Overwhelmed, the plane started descending. Out of the windows, visibility was a green blur with an occasional flash of a dark, nervous sea. Within what seemed like a second, the plane’s engines subsided, and as if a china bowl had dropped from the comfortable safety of the countertop, there was chaos and then silence. Away from society and order, what is to stop young boys from being young boys? Boys isolated from the norm, and exposed to everything except what they were used to. In Lord of the Flies, a group of youthful boys becomes stranded on a deserted island, and as they experience new, frightening things, make new connections, and meet their enemies, savagery, and brutality swallow many of them into a sightless abyss. A place swirling with greed, selfishness, and desperation. A place were limits and rules become a thing of the past. Sir William Golding develops various forms of symbolism throughout his novel, Lord of the Flies, such as Jack, who represents mankind’s essential illness; the lust for power, and the desperation to achieve maximal superiority above all others.
Greed. An unflinching, unavoidable trap. It consumes its victims and can alter the complete personality of anyone. In the novel, the best example of limitless greed resides in Jack’s character. A self-absorbed, avaricious boy who seeks attention and is the definition of undeniable savagery. In chapter 9, Golding states, “Before the party had started, a great log had been dragged into the center of the lawn, and Jack, painted and garlanded, sat there like an idol. There were piles of meat on green leaves near him, and fruit, and coconut shells full of drink.” (148-149 Golding) Through the analysis of this quote, it becomes obvious that Jack felt, because he had supplied the boys with meat, that they will serve him. They will see him as their leader for he has filled their bellies and satisfied the desperation of hunger; far more than Ralph could ever do. Through Jack’s eyes, because he completed a task that proves strength, defiance, and power he should be worshiped. In the quote, it is said that he was surrounded by food, with the other boys watching him like an idol. This portrays the image of people worshiping a god. With Jack having such an inflated ego, believing, he is a god-like figure, he immediately assumes he is the most valued and holds the most importance. Jack’s greed becomes one of his main driving motives to be faster, stronger, and more respected. As the days on the island stretch on, he becomes lost in the endless battle against others to be better; part of the everlasting illness that possesses mankind.
Consistently throughout the novel, Jack finds he is lost in a world revolving around himself. When considering his interactions with others, and lack of respect towards them, it is clear that he will think of his benefit before the slight thought of the people around him occurs. He does not even consider how his irrational and actions will affect the people around him. At the beginning of the book, an example would be when he takes the “fire-watchers” to go hunt with him. He forgets the whole plan of wanting to get off the island and instead formulates this sick, twisted game of brutally torturing and killing pigs. During his thrilling expedition, a ship passes the island. Their only hope passes the island, yet the fire remains silent as delicate sparks flicker in the splintered cavities of the dried wood and the smoke no longer lingers in the air. Not only Jack’s lack of empathy but also his incapability to consider others results in all the boys having to struggle through more days amongst the uncanny island. Golding later states, “Jack had to think a moment before he could remember what rescue was.” (Golding 53). At this point in the novel, the reader is not only able to see Jack’s level of selfishness but also how it can consume one, blinding them from what is right. Blinding them from the real world, and leaving them hopelessly swimming through the oblivion of infirmity.
In the novel, Piggy states, “Which is better — to be a pack of painted Indians like you are, or to be sensible like Ralph is? Which is better — to have rules and agree, or to hunt and kill? Which is better, law and rescue, or hunting and breaking things up?” (Golding 180). When it comes to all the characters as a whole, they have one major thing in common. They’re all young boys who are stranded in an unknown place. Young boys who are curious and make mistakes. Young boys who deserve the privilege to make mistakes and learn from them like everyone else their age. In many parts of the book, it is proved that many of the boys lack maturity. Instead of accessing the situation – being stuck on an island – and thinking about how they are going to build shelters or get water, they become sidetracked and excited by dangerous, thrilling, and mysterious things. In the book, when Jack becomes aware of the fact that there are pigs on the island that becomes his top priority. To him personally, more important than being rescued. Overall, with immaturity being something that everyone experiences, it is considered normal at a young age. However, if you are swallowed into the need for excitement and thrill, where will there be room for logical and rational thinking. Will it reach the point where you become blinded by this need for entertainment that the consequences could harm, or possibly injure someone else? Once one has fallen too far into the trap, the only result will be chaos. Chaos, leading to the loss of those around you, the loss of others’ trust, and the loss of connection to others and the world. Only to produce a lonesome, solemn silence.
Golding’s perspective of mankind’s illness can be considered as one’s inability to have full self-control of themselves, and provide empathy towards others. There is always an evil within someone, waiting to make its appearance. There is a destructive, hungry being inside, and when provided with the chance, it will blind its host and bring upon destruction and chaos. When one falls too far gone to his beast, the boundary between society, rational thinking, and simple empathy will slowly crumble away. So, is Golding’s perspective upon man that they are good, but carry with them flaws? Or that they will always be able to control themselves and determine their actions? Whatever it is, there is an unsettling evil that waits under one’s skin and would be happy to appease its audience through greed, selfishness, and wearing a mask of immaturity.