Sustaining Order and Democracy in Lord of the Flies and The Maze Runner
In William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and James Dashner’s The Maze Runner, the protagonists, Ralph and Thomas, are set up as leaders of the society that is constructed encompassing them. However, whilst Ralph joins the island within a group- incrementing himself into his position- Thomas joins an already settled group which has developed a system in which he primarily becomes alienated. Throughout this, the civilization in which both characters were placed was disintegrating (part of the dystopian theme).
Both works of literature take place in a new and unknown setting for all characters; with these areas being “the Glade” and an unnamed island. Moreover, the main protagonist in each storyline tends to strive towards a goal i.e. escaping their surroundings to get to a possible utopia, whilst undergoing challenges along the way. In both literary works, groups of boys must learn to build up a functioning society system whilst no adults or proper authoritarian figures are present, making it difficult for the groups to attain a corresponding democracy. Notwithstanding the dystopian resemblances and comparisons, there are likewise few differences in the way each group of boys behaves under their given circumstances.
The main purpose of this extended essay is to explore the use of deuteragonists and tritagonists in relation to a demoralizing society and lack of authoritarian figures within the setting. The characters being used to compare and analyse this are Golding’s Simon and Piggy, and Dashner’s Newt and Chuck. Additionally, it touches on the use of gender, which is a technique used by the authors to benefit the plot of degrading civilization and diminishing democracy. Furthermore, it examines how and in which way Golding and Dashner use certain objects or insinuations as symbols of democracy, order and/or hierarchy amongst the retreating humanity and organization between the groups of boys within the novels.
Firstly, I will examine how the situation is, in which the characters of both novels find themselves i.e. the disintegration of civilization. In order to convey this, I will discuss the effect of both works being based on a society full of boys and having the common theme of the absence of authority. Lastly, I will be highlighting with which similarities and differences Piggy and Chuck, as well as Newt and Simon, embody and represent the need for democracy and order in Lord of the Flies and The Maze Runner. I hope to be able to draw a conclusion about the extent to which these characters portray and sustain order and democracy in comparison with their protagonist counterparts during the disintegration of civilization in these works of literature and amongst their dystopian and science fiction genres.
The Effect of an ‘All-Boys’ Society
A society of only boys is formed within both Lord of the Flies and The Maze Runner: An “All-Boys” society tends to be more primitive in nature than any other, thus serving well in effect to create a demoralizing society amongst the boys. The reason for writing a work regarding only male characters is just as William Golding stated: “I was once a little boy. […] I have never been a sister, or a mother or a grandmother.” This statement highlights the fact that Golding has had experience of how an all-boys society would project itself, as he has more of an understanding of how a boy would think, act and speak if he were to be stuck on an island without authoritarian figures or rules and regulations that are meant to guide him. Furthermore, Golding states that “a group of little boys is more like a scaled down society than a group of little girls would be”. This shows why there is a large need for order within these isolated groups of young men. Since the boys are more likely to deteriorate acting civilized, there is a demand for a figure to overtake the portrayal of democracy and aim to keep the boys in order. Golding continues, saying that “what you cannot do is take a bunch of them and boil them down to a set of little girls that would become a kind of image of a civilization of society.” As a democratic civilization is beyond most of the boys’ thoughts and instincts, and tends to overtake order, the authors both highlighted the more rational characters and had them represent the democracy amongst the savagery of an “All-Boys” society. Additionally, there is a profound reason to cutting female characters from both works, as the novels are meant to “be about the problem of evil and the problem of how people are to live together in society- not just as lovers.”
The Effect of the Absence of Authority
A common theme in both works is the absence of authority, which takes a large toll on the situation in which the groups of boys find themselves. Without authoritarian guidance, the boys seem lost and helpless; not having a society to fit into or any rules to follow.
It is not until the denouement of the novel that it is clear to the society of adolescents in The Maze Runner that they are being tested by a governmental organization, composed of adults, amongst them: doctors. This results in Lord of the Flies as well, in the ending scene, as an officer comes to the island, rescuing the boys yet seeming disconnected and not merely as concerned as a grown adult normally would be in such a situation. Although there are no adults i.e. authoritarian figures, within the premises of the groups, the boys attempt to build a society amongst themselves and constitute a system of order. For example, in The Maze Runner, the “Gladers” aim for order. This can be seen, as they build up a system of various working classes, such as Runners, Slicers, Med-Jacks, etc. On the other hand, as protagonist Thomas appears, order is thrown off, seen as the Gladers resort to harsher punishments to ensure order, such as banishing Ben.
