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Compare and Contrast the Opening Chapters of 'Lord of the Flies' by William Golding and 'Great Expectations' by Charles Dickens

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Compare and Contrast the Opening Chapters of 'Lord of the Flies' by William Golding and 'Great Expectations' by Charles Dickens 'Lord of the Flies' and 'Great Expectations' were written a century apart, yet both novels explore ideas that are still relevant today. Both authors use the characters and symbolism as vehicles to convey their message about society and human nature. The opening of Lord of the Flies conforms to the 'castaway adventure' convention - a group of boys marooned on a beautiful desert island. William Golding uses vivid descriptions of the island to set the scene, and to convey the atmosphere, 'The shore was fledged with palm trees...the water drew to a point at infinity; and always, almost visible, was the heat' We are made aware of the heat and the beauty of the island, but the initial 'castaway adventure' impression changes throughout the course of the novel as both the characters and the setting begin to change. The boys become savage and the island is destroyed. Amongst the descriptions of this apparently paradisiacal beautiful island, Golding gives subtle hints of future events by showing how the island has been affected by the sudden arrival of the boys, '...smashed into the jungle...broken trunks...' and by indicating that the fruit on the islands gives the boys diarrhoea. ...read more.


Throughout the novel Ralph tries to fight for reason and civilisation and although he too gets drawn into the brutal mass attack on Simon he end up alone, trying to escape from Jack and the other boys. He becomes very brave and characteristics of his bravery are complemented by his description. Although written a century apart, both authors show awareness of class divisions in their opening chapters. From the first few sentences that Piggy says we can see that he has an accent ' When we was coming down I looked through one of them windows...and this is what the tube done...' We are introduced to Magwitch's accent also in his first few sentences 'Tell us your name...give it mouth!...Show us where you live, pint out the place!' These accentuated accents give the impression that the characters are of a different class to the others, whose accents are more what we would today call 'middle England'. The accents allow the authors to explore the contrast in wealth and background between the characters. Both Piggy and Magwitch, who are seen as the lower class characters, are outcasts - Magwitch because he is a convict and Piggy because of his weight and his glasses. However, later on in the novels Magwitch and Piggy surprise us. We find out that Piggy is a lot more knowledgeable than the rest of the boys and he is also very sensible and a loyal friend to Ralph. ...read more.


This shows that the novel was written in Victorian times, when children automatically treated adults with respect and deferred to them without question. Both William Golding and Charles Dickens use symbolism in their opening chapters. William Golding introduces the conch in the first chapter - a symbol of democracy. Originally the conch is used to call meetings, and bring the boys to order. As the boys become increasingly savage, the conch become decreasingly important. It is eventually smashed when Piggy dies, and along with the destruction of the conch, the final traces of democracy leave the island. The island itself is the shape of boat. This is a symbol of human society and symbolises the boy's journey of self-discovery. In Great Expectations, as the convict runs away, he runs towards a 'gibbet'. This is a wooden frame on which the corpse of a hanged man would be displayed. It is a symbol of punishment, and the convict seems to be running towards it, as if he is moving towards his own death sentence. 'Lord of the Flies' and 'Great Expectations' both effectively explore the use of symbols, deal with childhood perceptions and the distinction between social classes to create powerful images which communicate a timeless message about human nature. Both use descriptions of characters, suspense and surroundings to create an atmosphere, and succeed in making their opening chapters effective. 1 Jessica Cohen 11B ...read more.

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