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The Hangman’s Horror: Roger, Sadism, And Psychopathy In Lord Of The Flies

1933 words - 8 pages

With an understanding of the inherent darkness in all men and first-hand experience with savagery and violence in World War II, William Golding used Lord of the Flies as not only a historical allegory and a pulpit from which to address the darkness in all men, but also as a metaphor and a example that no one is exempt from human nature. Golding’s characters in Lord of the Flies reflect this idea greatly, but none more so than Roger. Throughout Lord of the Flies, Golding uses the character of Roger to show the follies of mankind and the ability of all people to turn to savagery, as well as the inherent nature of man and society’s internalized acceptance of violence, stemming from Golding’s own experiences with the subject. Golding created Roger to be an extension of Jack’s own personality; Roger externalizes Jack’s internal sadism and amplifies his lust for power over others. From the beginning of the novel to the end, he exemplifies the sadism of the savages on the island and catalyzes much of the violence that goes on throughout, from the viciousness of the pig hunts to the premeditated death of Piggy. While not being a central character in Lord of the Flies, and while remaining a primarily static character throughout, Roger becomes a pivotal example of the disintegration of the human condition and the ability of all men to turn to cruelty when presented with the opportunity and put in circumstances that foster anarchy and violence, such as those that the boys find themselves in in Lord of the Flies. Through a use of complex psychopathy, a disintegration of societal morality, and violent imagery and symbolism, Golding shows that, while everyone is potentially civilized, humans are essentially savage by nature.
Roger begins the novel as a stoic, silent boy, smaller and weaker than Jack but “with an inner intensity and avoidance and secrecy,” (Golding 20) that makes him highly unapproachable. He keeps to himself rather than mingle with the other boys and the only reason he opens his mouth in the first few chapters is to mutter his name and then fall silent again. In chapter four, Roger’s sadism and intimidating personality starts to surface in the form of knocking over the littun’s sandcastles on the beach and throwing rocks at Henry. His physical appearance has changed and his long, grown out black hair “seemed to suit his gloomy face and made what seemed at first an unsociable remoteness into something forbidding,” (Golding 55), creating a much more intimidating figure than he had already been, his unkempt appearance adding to his unapproachability and furtive personality. However, this chapter also shows that he is fully “aware of the lingering social conditioning” (Koopmans) of his life before the boys were stranded on the island;
“Roger stooped, picked up a stone, aimed, and threw it at Henry – threw it to miss. The
stone, that token of preposterous time, bounced five yards to Henry’s right and fell in the
water. Roger...

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