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Pieces of the Puzzle: the Island as a Macrocosm of Man

Essay by review  •  September 3, 2010  •  Book/Movie Report  •  1,722 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,493 Views

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Pieces of the Puzzle: the Island as a Macrocosm of Man

In viewing the various aspects of the island society in Golding's Lord of

the Flies as a symbolic microcosm of society, a converse perspective must

also be considered. Golding's island of marooned youngsters then becomes a

macrocosm, wherein the island represents the individual human and the

various characters and symbols the elements of the human psyche. As such,

Golding's world of children's morals and actions then becomes a survey of

the human condition, both individually and collectively.

Almost textbook in their portrayal, the primary characters of Jack, Ralph

and Piggy are then best interpreted as Freud's very concepts of id, ego and

superego, respectively. As the id of the island, Jack's actions are the

most blatantly driven by animalistically rapacious gratification needs. In

discovering the thrill of the hunt, his pleasure drive is emphasized,

purported by Freud to be the basic human need to be gratified. In much the

same way, Golding's portrayal of a hunt as a rape, with the boys ravenously

jumping atop the pig and brutalizing it, alludes to Freud's basis of the

pleasure drive in the libido, the term serving a double Lntendre in its

psychodynamic and physically sensual sense.

Jack's unwillingness to acknowledge the conch as the source of centrality on

the island and Ralph as the seat of power is consistent with the portrayal

of his particular self-importance. Freud also linked the id to what he

called the destructive drive, the aggressiveness of self-ruin. Jack's

antithetical lack of compassion for nature, for others, and ultimately for

himself is thoroughly evidenced in his needless hunting, his role in the

brutal murders of Simon and Piggy, and finally in his burning of the entire

island, even at the cost of his own life.

In much the same way, Piggy's demeanor and very character links him to the

superego, the conscience factor in Freud's model of the psyche. Golding

marks Piggy with the distinction of being more intellectually mature than

the others, branding him with a connection to a higher authority: the

outside world. It is because the superego is dependent on outside support

that Piggy fares the worst out of the three major characters in the

isolation of the island.

Piggy is described as being more socially compatible with adults, and

carries himself with a sense of rationale and purpose that often serves as

Ralph's moral compass in crisis; although Ralph initially uses the conch to

call the others, it is Piggy who possesses the knowledge to blow it as a

signal despite his inability to do so. Similarly, Piggy's glasses are the

only artifact of outside technology on the island, further indication of his

correlation to greater moral forces. In an almost gothic vein, these same

glasses are the only source of fire on the island, not only necessary for

the boys' rescue, but responsible for their ultimate destruction. Thus does

fire, and likewise Piggy's glasses, become a source of power.

Piggy's ideals are those most in conflict with Jack's overwhelming hunger

for power and satiation. It is in between these representations of chaos

and order that Ralph falls. Golding's depiction of Ralph as leader is

analogous to Freud's placement of the ego at the center of the psyche.

Ralph performs as the island's ego as he must offset the raw desires of the

id with the environment using the superego as a balancing tool. This

definition is consistent with Ralph's actions, patronizing Jack's wish to

hunt with their collective need to be rescued, often turning to Piggy for

advice. Initially, in the relative harmony of the island society's early

emergence, Ralph is able to balance the opposing id and superego influences

in order to forge a purpose: rescue. It is only as the balance devolves

that the fate of the island's inhabitants is darkly determined.

Among Ralph, Piggy and Jack exists a constant struggle to assert their

particular visions over the island. As the authority of leadership by

default falls to Ralph, the conch then becomes symbolic of the

consciousness. Its possession rotates between Ralph and Piggy in order to

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