Compare the ways in which children are portrayed in Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies.
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Compare the ways in which children are portrayed in Henry James's The Turn of the Screw and William Golding's Lord of the Flies. How convincing do you find each author's treatment of evil in relation to his characters? Everyone likes to think of childhood as a symbol of a time of innocence. People tend to look back on their childhood nostalgically, they remember it as carefree and often use the term 'youth is wasted on the young' these feelings have stayed with us for centuries and are incredibly deep rooted. These feelings therefore, create widespread outrage when evil becomes apparent in children or is inflicted upon them, For example the murder of James Bulger by ten year olds and also abuse and corruption of children. Children are thought of as vulnerable, when there vulnerability is taken advantage of, especially by another child a question is asked, is childhood innocence a myth? The Victorians were aware of the religious doctrine of original sin, yet they were shocked that there was the suggestion that the two young children in Henry James's The Turn of the Screw could be evil.
governess has a romantic imagination and is overwhelmed by her new responsibilities but it also could be because the children's innocence portrayed in the first chapters of the novel makes their depravity later on seem all the more shocking to the reader as a contrast. When we first meet Golding's boys however they are portrayed to us far more realistically, Piggy is an excellent example of this as he is the first most down to earth character we meet, you immediately get an image of piggy and the things he says are never questioned in the readers head to be unrealistic or fake about him. This is because his speech and manners aren't perfect, which is what you would expect in a child. For me both authors treatment of evil in relation to his characters are convincing. James approaches the question of evil by being deliberately inexplicit. We are never actually informed as to what offence Miles was expelled from school 'I said things'- Miles.
It results in murder, first of Simon, then of Piggy, and finally the boys intend to hunt and kill Ralph. I also find the evil in children implication convincing in Goldings writing as it implies that evil comes from within and is present in everyone, even children. The build up to children murdering each other in this story is convincing and therefore the evil in them is convincing as nothing on the island apart from a dead corpse was there to trigger the evil that came from only them. Overall the two writers manage to deal with 'evil' in different but effectively, whilst both stories are of a different genre they both deal with the fact that evil may well be present in children. The children are portrayed differently because evil because apparent them in different ways, in James's novel through the ghosts and in Golding's novel through 'The Beast' however in both books evil is seen as a force, which consumes and destroys. Miles is destroyed at the end of James's novel though in ambiguous circumstances. In Golding's novel, the entire island is turned from a paradise into a raging inferno.
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