William Golding's Lord of the Flies
"After all were not savages, we're English and the English are best at
everything." - Trace the decline of civilisation during the novel.
In this novel we can see the disintegration of reason and
civilisation, which is inversely proportional to the rise of
hedonistic ideas and savagery. We can also see that the island is a
microcosm of the rest of the world, which is also disintegrating due
to the nuclear war which is being waged. Also the 'littluns' in the
novel represent the general public of the world and Piggy is the
symbol of reason. So therefore on both the island and outside there is
a conflict between instinct and reason. So as the island is a
depiction of the whole world we can see from the start the
inevitability of decline. From the title quote we can see irony, as in
England civilisation has already broken down as they are at war.
Even at the beginning of the novel we can see the contradicting ideals
of Ralph and Jack which seems to suggest an eventual split. We can see
that from the start Jack promotes himself as a very instinctive figure
and when he renames his choir as "the hunters" he shows his desire to
pursue pleasure, whereas Ralph's plans promote the less desirable idea
of rescue with sacrifices of pleasure. Therefore we can see that Jack
is going to appeal to the "littluns" (Who in this novel are a
representation of the general public on a world wide scale) as they
act on impulse with a keen liking for pleasure. As they are young
children they show no regard for sensible and logical ideas such as
So we can see that order is threatened and put to one side in favour
of pleasure. For instance on Page 37, we can see that as soon as the
concept of making a fire is proposed Jack leads the children off up
the mountain in ignorance of the current meeting and the other issues
that Ralph wanted to address;
"A fire! Make a fire!'
At once half the boys were on their feet. Jack clamoured among them,
the conch forgotten.
'Come on! Follow me!"
So we can see the boys' immediate desire to bend rules and make the
most of the absence of adults. We can see the first disobedience to
the rule of the conch and the civilisation it stands for. On Page 37
we can see this desire to be mischievous in the absence of control and
order. When they find a huge rock that is teetering on a cliff edge;
"The great rock loitered, paused on one toe, â€¦. , and smashed a deep
hole in the canopy of the forest."
From this we can see how the boys enjoy the power they feel through
creating turmoil and this shows how their instinctive feelings can
On Page 29 Jack gets his first taste of a "hunt" but the taboo of
spilling the pig's blood is too great and he can not find the
willpower to kill;