In the Glade order is a symbol of hope and helps the Gladers feel as though they have a normal rather than abnormal life. With “the Creators” being physically absent, the group of teenage boys must keep order to cooperate and ensure survival. Thus, the Glade is labeled as the space for order and democracy, with the Gladers even voting on jobs during meetings they call “Gatherings”. On the other hand, the Maze is viewed as a place of chaos. It is the area of destruction which Newt and Chuck want to keep Thomas from, preventing him from delving into the chaos rather than keeping up order. This is seen as Chuck does not want to grant Thomas his wish of becoming a Runner very easily and does not want to discuss the Maze with him. Another example is, as Thomas unexpectedly runs into the Maze to help other Gladers get out, Newt yells “don’t do it, Tommy! Don’t you bloody do it!” Here, Newt is portraying the need for order to be maintained and taking over the role of a parent watching out for their child.
Not only in The Maze Runner is it evident that lacking authority is causing behavioral confusion within the group of boys. In Lord of the Flies, Ralph mentions: “There aren’t any grownups. We shall have to look after ourselves.” In addition, early on, Golding’s tritagonist Piggy understands the fact that the adults would handle the situation in a different manner to the boys, with the words: “What are we? Humans? Or animals? Or savages? What’s grownups going to think?” As Jack speaks out against him, Piggy adds the fact that Jack is not in possession of the conch at that moment and should not be the one speaking. This indicates that, at this point, Piggy had chosen an item (the conch) to help him proliferate order and democracy amidst the boys. Likewise, during this time, protagonist Ralph reinforces the democracy he knows to be true due to having been in an authority-driven environment beforehand. “You’re breaking the rules!” Ralph shouts at Jack in this section, since he does not cast his attention to who has the right to speak with the conch. However, Ralph is quickly adjourned by Jack, who rhetorically asks “who cares?” Quickly, Ralph chimes down and reverts from the argument, easily giving up on the democracy he was willing to represent and encourage previously. Thus, a disintegration of the boys’ civilization has begun as Ralph began neglecting the democracy he was attempting to enforce; therefore, letting chaos reign.
As Ralph starts out confident regarding keeping democracy, Piggy does not, stating “nobody don’t know we’re here. Your dad don’t know, nobody don’t know- “. Panicking at first, Piggy quickly turns into a portrayal for democracy due to his worry of ending as wild animals and not as the society he has seen whilst authority was not absent. As the officer comes to the island at the end of Lord of the Flies, he seems to reciprocate all comments and answers from the stranded boys with a exaggerated sense of humor, as he jokes: “A semicircle of little boys, sharp sticks in their hands, were standing on the beach.” Moreover, the officer insists on his idea that the boys have merely been undergoing “fun and games” on the island, even as Ralph tells him about Simon and Piggy’s deaths.
Overall, the authoritarian figures that appear towards the end of both novels, do not mind what the groups of boys have had to live through and take their misfortunes as a humorous experience. Although the boys view the absence of authority as a direct path into inevitable chaos, and Ralph and Thomas feel the need to fill in the position of authority, the Creators and the officer would likely not have upheld democracy if they were to be amongst the group of boys. At last, Newt, Chuck, Simon and Piggy must accommodate the position of authority and rule by helping the protagonists make the right decisions when aiming for order and a democratic society.
Deuteragonists and Tritagonists
Newt is named after Sir Isaac Newton, which announces his cleverness and his desire for structure. His will to maintain a structural society within the Glade may come from the fact that he attempted to jump of the Maze walls in despair. His hopelessness is what drove him to prevent the others from any turmoil and discord, thus becoming Second-in-Command. As he is the runner up to lead the group of boys, Newt portrays democracy and initiates voting, rules and regulations within the Glade. Furthermore, Newt is very empathetic and caring for the rest of the boys. For example, as Alby sacrifices himself, Newt is quick to ask the rest of the group how they could “be so heartless”.
