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Jack Merridew and Adolf Hitler: Totalitarian Allegories in Golding's Lord of the Flies

Research Paper Presentation, English 371

Alexandra Day

on 4 May 2011

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Transcript of Jack Merridew and Adolf Hitler: Totalitarian Allegories in Golding's Lord of the Flies

Jack Merridew and Adolf Hitler: Totalitarian Allegories in William Golding's Lord of the Flies "Before the Second World War I believed in the perfectibility of social man; that a correct structure of society would produce goodwill…It is possible today that I believe something of the same again; but after the war I did not because I was unable to. I had discovered what one man could do to another. I am not talking of one killing another with a gun, or dropping a bomb on him or blowing him up or torpedoing him. I am thinking of the vileness beyond all words that went on, year after year, in the totalitarian states. It is bad enough to say that so many Jews were exterminated in this way and that…they were done skillfully, coldly, by educated men, doctors, lawyers, by men with a tradition of civilization behind them"-Golding, The Hot Gates So scarred by the horrors committed by Hitler’s Germany, Golding manifested the entire premise of Lord of the Flies based upon the characteristics and behavior of both Hitler and the Nazis that served under him. Through the characterization and influence of Jack Merridew in the Lord of the Flies, William Golding accurately allegorizes the traits of the totalitarian rulers of his time; specifically, Jack’s traits parallel the actions of Adolf Hitler during his rule over Nazi Germany. First Impressions

Opening description of Jack: “Inside the floating cloak he was tall, thin, and bony; and his hair was red beneath the black cap. His face was crumpled and freckled, and ugly without stillness. Out of his face started two light blue eyes, frustrated now, and turning, or ready to turn, to anger” (Golding 20) The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler, biographer Robert G.L. Waite addresses Hitler’s unremarkable physical appearance: “We look at his unimpressive, even ludicrous figure and wonder how it was possible for a great nation to hail him as their leader and savior...physically, Hitler did not seem well cast for his role and national hero and historic force” (5) Andre Francois-Poncet, the French Ambassador to Germany from 1931 to 1938 remarked: “he was the man out of the pages of Dostoyevsky, a man ‘possessed.” Lighting the Fire

The first time they set the signal fire, the method of doing so is deducted by Jack:

Jack pointed suddenly.
“His specs—use them as burning glasses!”
Piggy was surrounded before he could back away.
“Here—let me go!” His voice rose to a shriek of terror as Jack snatched the glasses off his face (Golding 40).

“at the sight of the flames and the irresistible course of the fire, the boys broke into shrill, excited cheering…the forest was savage with smoke and flame. The separate noises of the fire merged into a drum roll that seemed to shake the mountain” (Golding 44). Hitler in a speech at Munich in 1930: “Our fight is not at an end: on the contrary our conviction is that for all time it is only from the fighting spirit that there can come the force which shall master those weaknesses which to-day in every sphere cripple our people.” Nazi propaganda:
In an interview published in the Staatszeitung, Hitler remarks, “Why does the world shed crocodile’s tears over the richly merited fate of a small Jewish minority?...Are you prepared to receive in your midst these well-poisoners of the German people and the universal spirit of Christianity?” The Hunters and German Nationalism

"Within the diamond haze of the beach something dark was fumbling along. Then the creature stepped from the mirage onto clear sand, and they saw that the darkness was not all shadow but mostly clothing. The creature was a party of boys, marching approximately in step in two parallel lines and dressed in strange eccentric clothing" (Golding 19). The hunters' masks: “his [Jack] sinewy body held up a mask that drew their eyes and appalled them. He began to dance and his laughter became a bloodthirsty snarling. He capered toward Bill, and the mask was a thing on its own, behind which Jack hid, liberated from shame and self-consciousness” (Golding 63). “Piggy and Ralph, under the threat of the sky, found themselves eager to take a place in this demented but partly secure society. They were glad to touch the brown backs of the fence that hemmed in the terror and made it governable.
“Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!”(Golding 152).
The Nuremberg Trials
"When Justice Robert H. Jackson questioned a guard on trial at Nuremberg for the crime of leading thousands of Jews to the gas ovens for execution, the Nazi replied that he was only carrying out orders from above. Appalled by this blind ignorance to authority, Justice Jackson asked: ‘Suppose the order had included your own mother?’ Perplexed and bewildered by this question, the guard asked for an evening to think it over"(Snyder 15).
Testimony of Rudolph Hess, Commandant of Auschwitz:
"All mass executions through gassing took place under the direct order, supervision, and responsibility of RSHA. I received all orders for carrying out these mass executions directly from RSHA.” Enemies of the State: Simon, Piggy, and Ralph

Simon: Christ figure, death is "accidental."

Ralph and Piggy after his murder:
“That was murder.”
“You stop it!” said Piggy, shrilly. “What good’re you doing talking like that?”
He jumped to his feet and stood over Ralph.
“It was dark—there was that bloody dance. There was lightning and thunder and rain. We was scared!”
“I wasn’t scared,” said Ralph slowly, “I was—I don’t know what I was.” (Golding 156)
Piggy: Reason and Order

Jack’s reaction to the event: “See? See? That’s what you’ll get! I meant that!”(Golding 181). Ralph Ralph: biggest roadblock to Jack's supremacy.

Calls Jack a thief in front of the entire tribe, enraging him.

Jack's death is directly ordered: “See? I told you—he dangerous” (Golding 194). Hermann Goering, Nuremberg Trials
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: "The principles of the authoritarian government which you set up required, as I understand you, that there be tolerated no opposition by political parties which might defeat or obstruct the policy of the Nazi Party?"
GOERING: "You have understood this quite correctly. By that time we had lived long enough with opposition and we had had enough of it. Through opposition we had been completely ruined. It was now time to have done with it and to start building up."
Contains testimony from:

Polish priest named Father Leo Miechalowski, who was subjected to twisted Nazi medical experimentation at Dachau concentration camp.

German resistance movement member in Poland, Vladislava Karolewska Entire Jewish population is identified as enemies of the state:

"In the summer of 1941 I was summoned to Berlin to Reichsfuhrer SS Himmler to receive personal orders. He told me something to the effect--I do not remember the exact words--that the Fuhrer had given the order for a final solution of the Jewish question. We, the SS, must carry out that order. If it is not carried out now then the Jews will later on destroy the German people. He had chosen Auschwitz on account of its easy access by rail and also because the extensive site offered space for measures ensuring isolation" (Testimony of Rudolph Hess, Commandant of Auschwitz). Conclusion:
“The theme is an attempt to trace the defects of society back to the defects of human nature. The moral is that a shape of a society must depend on the ethical nature of the individual and not on any political system”- Golding Jack effectively turns a group of civil English boys into bloodthirsty savages. Adolf Hitler, one of the sickest men of all time, turned the majority of a country into mindless murderers. The Lord of the Flies simplifies the very complex situation that occurred in Nazi Germany, making the nature of that society much more easily comphrensible.
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