print.
Levinson, Jerrold. The Pleasures of Aesthetics: Philosophical Essays, New York: Cornell University Press. Print.
Philosophy Notes, 375A. “Philosophy & Literature: 8 Jan-26 March 2013”.
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