Essay On Savagery

Choose a novel in which an important theme is explored. Explain how the author develops this theme throughout the novel.

            The Lord of the Flies by William Golding is a novel in which the theme of savagery versus civilisation is explored. Some British boys are stranded on an isolated island at the time of an imaginary nuclear war. On the island we see conflict between two main characters, Jack and Ralph, who respectively represent civilisation and savagery. This has an effect on the rest of the boys throughout the novel as they delve further and further into savagery.

             The theme of savagery versus civilisation is first introduced to us through the symbol of the conch shell which we associate with Ralph as he is the person who first uses it and becomes the elected leader of the boys. This symbolises authority amongst the boys. At the first assembly Ralph says “I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak…he won’t be interrupted”. This suggests civilisation as Ralph is allowing each boy to have an equal say and opinion. If they have the conch, no matter who they are or what age they are they will be given the chance to speak and will be listened to by the rest of the boys. The boys have created the island to be a democratic place which shows a civilised side to them as they try to mimic the homes they have just left.

             Contrasting with the symbol of the conch is the symbol of the beast which comes to be associated with Jack as by the end of the novel he is almost devil worshipping it. The beast begins as a  “snake thing” but by the end of the novel it has become “the Lord of the Flies”. The first quote shows us that the beast is clearly evil. Western society considers snakes to be bad omens because it was a snake that led Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge. However at this stage of the novel the beast is quite insubstantial as it is only a “thing”. As the boys fear of the beast grows so to does the beast itself until it has manifested into the devil – the ultimate and most powerful evil. He has a strong status as a Lord although it is over something pretty disgusting – the flies. The boys belief in the beast leads them to behave more like savages as they act out from their fear and they begin to loose hold of the rules, led by Jack, thus demonstrating the theme of savagery.

             One of ways Golding shows conflict between savagery and civilisation is when Jack and some of the other boys are killing the first pig. Jack chants “kill the pig, cut her throat, spill the blood”. This suggests savagery as the boys are being violent and aggressive when killing the pig and they don’t care about it. This is particularly clear through Golding’s word choice. Jack talks about cutting the pig’s throat which makes it sound like a savage action and spilling her blood which reinforces the lack of care and feeling shown towards the pug’s carcass. This shows that the boys are no longer feeling guilty about what they have done thus showing them becoming savages. 

             We can see the conflict between savagery and civilisation developing further when Piggy’s glasses are broken. We are told “Piggy cried out in terror ‘my specs!” This shows us that the boys savage natures are beginning to overule their more civilised sides. At the start of the book Jack would never have dared touch Piggy, but here he actually snaps and goes for Piggy who he despises. We can tell that Piggy is really scared as Golding chooses the words “cried” and “terror” to describe the scene. Piggy sounds like he is hurting and is genuinely terrified about what Jack might do to him and the loss of his sight. Piggy’s glasses have also come to represent intelligence on the island, with them breaking we see that the pathway to savagery is now completely open for the boys. This is the first true piece of violence between the two factions on the island and it will result in nearly all the boys becoming savages.

             A final way in which we see the theme of savagery versus civilisation being demonstrated is when Ralph sticks up for Piggy after he is attacked by Jack. Ralph says “that was a dirty trick”. This shows that Ralph is really angry at Jack for what he said and did to Piggy. He is still attempting to impose himself as leader here as he says this in an aggressive and assertive tone. This suggests there is still some glimmers of civilisation on the island at this point as there is still someone with a sense of moral goodness ready to fight for justice.

             In conclusion The Lord of the Flies by William Golding is a novel in which the theme of savagery versus civilisation is shown. Ralph represents civilisation as he wants to enforce rules and let everyone have an equal say. Whereas Jack who represents savagery as he rules over the boys and he is not interested in what they have to say. Through the boys actions Golding shows us that we need rules and to consciously impose them to make sure society functions properly.

