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Lord of the Flies- Critical Approaches to Jack

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Erika Rasmussen

on 6 June 2013

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Transcript of Lord of the Flies- Critical Approaches to Jack

Lord of the Flies Erika Rasmussen Thesis The Critical Approaches Religious Allegory Historical/Biographical Political Allegory Psychological (Freudian) Works Cited William Golding implies through his characterization of Jack Merridew that a man can always revert to his natural savagery due to a lack of civilization and abuse of power. Religious Allegory: Published in 1954, the book takes place during World War II. The violence of the war is unmistakably mirrored in the behavior of the boys on the island, especially Jack. Just 21 years after WWI, WWII began and "created a new sense that people are inherently warlike, power hungry, and savage" (LitCharts). Golding saw this brutality firsthand when he served in the Royal Navy. Golding also admitted to bullying his peers as a child, saying that "'I enjoyed hurting people'" (Bio). Golding's own violent tendencies are apparent in Jack's character on multiple occasions. Jack's aggression is remarkably evident in the scene where he and his hunters are chasing down a pig. As Golding writes, "Jack was on top of the sow, stabbing downward with his knife. ... Then Jack found the throat and the hot blood spouted over his hands" (125). He further displays his savagery by holding out his bloodstained hands and rubbing them on Maurice's cheeks, all while giggling. Golding, William. "Lord of the Flies." William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Eds.
James R. Baker and Arthur P. Ziegler, Jr. New York: Perigee, 1988. 1-187. Print. A figurative representation or extended metaphor of an abstract idea with underlying religious meaning. Psycological (Freudian): Relating to the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud. It provides a view of the human psyche that stems from both conscious and unconscious factors. Historical/Biographical: The correlation between the author's life and their works of literature. The works are said to reflect the author's experiences and time. Political Allegory: Interpreting the character as a representation of a hidden political meaning. In the beginning, Jack is introduced as "tall, thin, and bony: and his hair was red beneath the black cap. His face was crumpled and freckled, and ugly without silliness. Out of this face stared two light blue eyes, and turning, or ready to turn, to anger" (Golding 17). This presentation can be analogous to the appearance of Satan. Satan was initially an angel, just as Jack is originally a well-mannered schoolboy, but his desire for power and status forced him to act out and cause his downfall. As Rosenfield states, "These two [Ralph and Jack] are very obviously intended to recall God and the Devil, whose confrontation, in the history of Western religions, establishes the moral basis for all actions." Similarly, Jack's desire to usurp Ralph as leader of the island causes him to become a violent
savage. The Freudian theory suggests that there are three aspects of the human psyche: the id, the ego, and the superego. Jack Merridew is a representation of the id. According to Shay, "The id is the part of the psyche that consists of natural instincts and primitive urges. It also controls the destructive and aggressive tendencies toward anything that interferes with gaining pleasure." Jack is certainly aggressive when he is attempting to get something that he wants. For instance, after Piggy is killed, Jack declares that he is chief and, "Viciously, with full intention, he hurled his spear at Ralph" (Golding 167). With Piggy out of the way, the boys no longer have "solemn assembly for debate nor dignity of the conch" (Golding 181). Also, Jack is more confident that he can do away with Ralph and gain ultimate leadership on the island. Naturally, he lets nothing stand in his way, and he will kill for the power he desires. Rosenfield, Claire. "'Men of a Smaller Growth': A Psychological Analysis of William Golding's
'Lord of the Flies.'" Rev. of "Lord of the Flies," by William Golding. "Literature and Psychology" 11.4 (1961): 93-101. "Literature Resource Center." Web. 4 June 2013. <http://galenet.galegroup.com>. Shay, Courtney. "Pscychological analysis of William Golding's 'Lord of the Flies.'" Helium.
Helium, Inc., 8 May 2007. Web. 4 June 2013. <http://www.helium.com/items/166894-pscychological-analysis-of-william-goldings-lord-of-the-flies>. Frost, Martin. "The Lord of the Flies." Frost's Meditations. N.p.,
n.d. Web. 5 June 2013. <http://www.martinfrost.ws/htmlfiles/april2007/lord_flies.html>. "William Golding Biography." Bio.com. A+E Television Networks, n.d. Web.
5 June 2013. <http://www.biography.com/people/william-
golding-9314523?page=1>. Read from a political standpoint, Jack can be seen as a dictator, the common comparison being Hitler. Jack lusts for power, hoping to usurp Ralph as leader of the island. From the beginning, he shows his desire to be the one in charge. Golding describes the scene, saying, "'I ought to be chief,' said Jack with simple arrogance, 'because I'm chapter chorister and head boy. I can sing C sharp'" (19). He is extremely bitter about losing the vote to Ralph, and he shows his displeasure about it all throughout the novel. Jack disregards the conch, which is a symbol of civilization and authority. As Frost explains, "Jack may represent the opposition of democracy, dictatorship, or even the opposition of civilization itself--sheer atavistic savagery." Jack surely seems as
though he is opposed to civilization, as he does
things that would never be permitted
in a society. "Lord of the Flies: Background Info." LitCharts. LitCharts, n.d. Web. 5 June 2013.
<http://www.litcharts.com/lit/lord-of-the-flies/background-info>. Any Questions?
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