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Lord Of The Flies: Civilization Vs. Savagery
Transcript of Lord Of The Flies: Civilization Vs. Savagery
How does the theme relate to the present day?
Civilization Vs. Savagery Throughout The Story
Lord Of The Flies: Civilization Vs. Savagery
By Anna Kelly
What I learned about
civilization vs. society through the novel.
In the beginning of the novel, the boys are still unsure how to act in a place with no adults or rules. They stick very firmly to the behaviors they have been conditioned to follow and being to recreate the structures of society by electing a leader and dividing up the labor. Ralph and Piggy find a conch shell that they use to call organized and contained meetings, which displays their attempt to create a working civilization. The theme of savagery makes its first appearance in Jack with his desire for power when he asks to become the leader. We see the savagery progress further when Jack becomes obsessed with the though of killing the pig and paints his face to camouflage in the jungle. Since Jack is one of the more powerful and stronger boys, his actions influence many other boys to copy him.
The middle of the novel is when the savage nature of these boys becomes more apparent. Although Ralph is very civilly oriented, he still manages to get caught up in the thrill of the hunt when the boys are chasing after the boar. This shows how all humans, not matter how strong their instinct towards civilization has an underlying nature of savagery. Still being caught up in the excitement even though the boar has escaped, the boys begin to savagely reenact the hunt on Robert. The boys begin poking and hitting Robert with their spears and nearly killing him before regaining their composure. Later, after Jack separates from the original group and starts his new clan, we see a spike in savage behavior when Jack viciously kills the sow and impales its head on a spear and planting it in the ground.
Towards the end, after feasting on the pig all the boys, even Ralph’s troop begin a frenzy of dancing and chanting, suddenly when a boy sees a shadow and assume it’s the beast and begin to tear the figure apart, only after realizing they had just torn apart Simon. This is when savagery has almost taken over the island. Jack and Ralph’s camps have gone into complete conflict. Ralph’s camp decides to attempt to reason with the savages. Ralph blows the conch shell in attempt to regain some order, but it only results in the capturing of Sam and Eric, a fight between Ralph and Roger pushing a boulder onto Piggy, killing him and breaking the conch. Piggy’s murder and the breaking of the conch is the climax, this is when all form of civilization has been lost and Ralph is left to fend for himself against Jack and is group. Savagery has finally won the battle against civilization.
The Conch is the shell that Piggy and Ralph discover shorty after the crash. The conch is a symbol of civilization, it is used to summon of the boys who are scattered around the island so they can have an organized and orderly meeting; whoever has the conch has the right to speak during the meetings to help control them. The conch symbolizes order and authority in the group; it is given to Ralph when he is named the leader. It represents the side civilization in the theme of civilization vs. savagery by providing a form of government on the remote island. When the shell is broken when Roger pushed the boulder onto Piggy, it signifies the demise of civilization and the rise of savagery on the island.
The imaginary ferocious beast that scares all the boys symbolizes human natures unavoidable savagery that exists amongst everyone. The beast causes the boys to be very fearful, but Simon has an epiphany. He realizes the boys fear the beast because it exists inside of them. As the boys claim to see the beast more frequently and become more afraid of it, they become more paranoid and act out in violent savage fashions, which resulted in Simon’s murder. By the end of the novel, their fear is so great they offer the beast sacrifices. The root of origin of the beast is the boys’ savage behavior. The more savagely the boys’ act, the more terrifyingly real the beast becomes.
Ralph, the protagonist of the novel represents the civilized side of society. The boys on the island elect him leader. Being in this position of authority, is first instinct is to recreate a miniature functioning society by coordinating the boys’ efforts. He becomes frustrated when the boys aren’t doing their part because he believes that they should all do their part, but attempts to resolve the problem in an orderly fashion by calling a meeting. Ralph’s character symbolizes civilization in the theme of civilization vs. savagery.
Jack, the antagonist of the novel represents the savagery in society. Jack is a thrill-seeking, power craving boy, who becomes the leader of the hunters. Eventually, his desire for power escalates to the need for total control over everyone on the island, which transforms him to primitive and barbaric savage. He becomes obsessed with the thrill of the hunt early on in the novel and begins painting his face and forming spears to hunt for the wild pig. Jack symbolizes the savagery in the theme civilization vs. savagery, and when we gains total power, it symbolizes triumph of savagery.
“Roger stooped, picked up a stone, aimed, and threw it at Henry – threw it to miss. The stone, that token of preposterous time, bounced five yards to Henry’s right and fell in the water. Roger gathered a handful of stones and began to throw them. Yet there was a space round Henry, perhaps six yards in diameter, into which he dare not throw. Here, invisible yet strong, was the taboo of the old life. Round the squatting child was the protection of parents and school and policemen and the law.”(Ch.4 Pg.64/65)
This quote is the beginning of Roger’s cruelty towards the Littluns and shows the remaining behavioral habits Roger had before being stranded on the island. The group mindset of civilization is already slowly beginning to decay. At home, Roger would have great consequences if he were to throw rocks at others. Now without any adult supervision he can do whatever he wants, but he is unable to bring himself to actually hit the Littluns due to the morals that had been previously implanted in his brain.
“There isn’t anyone to help you. Only me. And I’m the Beast. […] Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill! […] You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you? Close, close, close! I’m the reason why it’s no go? Why things are the way they are?”
(Ch. 8 Pg.158)
This quote is the Beast’s dialogue to Simon. His words solidify Simon’s thought in chapter 5 that the beast is inside the boys themselves. It points out that the boys shouldn’t really be afraid of the beast, and that they should really fear the savage within. By this point in the novel, Jack and some others have already broken off of the original group and formed hunters, giving in to this instinct of savagery. Simon goes to enlighten the others about the truth behind the beast. But ironically, when he immerges from the forest, the boys mistake him for the beast and viciously attack him, resulting in Simon’s death.
Even though today we are considered to live in a civilized society, this theme can still be relevant to out lives. This theme brings up the age-old Hobbs and Locke question on whether humans are naturally evil or not. Do humans need to be under constant supervision or could we function on out own? This opinion varies between countries, which is why there are often many political conflicts concerning the matter. Conflicts, mainly wars, are also a subject that can be related to the theme of civilization vs. savagery. In war we battle to the death for all kinds of reasons, killing others for some kind of gain, whether it be power or religion etc. Yet we still consider our society to be civilized. I also think that gender can affect how this relates to today. T here are so many different aspects that create a multitude of answers, so there is no definite answer on whether or not human nature is civilized or savage. Now, there are many mediums that allow us to explore human nature, such as television and literature to help ease our curiosity.
What I learned about this theme is that without some guidance, children can return to a primitive state. Although there are many questions over the topic of conditioning, but I think without it, children will go wild and it could run our society into the ground. Also, even though a lacking of rules and authority may seem enjoyable, without them humans will not be able to coexist which would result in many conflicts. Everyone must have responsibilities and should understand how influential your actions are to others, especially the younger people. Without the enforcement of order in society, people will lie and cheat as a result of selfishness, greed etc. This makes me question the stability of our society and how we would react if a position of great power were to fall into the wrong hands in today’s society.