Simon is very inquisitive and does not believe every story he is told. As fear over a beast on the island becomes a prominent emotion amidst the boys, Simon is the only one to contemplate whether the beast even exists, as he states that it is merely a figment of the boys’ imagination. Simon soon finds out he is correct: “The beast was harmless and horrible; and the news must reach the others as soon as possible.” Thus, he confirms that the fear of the beast is an emotion which is creating an unnecessary tension and chaos amongst the group. At this point in the novel Simon already clearly maps a “picture of a human at once heroic and sick” in his mind and knows that he must prevent the beast from causing fear a destruction. As he wants to explain this, however, he is mistaken for the beast and brutally stabbed to death by the other boys; amongst them, Ralph and Piggy. In many aspects Newt and Simon are similar. Both boys are the innocent, trustworthy sidekicks of protagonists Thomas and Ralph; even equally possessing a British accent. Newt and Simon respectively contain their composure and play a key role in defending the peace and tranquility between the groups of boys whilst the pro- and antagonists seem to be creating chaos. Both characters are eventually killed with help of the protagonist, as Simon is stabbed by his accomplices and Newt is murdered per mercy-killing at the hands of Thomas.
When first introduced, Piggy is shy and, upon being asked, he voices that he does not care what the other boys call him. He follows up this statement, by saying “they used to call me Piggy.” Until the ending scenes, Piggy is the voice of reason and attempts to talk sense into the other boys through statements and rhetorical questions such as, “which is better – to have rules and agree, or to hunt and kill?” They show that Piggy strives to avoid violence and tend more towards a social construct with humane actions.
However, inevitably both Piggy and Ralph were drawn into the fear of a beast and the uproar of this. Eventually, “Piggy and Ralph found themselves eager to take place in this demented but partly secure society.” This represents how the boys know that the society they created is chaotic but still believe that they are sustaining order and democracy, nonetheless. After partaking in the savagery of what the boys think is killing the beast, Piggy is confronted with guilt as Ralph tells him “that was murder.” Piggy quickly denies this statement and claims that “it was an accident and that’s that”. In this moment, Piggy is ignorant and shortly refrains from being the portrayal for order and democracy on the island. Since Simon is no longer around, Piggy feels as though a part of his order has been lost, as the counterpart to his efforts and the other advocate for a correct, functioning civilization was destroyed.
Chuck is talkative, the youngest Glader and, early on, exemplifies the intellectual and loyal side to the group of boys encapsulated by the Maze. In many ways, Chuck mirrors Piggy’s character, which can be seen both in the way they are physically built- since both characters are chubby- as well as in the way in which they are looked upon in a condescending manner by the characters surrounding them. Equally, they are laughed at and ridiculed by other characters, have story-changing deaths and represent the innocence the rest of the characters are missing or have long said farewell to.
In connection to Newt and Simon, Piggy and Chuck are correspondingly sacrificed. As Chuck throws himself in front of Thomas, taking a dagger to the chest, chaos seems to have broken out. Most surprisingly, however, order is most quickly disregarded by the protagonist, Thomas, who- shortly after Chuck’s death- had a “seed of rage. Of revenge. Of hate. Something dark and terrible” brewing within him. Shortly after Thomas’ has feelings of aggression, he “cried, wept like he’d never wept before.” He attacks Gally and, therefore, lets chaos pursue after Chuck’s death. It is as though Chuck was the grounding root embedded in the Glader’s -and especially Thomas- to act civilized and preserve order to maintain hope for a mutual way out of the Maze. In the same way as with rights and democracy, both Thomas and Ralph did not realize the importance of what they had until it was gone. Earlier in the novels, the two protagonists are annoyed by the witty, protective and cheeky remarks of Chuck and Piggy. However, later both grow fond of the boys and come to realize how their civilization would collapse without the input of the tritagonists.
In Lord of the Flies “the Conch” is used to symbolize order and democracy, as the person in possession of it is the one who may speak. This is an establishment of ranking and society amongst the boys on the island during meetings. Piggy is often seen reaching for the Conch, asking for a chance to hold it or simply holding it as though he were trying to uphold the civilization amongst the boys or maintain strict democracy solely by himself. As Ralph and antagonist Jack fight over Piggy’s glasses, they show how, for them, democracy has long fallen apart. Together they are fighting over an item which belongs to neither of them and causing chaos amongst each other and the rest of the boys on the island. Both passing themselves off as leaders or wanting to be the leader of the deserted group of boys, they ultimately cause more destruction than order.
During the fiasco between Ralph and Jack, temper is lost, and Piggy is crushed by a boulder one of the boys pushes onto him. Hereby, the conch shell which the boys used to maintain order, falls and cracks into many tiny pieces. This portrays that the main way that democracy was upheld, was destroyed alongside Piggy. This preludes the future, which shows, as Piggy and the Conch disappear, democracy and order will be forgotten on the island and inevitably chaos and destruction will pursue. Altogether “the breaking of the Conch and the deaths of Piggy and Simon lay over the island like a vapor,” portraying a connection between the three and reinforcing the representation of democracy and lawful behaviour.
