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Lord of the flies - William Golding

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Introduction

Lord of the flies - William Golding "After all were not savages, we're English and the English are best at everything." - Trace the decline of civilisation during the novel. In this novel we can see the disintegration of reason and civilisation, which is inversely proportional to the rise of hedonistic ideas and savagery. We can also see that the island is a microcosm of the rest of the world, which is also disintegrating due to the nuclear war which is being waged. Also the 'littluns' in the novel represent the general public of the world and Piggy is the symbol of reason. So therefore on both the island and outside there is a conflict between instinct and reason. So as the island is a depiction of the whole world we can see from the start the inevitability of decline. From the title quote we can see irony, as in England civilisation has already broken down as they are at war. Even at the beginning of the novel we can see the contradicting ideals of Ralph and Jack which seems to suggest an eventual split. We can see that from the start Jack promotes himself as a very instinctive figure and when he renames his choir as "the hunters" he shows his desire to pursue pleasure, whereas Ralph's plans promote the less desirable idea of rescue with sacrifices of pleasure. ...read more.

Middle

We can see the decline of civilisation through some physical indicators represented by the boys. For instance throughout the novel the amount of clothes which the boys are wearing have strong representations as to the level of civilization. As soon as Ralph lands on the island he feels the need to smarten himself when his clothes are messed up. For instance he pulls up his socks on impulse, which shows the influence of society; "The fair boy stopped and jerked his stockings up with an automatic gesture." This shows how Ralph is totally familiarised with the customs of school and civilisation. However further on in the novel we can see as the boys' clothes deteriorate so does their level of civilisation. For instance on Page 120 it describes the poor state of Ralph's clothes; "Clothes, worn away, stiff like his own with sweat, put on, not for decorum or comfort but out of custom" So although his clothes are in a bad way, he still feels the need to wear them as at this stage in the novel he is desperately to hang on to leadership and civilisation. However Jack, the representation of instinct loses his clothes faster and on Page 154 this is described; "Stark naked save for paint and a belt, was Jack." ...read more.

Conclusion

"The Hangman's horror clung to him." We can observe the furthest stages of degeneration and Roger shows a complete loss of respect for civilisation, he even destroys the symbols of reason when Piggy and the Conch are destroyed through his cold blooded actions. Then in the final chapter of the book we see a horrifying prospect offered by Roger when they are about to hunt Ralph which indicates that the regression is still progressing further; "Roger sharpened a stick at both ends." Firstly they now seemed to be openly prepared to hunt and kill a human being. However from this quote we can see that Roger is implying that once Ralph has been caught his head should be placed on top of a stick in the ground as a sacrifice to the beast which, in the minds of the hunters, becomes a God. It also implies the act of cannibalism, which would symbolise the total collapse of any thought and the total control by impulse and instinct. Further in this chapter the tribe use fire, formerly a symbol of rescue, as a weapon in the hunt for Ralph. This shows how the side of instinct has totally won this battle against reason as it has, by this stage, destroyed Piggy, Simon and the conch and stolen the main promoter of the side of reason, fire. ...read more.

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