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The ‘ Lord of Flies ‘ written by William Golding talks about a group of boys whom their plane was crashed in an isolated island and it shows how they tried to build their own society . However, most of them get totally affected by the primitive life , so the boys splinter into factions, some behave peacefully and work together to maintain order and achieve common goals, while others rebel and seek only anarchy and violence . The overarching theme of Lord of the Flies is the conflict between the human impulse towards savagery and the rules of civilization which are designed to minimize it. Throughout the novel, the conflict is dramatized by the clash between Ralph and Jack, who respectively represent civilization Vs. savagery .The differences are expressed by each boy’s distinct attitudes towards authority.

Civilization can be seen as cultural and intellectual refinement in human society . In the Lord of the Flies , the boys started off adopting civil rules and creating civility amongst themselves. These rules last for some time , and during this time no chaos breaks out. Within the novel there are many signs showing the boys attempt in establishing a civilized society on that island . First , there is the conch which represents order and encourages the boys to have respect and patience for each other ; this is illustrated in the quote ” I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak , he can hold it when he’s speaking . ” . The second thing to show how they tried to be more civilized is their need to elect a leader . The boy’s electing a leader is perhaps one of the greatest displays of democracy and civilization that happens in the book . “Yes! Let’s vote ! Vote for chief” this shows they were aware that electing a leader is the only thing to make things work out , especially in a large group of young boys . Another representation of civility in the book is the huts that the boys made. These shelters provide the practical purpose of using shelters to protect them from weather.

They also provide a substitute for home , a place where the boys can gather togother in the hours of darkness to seek comfort from being close to other people . They provide an escape from the darkness and unknown which lies outside their walls . At last , the barometer of the boy’s connection to civilization is the signal fire . In the early parts of the novel , the fact that the boys maintain the fire is a sign that they want to be rescued and return to society . When the fire burns low or goes out , we realize that the boys have lost sight of their desire to be rescued and have accepted their savage lives on the island .Thus , the signal fire functions as a measurement of the strengths of the civilized instinct remaining on the island . Ironically , at the end of the novel , a fire finally summons a ship to the island , but not the signal fire . Instead , it is the fire of savagery – the forest fire Jack’s group starts as part of his quest to hunt and kill Ralph .

On the other hand , Savagery is the fierce , violent and uncontrolled society which is lacking the restrains which are normal to human beings . In the Lord of The Flies , the boys descent to savagery is a gradual process . There are some influential factors for there descent . First reasons may be the lack of faith and fire . As the days go by without any sign of a rescue ship , the boys start to doubt if they ever will be rescued. This discourses them from working to keep the signal fire going . “I’ve been watching the sea . There hasn’t been the trace of a ship , perhaps we’ll never be rescued ..” , as a result for Roger saying this the boys stop guarding the fire and make ir go out ; therefore , a struggle happens to make the fire , also piggy’s glasses are broken which symbolize loss of intellect and civilization and the rise of savage instincts . Another thing to illustrate them getting more savage is the War Paint , Jack uses white and red clay and makes black marks with a stick of charcoal . He wishes to camouflage himself so that the pig won’t spot him in the jungle.

However , once he applies the paint , Jack becomes aware the ‘ behind the mask ‘ of his painted face he is free from all restrains and responsibilities , he can in effect do what he wants . When the boys follow Jack and apply paint to themselves they almost instantly change . The war paint starts to reveal the hunters’ inner savagery and it conceals their true identities so they can do whatever they want with no consequences even murder . The other thing is the Lack of democracy , Rebellion and Fear . When the younger boys started following Jack things got out of control . Jack influenced the boys and made them follow his rebellious ways . He leads them into killing and this the most brutal display of savagery , he also leads them into believing that there is a beast and evoking fear upon them.

This fear of the beast eventually leads to the death of Simon , the most civilized of them all . The last stage happened to the boys is the Loss of innocence . After the boys ‘ most riveting display of brutality and savagery , the boys’ sense of morality is completely gone . Their innocence goes along with it . They are no longer little church boys but brutal savage beinngs completely misguided by an even more brutal leader . In conclusion, in the novel The Lord of the Flies, Golding succeeds in showing the actions, decisions and thinking of young children. At many points throughout Lord of the Flies, he writes for the characters to become gradually more and more evil . He manages to show us how human beings can move from civilization to savagery easily as it’s one of the prime instincts in human beings .

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