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Corruption Vs. Civilization in Lord of the Flies

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Corruption vs. Civilization in Lord of the Flies

Every now and then, one finds themselves taking a deeper look inside of their soul, often times resulting in the discovery of an inner being. This inner being is perfectly depicted through the lord of the flies. Contrary to the boys’ beliefs, the lord of the flies, or in the novel the symbol of the “beast”, is not “something you could hunt and kill” (164), but rather a spirit that dwells inside of a soul, and slowly seduces one into complete and utter savagery. In the novel, Lord of the Flies, William Golding gives the reader a glimpse into a society composed of a group of young British boys, all raised in a civilized and orderly manner, that find themselves stranded on a deserted island. Fighting for survival, many of the boys surrender to the Beast that engulfs them. Others, like Ralph, find themselves in a much more complex and compromising battle- one that takes place inside the mind. In his novel, Lord of the Flies, William Golding uses the motifs of the pig dance, the conch, and the masks to convey the theme that man becomes a corrupt and savage being without a strict system of order and civilization.

By dancing and singing to celebrate the brutal murdering of a pig, the boys enter into a society, or even a cult, surrounded by sadistic and brutal thoughts. The first time the boys perform this ritual, Golding describes their actions as “relieved and excited…making pig-dying noises and shouting” (81). Clearly, the boys feel a rush of exhilaration and excitement when they escape their civilized manner and become a member of this vicious sacrament. These feelings serve only to propel them deeper into this cult, as one can see in their future “pig dances. Later in the novel, Golding describes Ralph’s feelings during the next pig dance, writing that “the desire to squeeze and hurt was overwhelming” (130). Here, it is obvious that even one of the most civilized boys on the island can still be overcome with this “desire”. The reader can see that the young boys are slowly becoming more savage and drifting further away from their civilized norms. During one of the last “pig dances” mentioned in the novel, one can see that the experience has become much more atrocious and brutal: “There were no words, and no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws” (175). Here, every boy is transfixed by this power that has overcome them. They are helpless to defend themselves and ultimately give in to the beast. Through the ritual of the “pig dances”, the reader is able to interpret Goldings’ theme that a man without civilization is a savage and corrupt man.

From the beginning of the novel, Golding establishes the symbolism of the conch. It represents order and development in their small society. For example, the first person to use the conch is Ralph. As a result, Ralph becomes the leader of the group for the majority of the novel. In fact, it is only when the conch is broken near the end of the novel that Ralph completely loses his influence over the boys, as if it were contained in the shell and escaped when it shattered. During the first meeting with the conch, the boys are eager to embark on an adventure of living as young civilized British boys on the deserted island, and declare that they will “have rules!...Lots of rules! Then when anyone breaks вЂ?em-вЂ¦Ð²Ð‚Ñœ (33). The boys then proceed to make noises suggesting some sort of punishment for anyone that breaks these rules. Clearly, they are used to a system of order, most likely stemming from their private schools, and feel more comfortable functioning when this system is put in place. Near the middle of the novel, the plot thickens. Jack threatens to create his own tribe, which Ralph and Piggy know will only lead to more havoc. They have no choice but to confront the said “savages” and demand that they first give Piggy’s specs back after brutally stealing them during the night, and second, they insist upon sticking together because there is a possibility that they will be there for the rest of their lives. Ralph gives Piggy the honor of carrying the conch to their fort, and “Piggy sought in his mind for words to convey his passionate willingness to carry the conch against all odds” (198).



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