• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Compare and contrast the presentation of the extremes of good and evil in Goldings Lord of the Flies and Shakespeares Macbeth. How do these extremes reflect the times in which the texts were written?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Transfer-Encoding: chunked Compare and contrast the presentation of the extremes of good and evil in Golding?s Lord of the Flies and Shakespeare?s Macbeth. How do these extremes reflect the times in which the texts were written? (30 marks) Both Lord of the Flies and Macbeth are texts that explore the inner darkness of the human race and describe what depravities mankind is capable of. Good is briefly presented in each text but is not the focus of the plot. These are texts that very much reflect the times that they were written in: Jacobean England and Cold War England, two periods of history that were shrouded with threat and fear of evil. In examining the presentations of good and evil, a good place to start is how the sources of evil are portrayed in both texts. Primarily the main difference between the two texts is that in Macbeth evil is an external force personified as Satan as well as something internal. Conversely, in Lord of the Flies the Beast is only a figment of their imagination and all evil stems from man?s hereditary nature. This is presented to us in chapter 8 of Lord of the Flies when Simon hallucinates about a conversation with beast, and in Act 2 Scenes 2 and 3 of Macbeth when the concept of demonic influence is discussed in the wake of Duncan?s murder. In Act 2 Scene 2 Macbeth bemoans that ?I had most need of a blessing, and ?Amen? / Stuck in my throat.? The inability to say a prayer was seen to be a symbol of being bewitched and a total severance of any connection with God. ...read more.

Middle

The name Simon could also point to Simon of Cyrene, who carried the cross for Christ and helped him with his burden, in the way that Simon helps both the little ones and Piggy with their struggles. Likewise, in Macbeth Banquo is also presented as a good man when everyone around him is encompassed by evil. This much is illustrated in Act 2 Scene 3 when he states that, ?In the great hand of God I stand.? Shakespeare?s use of religious imagery is much bolder than Golding?s, but both authors use it to the same effect: creating a sense of good. In page 188, leading up to Simon?s murder, we are told that, ?The dark sky was shattered by a blue-white scar.? Golding?s use of pathetic fallacy foreshadows what evil is about to take place, as storms represent turmoil and violence. Similar pathetic fallacy is used in Macbeth in Act 2 Scene 1, when Banquo remarks that, ?There's husbandry in heaven; / Their candles are all out,? implying that the stars have gone out and Scotland has been plunged into impenetrable darkness. The effect of darkness on the audience is that it creates an atmosphere of suspense and foreboding, hinting at the evil that is to come. This evil is displayed when we see Macbeth meditating the murder of his closest friend in Act 3 Scene 1. Macbeth recognises that if Banquo is allowed to live he will always be a threat to him, for his, ?dauntless temper,? and his, ?wisdom,? far surpass that of Macbeth. He continues to deplore that, ?Only for them; and mine eternal jewel / Given to the common enemy of man.? If Macbeth does not dispose of Banquo he will have defiled his mind for nothing, as it will all be to Banquo?s benefit. ...read more.

Conclusion

The ending of Lord of the Flies, although ultimately hopeful, is more pessimistic in its wording. We are told that, ?Ralph wept for the end of all innocence.? Even though good has been brought to them, Ralph acknowledges that what has happened on the island can never be undone, and they will all have to battle with the memories for the rest of their lives. Golding rejected the accusation that his book was pessimistic. He said, ?I think good will overcome evil in the end. I don?t quite know how but I have that simple faith.? World War II was finally over, Japan had surrendered. Good had triumphed. However, just like in Lord of the Flies, that victory had a hollow ring. Thousands of civilians had to be murdered by nuclear weapons before the militant Japanese government put down its arms. The world had very much witnessed, ?the end of all innocence.? Likewise, at the time of Shakespeare?s writing Guy Fawkes and his men had been executed and good held the upper hand in England ? if the emasculation and quartering of criminals can really be considered ?good?. Both texts show the reader that good cannot overcome evil without considerable loss and anguish. To conclude, both texts present the extremes of good and evil in keeping with the times that they were written in. Both give a clear message: evil is extremely powerful, but good will always triumph. Arguably Golding?s presentation of evil is more extreme than Shakespeare?s, because Golding uses pre-pubescent boys as his antagonists with no previous exposure to violence, whereas in Shakespeare the antagonist is a seasoned warrior with plenty of killing experience. Both texts issue a stern warning to humanity about controlling our desires. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE William Golding section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE William Golding essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Compare and contrast Defoe's Robinson Crusoe with Golding's Lord of the Flies.

    4 star(s)

    Rene Descartes, a philosopher of the period, believed in the power of human spirit and reason over the force of nature. He said that 'True knowledge must come from human reason alone. Defoe uses pirates and savages to symbolise a more primitive and uncontrolled force and uses Crusoe's triumph over them to illustrate human spirit.

  2. Is Golding's view of humanity entirely pessimistic?

    By introducing this, Golding is emphasizing some of the flaws in human kind. Jack represents humanity's obsessive need for power and this shows Golding's view of humanity in this sense is very pessimistic. The positive significance of the conch gradually begins to disintegrate, mainly due to Jack's resistance towards it.

  1. To what extent is Lord of the flies a pessimistic book?

    They do this 'gently' this shows that the creatures have respect for Simon, as they would have respect for Christ. In chapter six a parachutist lands on the island, and dies. 'A sign came from the world of the grown- ups...a figure dropping swiftly beneath a parachute, a figure that hung with dangling limbs.'

  2. How does 'Lord of the Flies' convey the struggle between good and evil?

    He is advised by Piggy, who is the intellectual, but has physical difficulties with his asthma, glasses, and being a lot overweight. Although probably the most intelligent of the boys, Piggy has now power, and does not get on well with Jack.

  1. How does William Golding use language in his description of the island and the ...

    the chant into a fit of laughter or more seriously and likely continue getting wrapped up in the killing of an animal. The simile ".... beat like a steady pulse" gives the impression that the boys are now one thing, breathing together.

  2. "Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart, and the ...

    Man is the leader of all living things because they have spirits and emotions. On the other hand, science is invented by people and it represents civilization, for example, the high technology, the medicine and the spacecraft. Piggy has a flaw in his character, he believes in what his auntie

  1. How is evil portrayed in 'Lord of the Flies'?

    Roger is the evilest character in the final chapters of the book, when he intentionally kills Piggy and smashes Piggy with a boulder. 'High overhead, Roger, with a sense of delirious abandonment, leaned all his weight on the lever.' However, with this quotation, it also shows us that Roger is

  2. Lord of the Flies. The novels exploration of the idea of human nature is ...

    Through the character of Jack in the novel, Golding illustrates the idea that once the constraints of civilisation are removed, the instinctual savage and anarchic side of human nature is revealed. Because the novel was published early into the Cold War, Golding displays the conflict between democracy and communistic totalitarianism in his novel.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work