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Isolations Effect On Vice And Virtue In Lord Of The Flies

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In life jurisdiction keeps us in check and morally aware of our actions, it forces us to consciously think of right and wrong. Often our parents enforce these guidelines when young to ensure a stable and secure upbringing, but William Golding’s expansive commentary in Lord of the Flies is an example of what can happen when these guidelines aren’t enforced. The boys on the island bring different levels of emotional intensity to the situation and throughout the novel we see their different archetypes clash as they spiral further into chaos. The boys become acquainted with the idea of being isolated without authority and the absence of rules leads to their lack of integrity, and in turn misguided actions. As we get to know the characters better and the boys get situated, the evil that they enforce on each other outweighs their virtues. Mankind is made up of vice and virtue, and it is difficult to keep our primitive instincts at bay when left to our own devices.

It’s difficult to restrain ourselves and act appropriately without the presence of authority figures, most of us have never been allowed to completely be released of any societal expectations. So how do we know how we would act if these barriers were taken away? When growing up, you're more likely to make mistakes because of your learning. If the learning and maturing process are completely removed then anarchy is a likely outcome. However, although it’s difficult to act with virtue when all reasoning is removed, it’s not impossible. Simon is the only boy on the island that maintains a moral high ground and clear conscious from the time they find themselves stranded to the point of his untimely death. Out of so many boys, the fact that only one does not resort to a savage state directly points to how difficult it is to keep ourselves in check when not given a reason to. The reasoning as to why Simon stays consistent is because he represents goodness and is a presence of morality and virtue during dark times, he fits into a christ figure or holy archetype, and could even be perceived as mirroring Jesus. “Simon found for them the fruit they could not reach” (Golding 56). Simon’s compassion towards the little uns could be compared to Jesus’s aid to the hungry. The comparison between Simon and Jesus could be concluded as an allusion due to Golding’s many indirect comparisons between the two. Simon stands out and is the reason why it is difficult, not impossible to keep our primitive instincts in check. Even towards the timing of his death, Simon remains civil, when talking to the Pigs head. It revealed things about Simon that he wasn’t even aware of. “You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you?” (Golding 143). When Simon realized that the “beast” which lead to so many of the boys’ vices, was within them all he was punished and ridiculed for speaking the truth. Unfortunately, the other boys on the island failed to remain civilized and aware of their heinous actions, Simons’s role in bringing a level of awareness and stability was overshot by the darkness that in the end, overcame the island.

All of the boys partake in actions that lead them further from humanity and the longer they are without the necessary authority the more drastic their actions become. The boys who started to hunt the pig at the beginning were the first ones to spiral. They felt the need to hunt because they were left to their own devices and Jack, in particular, wanted to prove to the group as to why he should be the leader. Being the leader of the choir was a role that he took pride in and one that he felt enforced his importance. Being stripped from that title was the first step in straying from normalcy, now the boys had to do things differently and have a leader of the island. Jack began to resent Ralph because he was elected leader instead, and although Ralph had the support of the boys Jack tried to instill in them a need to hunt, he stressed the importance of getting the meat and being the leader of the hunters validated his notability. The action of hunting a pig in a traditional sense is quite a primitive one, and the more time he invested in doing so the more the hunt became about the bloodlust. There is Irony in this situation because Jack was one of the first to announce that it was important to have a leader and establish rules. “We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all, we’re not savages” (Golding 42). Jack is also not interested in the group as a whole, he wants the title of being a leader but he doesn't want the work associated with being one.

“‘And I work all day with nothing but Simon and you come back and don’t even notice the huts!’

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“‘I was working too-’

“But you like it!’ shouted Ralph. ‘You want to hunt! While I-’...’ People don’t help much.’” (Golding 53).

Jack is constantly telling Ralph that they need to hunt to avoid building the huts. When Ralph realizes that Simon and he are the only ones helping out with building huts is when the line between civilization and savagery is first drawn. Things begin to fall into disarray because normal responsibilities are no longer being followed.

William Golding's message in Lord of the Flies is a harsh and honest one. One that many choose to ignore.The boy's overall failure to remain humane when they needed it most pointed to humanity's failings as a whole when left to our own devices. The authority that they so desperately needed and the lack thereof was the cause of their misguided actions. When Jack stocked this fire by encouraging the hunt and torture of the pig, he influences the evil vices in all of the boys and encourages their savagery. His primitive nature is a direct result of the lack of structure. Throughout their struggles, on the other hand, Simon remained a beacon of hope and light for the now savage boys. He was their chance to return to civilization and regularity. Once dead, the boys delve deeper into anarchy and disarray and the hope for normalcy is lost.

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Isolations Effect On Vice And Virtue In Lord Of The Flies. (2022, Jun 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved November 29, 2023, from
“Isolations Effect On Vice And Virtue In Lord Of The Flies.” Edubirdie, 16 Jun. 2022,
Isolations Effect On Vice And Virtue In Lord Of The Flies. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 Nov. 2023].
Isolations Effect On Vice And Virtue In Lord Of The Flies [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 16 [cited 2023 Nov 29]. Available from:
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