Archetypal Protagonists in William Golding's "Lord of the Flies"
William Golding's Lord of the Flies is a profound allegory that tackles the fundamental question of human nature and its vulnerability in the absence of social institutions. Golding uses the characters of Ralph and Jack to highlight the contrasting archetypes of the protagonist and antagonist, the hero and the anti-hero, respectively. Through Ralph and Jack, Golding explores the dichotomy of good and evil, order and chaos, and civilization and savagery.
Ralph is the leader of the boys and represents the hero archetype, embodying traits such as courage, morality, and leadership skills. Ralph's determination to maintain order and civilization on the island is evident in his actions, such as building shelters, maintaining a signal fire, and creating rules. He is a selfless and accountable leader who emphasizes the importance of cooperation and collective survival. Ralph is the embodiment of good, representing the forces of order, civilization, and morality.
In contrast, Jack embodies the anti-hero archetype. Initially, he is the leader of the choirboys and becomes obsessed with hunting and the power that comes with it. Jack's thirst for control drives him to become increasingly savage and violent, as he becomes more focused on killing pigs and asserting his dominance over the other boys. Unlike Ralph, Jack lacks a sense of responsibility towards the group and is primarily driven by his own desires. He symbolizes the forces of evil, representing the chaos and savagery that exist in human nature.
Throughout the novel, the conflict between Ralph and Jack emphasizes the contrast between the hero and anti-hero archetypes. Their struggle for power on the island mirrors the larger struggle between civilization and the natural world. Golding uses this conflict to underscore the theme of human nature and its susceptibility to corruption. The novel shows how the absence of social institutions can lead to chaos and violence and how power can corrupt even the most moral and ethical individuals.
Moreover, the novel serves as a warning of the dangers of the absence of social norms and the corrupting influence of power. The boys' descent into savagery shows how easily people can be influenced by their primitive instincts and the desire for power. Golding argues that civilization is fragile and that its survival is dependent on social institutions and moral codes. Without them, society is prone to degenerate into a state of chaos and violence.
In conclusion, William Golding's Lord of the Flies explores the fundamental question of human nature and its vulnerability in the absence of social institutions. Through the characters of Ralph and Jack, Golding highlights the contrasting archetypes of the hero and the anti-hero, good and evil, order and chaos, and civilization and savagery. The novel's conflict between these two characters emphasizes the larger struggle between civilization and the natural world and underscores the theme of human nature and its susceptibility to corruption. Golding's depiction of these archetypes serves as a cautionary tale of the dangers of the absence of social norms and the corrupting influence of power. The novel's message is clear: civilization is fragile, and its survival is dependent on social institutions and moral codes.
Cite this Essay
To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below