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Literary Analysis: Julius Caesar v. The Lord of the Flies

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Introduction

Literary Analysis: Julius Caesar v. The Lord of the Flies In the 2008-2009 Florida Key Club District Convention Oratorical Contest, contestants were asked to answer the question: does one need power to make a difference in the world around them? Two of the three finalists answered with responses that said power, prestige, and wealth along with other esteemed qualities of our society are not necessary to make a difference. However, the other finalist and winner of the contest answered, "I am not trying to be cynical, but power is necessary to make a difference in the world around us. However, power is not having total control over those around you. Rather, power is the ability to influence those around you." Thinkers from all ages have pondered upon questions related to the nature of power, corruption and abuse because of power, methods of achieving power, and many other similar concepts. Simply put, these men and women around the world are trying to understand the dynamics of power. In Lord of the Flies, William Golding recounts the story of a colony of English schoolboys stranded on a deserted island from which three leaders will rise. Likewise, Shakespeare's Tragedy of Julius Caesar uses the story of history's most famous account of treason to explain these aforementioned dynamics of power. While both works use characterization and symbolism to communicate the theme of the dynamics of power, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar offers a better interpretation of this concept than does Lord of the Flies because it more accurately shows that some leaders act for just causes by letting Brutus contribute to the plot more so than Piggy; it describes abuses of power more realistically through Antony's treachery rather than the naïve abuses Jack from Lord of the Flies commits; additionally, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar also conveys the idea that a unifying force, like Julius Caesar, can prevent anarchy more logically than does the "conch" from the Lord of the Flies; on top of this, Jack and ...read more.

Middle

Once again, Shakespeare has offered a better description of this object. In The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, Julius Caesar is this unifying force. From the play, one can learn two things. First, the nature of the force does not matter if a force is in control or an object in place. In the play, Caesar fulfills this role, but, before the play began, one learns that Pompey was the leader of the Roman World and loved by many. Marullus accuses the people of Rome of being "blocks", "stones", and "worse senseless things". However, he sums this point up quite nicely when he says, "Knew you not Pompey? Many a time and oft/ Have you climbed up to walls and battlements, / To tow'rs and windows, yea, to chimney tops, / You infants in your arms, and there have sat/ The livelong day, with patient expectation, / To see great Pompey pass the streets of Rome. /... And do you now cull out a holiday/... That comes in triumph over Pompey's blood? /" (Tragedy of Julius Caesar, Act I, Sc. 1, excerpts from 38-52) From common knowledge, one knows that even before Pompey, peace was maintained strictly because there was a person in power. Simply put, people are not concerned about who has power as long as there is someone in power. Second, one can once again say that Shakespeare better demonstrates this point merely because of the symbolism he uses and how he integrates it into The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. Up until Caesar's assassination, most of Rome is rejoicing the end of the civil war and the possibility that Caesar might rise to power, but, after his death, things change. Antony predicts, "Blood and destruction shall be so in use, / And dreadful objects so familiar, / That mothers shall but smile when they behold/ Their infants quartered with the hands of war..." ...read more.

Conclusion

In other words, Shakespeare's argument in The Tragedy of Julius Caesar surpasses the argument in William Golding's Lord of the Flies since it is both more realistic and more detailed about the possible outcomes rather than offering a broad, pessimistic generalization. Shakespeare's Brutus actually gains some respect as many honest political leaders do while Golding proposes that honest and wise leaders like Piggy will always be put aside. Golding develops the naive argument that corrupt leaders are not aware of what they are doing as was Jack, but only wish to gain recognition while Shakespeare accurately characterizes Antony as corrupt, power hungry, and seeking personal gain and nothing else. Additionally, Golding uses the conch in his story as a unifying force but, then, depicts the decline of the society on the island to show how symbols of power and figureheads do not actually have any power over people even though real-life experience shows that group mentality will cause people to submit to some force even if it just replaced the former one thus adding to Shakespeare's argument. On top of this, Golding argues that exercises of power are futile since they always lead to a negative outcome which might just accelerate an impending event and that balances of power tip horribly opposite of logic while Shakespeare argues that all exercises of power do have consequences and that it is very rare for one to lose the support of all as both life and the characters of The Tragedy of Julius Caesar demonstrate. In short, Golding's argument cannot overcome that of Shakespeare's because it emphasizes the naivety of those in power and how the exercise of power is futile even though reality contradicts this in most of situations. Even the laws of nature itself prove this. As said by Newton, "Every action has an equal and opposite reaction." something that Golding could not grasp. ...read more.

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