Essay on Different Changes In Different Characters Of Lord

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Different Changes In Different Characters Of Lord Of The Flies

In his first novel, William Golding used a group of boys stranded on a tropical island to
illustrate the malicious nature of mankind. Lord of the Flies dealt with changes that the
boys underwent as they gradually adapted to the isolated freedom from society. Three main
characters depicted different effects on certain individuals under those circumstances.
Jack Merridew began as the arrogant and self-righteous leader of a choir. The freedom of
the island allowed him to further develop the darker side of his personality as the Chief
of a savage tribe. Ralph started as a self-assured boy whose confidence in himself came
from the acceptance of his peers. He had a fair nature as he was willing to listen to
Piggy. He became increasingly dependent on Piggy's wisdom and became lost in the confusion
around him. Towards the end of the story his rejection from their society of savage boys
forced him to fend for himself. Piggy was an educated boy who had grown up as an outcast.
Due to his academic childhood, he was more mature than the others and retained his
civilized behaviour. But his experiences on the island gave him a more realistic
understanding of the cruelty possessed by some people. The ordeals of the three boys on
the island made them more aware of the evil inside themselves and in some cases, made the
false politeness that had clothed them dissipate. However, the changes experienced by one
boy differed from those endured by another. This is attributable to the physical and
mental dissimilarities between them.

Jack was first described with an ugly sense of cruelty that made him naturally unlikeable.
As leader of the choir and one of the tallest boys on the island, Jack's physical height
and authority matched his arrogant personality. His desire to be Chief was clearly evident
in his first appearance. When the idea of having a Chief was mentioned Jack spoke out
immediately. "I ought to be chief," said Jack with simple arrogance, "because I'm chapter
chorister and head boy."  He led his choir by administering much discipline resulting in
forced obedience from the cloaked boys. His ill-nature was well expressed through his
impoliteness of saying, "Shut up, Fatty." at Piggy. (p. 23) However, despite his
unpleasant personality, his lack of courage and his conscience prevented him from killing
the first pig they encountered. "They knew very well why he hadn't: because of the
enormity of the knife descending and cutting into living flesh; because of the unbearable
blood." (p. 34) Even at the meetings, Jack was able to contain himself under the
leadership of Ralph. He had even suggested the implementation of rules to regulate
themselves. This was a Jack who was proud to be British, and who was shaped and still
bound by the laws of a civilized society. The freedom offered to him by the island allowed
Jack to express the darker sides of his personality that he hid from the ideals of his
past environment. Without adults as a superior and responsible authority, he began to lose
his fear of being punished for improper actions and behaviours. This freedom coupled with
his malicious and arrogant personality made it possible for him to quickly degenerate into
a savage. He put on paint, first to camouflage himself from the pigs. But he discovered
that the paint allowed him to hide the forbidden thoughts in his mind that his facial
expressions would otherwise betray. "The mask was a thing on its own behind which Jack
hid, liberated from shame and self-consciousness." (p. 69) Through hunting, Jack lost his
fear of blood and of killing living animals. He reached a point where he actually enjoyed
the sensation of hunting a prey afraid of his spear and knife. His natural desire for
blood and violence was brought out by his hunting of pigs. As Ralph became lost in his own
confusion, Jack began to assert himself as chief. The boys realizing that Jack was a
stronger and more self-assured leader gave in easily to the freedom of Jack's savagery.
Placed in a position of power and with his followers sharing his crazed hunger for
violence, Jack gained encouragement to commit the vile acts of thievery and murder. Freed
from the conditions of a regulated society, Jack gradually became more violent and the
rules and proper behaviour by which he was brought up were forgotten. The freedom given to
him unveiled his true self under the clothing worn by civilized people to hide his darker

Ralph was introduced as a fair and likeable boy whose self-assured mad him feel secure
even on the island without any adults. His interaction with Piggy demonstrated his
pleasant nature as he did not call him names with hateful intent as Jack had. His good
physique allowed him to be well accepted among his peers, and this gave him enough
confidence to speak out readily in public. His handsome features and the conch as a symbol
of power and order pointed him out from the crowd of boys and proclaimed him Chief. "There
was a stillness about Ralph as he sat that marked him out: there was his size, and
attractive appearance; and most obscurely, yet most powerful, there was the conch." (p.
24) From the quick decisions he made as Chief near the beginning of the novel, it could be
seen that Ralph was well-organized. But even so, Ralph began repeatedly to long and
daydream of his civilized and regular past. Gradually, Ralph became confused and began to
lose clarity in his thoughts and speeches. "Ralph was puzzled by the shutter that
flickered in his brain. There was something he wanted to say; then the shutter had come
down." (p. 156) He started to feel lost in their new environment as the boys, with the
exception of Piggy began to change and adapt to their freedom. As he did not lose his
sense of responsibility, his viewpoints and priorities began to differ from the savages'.
He was more influenced by Piggy than by Jack, who in a way could be viewed as a source of
evil. Even though the significance of the fire as a rescue signal was slowly dismissed,
Ralph continued to stress the importance of the fire at the mountaintop. He also tried to
reestablish the organization that had helped to keep the island clean and free of
potential fire hazards. This difference made most of the boys less convinced of the
integrity of Ralph. As his supporters became fewer and Jack's insistence on being chief
grew, his strength as a leader diminished. But even though Ralph had retained much of his
past social conditioning, he too was not spared from the evil released by the freedom from
rules and adults. During the play-fight after their unsuccessful hunt in the course of
their search for the beast, Ralph for the first time, had an opportunity to join the
hunters and share their desire for violence. "Ralph too was fighting to get near, to get a
handful of that brown, vulnerable flesh. The desire to squeeze and hurt was
over-mastering." (p. 126) Without rules to limit them, they were free to make their game
as real as they wanted. Ralph did not understand the hatred Jack had for him, nor did he
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