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The Descent From Civilisation to Savagery

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02/11/01 The Descent From Civilisation to Savagery Rosa Rankin-Gee Jean-Jacques Rousseau (a philosopher from the 18th century) once said that 'civilization corrupts the essential innocence and goodness of man'. The "noble savage" in his own natural habitat will rid himself of societies evils. But exactly the opposite happens in Lord of The Flies. In fact, Golding shows that without society keeping him in line, man will revert back to his most primal state, and blur or even perhaps break the line between animals and humans. From the calling of the first meeting and all along up to the final hunt for Ralph the sense of order and respect is gradually declining among the boys. In the beginning everybody listens to what everybody has to say, and they try to build a civilized society on the island. The boys all seem to have been brought up properly with an unwarped, defined view of right and wrong. They elect a leader democratically, and by popular vote they start deciding what has to be done. ...read more.


It is with this Ralph calls all the meetings and all of the other boys seem to respect this. Anyone who holds it has the right to be heard. Without this, nobody would probably ever have listened to any of Piggy's intelligent suggestions. There would have been no fire, no shelters, no coconuts for drinking water and no assigned place for lavatory use. As the respect for the conch disappears, so does the law and order on the island. Jack, from quite early on in the book, says things along the line of 'The conch doesn't count up here' or 'Bullocks to the rules!'. This hits rock bottom as Piggy is killed and the conch is crushed with him. There is no longer any respect for the rules left on the island. Many things signal the downwards spiral of disorder: Leaving the fire unattended, which we are left to believe resulted in the death of a littl'un. Stealing and smashing Piggy's glasses which are the symbol of wisdom and clear vision, "my specs... ...read more.


These actions by Jack and some of the other boys would suggest that society is the only thing keeping man in line, and without society, man would return to his most primal state. The most momentous occasions are the murder of Simon and Piggy. Murder is recognised in almost all cultures as the epitome of wrongdoing, so it is not only defying 'British' standards - it is defying society and culture altogether. All things in this novel eventually develop into the opposite of what it once was. The boys order steadily declined as savagery took over and with that came chaos. The island itself becomes a prison after once being a paradise. I think that society simultaneously creates and suppresses the feelings and urges we like to associate with animals. Then, when put in an environment where society no longer exists, man would release what society had created, and become, in many ways, worse than animals. Mad, bad animals in fact. Golding simply, and skilfully, demonstrates the short deterioration from civilization to savagery that is inevitable in human nature. ...read more.

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