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Consider Pip from Great Expectations and Ralph from Lord of the Flies - Which character do you think gives the most realistic portrayal of childhood?

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Introduction

Consider Pip from Great Expectations and Ralph from Lord of the Flies. Which character do you think gives the most realistic portrayal of childhood? Both of these novels contain depictions of childhood. An important fact to keep aware of is that in Dickens' portrayal of childhood, there are adults present to mould Pip through his encounters with them, whereas Golding leaves his characters free from any guiding adult hand. Pip's sister being on "the rampage" when she felt Joe or Pip had done the slightest thing wrong, is different to Ralph's experience of childhood on the island as the closest thing he has to an adult guide is Piggy, who whilst undoubtedly more intelligent than the other boys, lacks the respect and authority an adult commands. Pip and Ralph are alike however in their longing for a lack of adults, "but then the delight of a realized ambition overcame him. In the middle of the scar he stood on his head and grinned at the reversed fat boy. 'No grown ups!' " Is what Golding tells us of Ralph, and similarly Dickens's Pip calls them all "toadies and humbugs". Although these views both seem to concur that a lack of adults is definitely a good thing, they do differ somewhat, I do not believe Ralph would go so far as to call all adults "toadies and humbugs" and this is certainly to do with their different backgrounds. ...read more.

Middle

Golding uses the views of others to reveal aspects of the main characters, and so influence how we feel about them, Piggy's view of Ralph and the others "Like a crowd of kids -" is supposed to make the reader feel that Piggy is far more mature, and that in turn Ralph is excessively immature, and childlike. Dicken's however uses Pip's perspective throughout the novel, and the language he uses differs greatly at the start as compared to the finish for the purposes of showing the transition between child and adult. For example "I religiously entertained that they had been born on their backs with their hands in their trouser pockets" is clearly not the impression an adult would get from having dead brothers or sisters, and most likely not the way they would describe them. However at the end of the book the language use has progressed to statements such as "Oh, Joe, you break my heart! Look angry at me, Joe! Strike me, Joe! Tell me of my ingratitude. Don't be so good to me." This is a statement the younger Pip would have been incapable of making, ti shows the complex differences in language that Dickens appreciates children use as compared to adults. In Great Expectations Pip is not treated as an adult, he is treated as a particularly worthless child, and as such he forms negative opinions of the adult world he will have to grow into, "that ass Pumblechook" being just ...read more.

Conclusion

To conclude I believe that Pip is by far the better portrayal of childhood. Childhood does not generally involve the lack of adult presence to so huge an extent as it does in Lord of the Flies, however the battles of child against adult and adult society such as are seen in Great Expectations do occur almost universally. I think that some qualities the reader sees in Ralph, such as the headstands, do display the kind of innocent glee a child might express, but other than that Ralph and is peers are all examples of the human race and so representative of those who rule the world, adults, and not of children who merely inhabit it. Golding's book is a political message of it's time, whereas Dickens was writing a novel, but his was free from the idealism that contaminates Golding's work. Dickens' novel still had a point, but this point was made about the way in which his society worked and in particular his belief that money is a great corrupter. Therefore I believe that Dickens' Pip is the most realistic portrayal of childhood as he behaves like a child, his expressions and attitudes are all those common to children. Dickens' also displays a deep understanding of how children work, and this comes across in Pip's actions. Golding's children however are only just recognisable as children, they could easily be replaced with full grown adults and still the story would work just as well. ...read more.

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