Humanity centers around the moral authority in which the people build a structured society. With the absence of moral authority the structured society degrades to a point where anarchy and disorder rein. When man represses his noble instincts and embraces a life of savagery, it results in the break down of moral authority. In William Goldings Lord of the Flies, Golding portrays a group of young boys marooned on a Utopian world and their struggle to survive; ultimately, the bestial instinct of the boys crushes the struggle to remain civilized changing the Utopia to a Hell.
A large number of boys are marooned on an island that offers them shelter, food, safety, and a beautiful jungle. The boys are forced to create a structured society in an effort for survival. Jack Merridew immediately establishes authority over a portion of the boys. Jacks authoritarian leadership deters the boys from electing him as a leader and they choose Ralph instead. This immediately causes rivalry between the two boys. Ralph struggles to create order and experiences the agony of not being able to convince the boys to act in their own best interests. Ralph stands for common sense and desire for normal civilized life, in opposition to Jacks fierce world of hunting. Because of Ralphs role as defender of civilized ideals, he does not realize until he hunts a boar with Jack and the others the exhilaration that the hunt gives them. Ralph was full of fright and apprehension and pride. I hit him! The spear stuck in(113) After this hunt, Ralph realizes what drives the hunters to live their life of savagery.
Heinous crimes are perpetrated by some of the boys on their fellows as a result of Jacks leadership and Ralphs lack of control. Jack becomes the primary cause of destruction on the island. Jack began as leader of a group of choirboys and ultimately became chief of the hunters. He quickly repressed any noble instincts he once held and embraced a life of savagery. He knelt, holding the shell of water. A rounded patch of sunlight fell on his face and a brightness appeared in the depths of the water. He looked in astonishment, no longer at himself but at an awesome stranger. He spilt the water and leapt to his feet, laughing excitedly…He began to dance and his laughter became a bloodthirsty snarling…(64) This shows how Jack makes the psychological break symbolically by baptizing himself with the blood of a slaughtered pig. Jack represents the bestial instinct of man unrestrained by any rational control.
The novel gives us the message that there exists the propensity for evil in every human being and man must subdue it in order to build a structured society. Jack causes the island to turn from a Utopia into a Hell through his conflicts with Ralph and Piggy. Ralph cannot keep control of the other boys despite the authority he has created to call the boys to meeting and within the meetings using the conch shell. The boys loose interest quickly in projects that must be done in order for their survival such as building the huts. Jack eventually lures the majority of the boys to follow him in a life that leads them to multiple murders. The break down in moral authority can be traced to Jack. When Jack and the boys hunt Ralph as an animal, this portrays the change of the Utopia to Hell. Prior to the hunt, Roger had pushed a rock off a cliff crushing Piggy and the conch shell in his hands.Since the conch shell represented the authority over the boys and Piggy represented the intellectuals this act signified the loss and crushing of authority. In the end, good humanity has been forced into an outlaw existence, and evil is chasing it.
Lord of the Flies shows how brutal people can be to each other. It serves as a warning of mans potential for brutality to his fellow man. Golding portrays a group of young boys marooned on a Utopian world and their struggle to survive. The Utopia ultimately transforms into a hell when the bestial instinct of the boys crushes the struggle to remain civilized. Human nature cannot be changed easily or quickly but knowing our own flaws starts us in the right direction to arriving at a solution.