From the beginning on, Thomas and Ralph attempt to establish rules and aim to enforce democracy; for example, by establishing the conch. Whilst Ralph and Thomas seek to portray a democratic society, they are often guided by Simon and Piggy or Newt and Chuck to what they are meant to say or do in terms of keeping their group civilized.
Furthermore, “dissent is the cornerstone of democracy” ; meaning the protagonists’ quarrels with the antagonists are evidently an important feature to paving the path to democracy and order in the Glade and on the island. The fact that these characters do not work well together and disagree, is what is propelling the boys to find a possible solution. The protagonists Ralph and Thomas cannot successfully embody order and democracy and rather convey pandemonium and the dissolution of the society that they begin to lead. However, this is a result of many varying factors within their society, such as: the opposition of antagonists Jack and Gally throughout the novels, the psychotic inclinations the boys develop which lead to the destruction of Piggy and Chuck, and the fear of a being greater than themselves (the beast, Grievers and the Flare ) that ultimately ends in the death of Newt and Simon.
By killing the protagonist’s true friends (tritagonists) in both novels, the antagonists hoped to restrict the protagonist’s power, in order to gain control over the situation and gain the upper hand in face of the disintegration of civilization. On the other hand, the protagonists go against this as well; thus, causing more raucous, chaos and savagery to break out and take place. Whilst the protagonists and antagonists combat one another for a rank in the society they believe to have built up, a hierarchy and various societal roles begin to blossom amongst the characters. Endmost, “Ralph wept for the innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.” The concluding thought is that Ralph regrets not making the democratic choices he could have made earlier and knows he could have prevented falling into chaos and losing all these virtues. Thus, he recognizes that Simon and Piggy were representatives of order and democracy on the island and helped him with this. Similarly, Thomas realizes this for Chuck, and ultimately Newt as well after “he wept like he’d never wept before,” and sinks “deeper into the misery of the night”
Overall, the deuteragonists and tritagonists in Lord of the Flies and The Maze Runner play a significant role and -to a large extent- a greater role in producing and sustaining order and democracy in a self-built society than the protagonists i.e. main characters during the disintegration of civilization. Often the deuteragonists, tritagonists and antagonists in these novels are more important to the progression of the plot whilst civilization amongst other characters is diminishing. However, this is not applicable in all situations, as the protagonist still specifically takes a toll on many factors of unification, order and consolidation amongst the characters, such as showing the confidence to lead the group in a profound manner. Moreover, and to a great extent, the novels show the deuteragonists and tritagonists’ approaches to uphold civilization, peace and a societal construct, including the order, rules and regulations of democracy. In contrast, the protagonists are attempting to maintain order and a democracy, are although stuck in a struggle for power with the antagonist instead. Hereby, the protagonists’ attempts lead to more ill-mannered behavior, savagery and -ultimately- death.
All boys in Lord of the Flies and the Maze Runner originally appear as personalities that keep to themselves and avoid trouble. However, as the novels unfold, the protagonists involve themselves with the antagonists in attempt to fight them off and gain the upper hand for control, thinking they are doing no wrong. Hereby, the protagonists overestimate their capabilities, losing their connection to civilization and needing assistance to prevent more chaos and destruction from occurring. Lastly, the deuteragonists and tritagonists must be the ones to dissociate themselves from the chaotic happenings and focus on building up a society based on morals and democracy. Often, these two groups of characters represent order and must guide the protagonist to achieve democracy.
When Newt, Chuck, Simon and Piggy are no longer present and no authoritarian figures uphold civilization amongst them, the all-boys society tends to collapse. Thus, the protagonist is forced to realize that he must find a way to build democracy and reinvoke order to fulfill his potential. This means, that the deuteragonists and tritagonists in Golding’s Lord of the Flies and Dashner’s The Maze Runner must be present within the society of boys, in order to push the protagonists to fulfill the potential of upholding order and democracy on their own further into the future of the dystopian worlds they live in.
Therefore, the deuteragonists and tritagonists portray order and democracy to a greater extent than the protagonists during the disintegration of civilization. Democracy and order is especially depicted by the tritagonists, Piggy and Chuck, who act as innocent, loyal sidekicks to the protagonists, are belittled and taunted by others throughout the course of the novels, and have the ability to tear the last bit of order with them as they depart.
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