Examine how "Lord of the Flies" draws the readers attention to different facets of the human spirit.

Essay by bigkurtJunior High, 9th grade October 2007

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Through out the Lord of the Flies there are various explorations of a wide variety of themes within the novel, however, the most confronting and arguably most important insight we obtain through the study of this novel, is that of the human spirit. The human spirit is dissected and displayed by Golding using many different creative techniques, although with out a sign of doubt, Golding’s use of characterisation is the most effective in clearly representing the many facets of the human spirit.

One of the most prominent facets of the human spirit represented in the novel is that of fear. The power of fear can be broken down into two distinct categories, direct fear, as is seen in the fear of jack by the boys, and indirect fear, displayed in this particular novel as the fear of the unknown. The first type of fear I will deal with will be direct fear.

Jack is a prolific figure in the terms of utilising fear. Early in the novel it becomes apparent to the reader that jack is a strong advocate of anarchy and obtains control and respect through insighting fear in the other characters. This is seen in the narration from Golding “ His tone conveyed warning , and would not be disobeyed” the effect of the fear instilled by jack is seen clearly in the character piggy. “ an’ when you see him again; it’s like asthma an’ you can’t breath.” The fear of the unknown is represented through the fictitious character of the beast. “He says the beastie came in the dark.” To the boys dark symbolizes the unknown and this “beastie” is the fear of the unknown which is hidden deep in the novel, inside the boys hearts along with the fear of not being rescued, and portrayed in their characteristics.

Through the use of characterisation Golding uses Ralph, the protagonist of the novel, to represent the ego of the human spirit, the perfect human if you will. Ralph’s characteristics portray him to be some one who commits good deeds, though at the same time isn’t so foreign that he cant relate to normal human temptations. As the novel develops Ralph is used again by Golding to represent the human spirit being pulled in separate directions by both arms. Golding show’s the great effort that Ralph must exercise to stay away from the seemingly perfect world of Jack’s in his narrations, “There was the brilliant world of hunting, tactics, fierce exhilaration, skill and then there was the world of longing and baffled common sense.” As the ego of the human spirit he must compromise jack’s idea of , ‘if it feels good do it’ and the super ego, the strict adherence to rules and reason represent by piggy, which brings me on to my next point.

As Ralph’s character represents the ego of the human spirit, Golding uses piggy as a model, Piggy’s human spirit represents the superego. Piggy is needed to represent the order of the adult world, he represents the facet of the human spirit which attempts to make men to act according to an absolute set of standards. He is the brains and reason on the island “How can you expect to be rescued you don’t put first things first and act proper?” It is obvious to the reader that he is unique as he doesn’t like the atavism which is being displayed on the island. This is shown through the constant references to his auntie. Piggy is used again to represent the human spirit in the terms of exclusion of the intellectual “ when I say anything, you say shut up.” Another excellent example of this is the strange phenomenon noticed by Ralph in which Piggy’s hair did not seem to have grown since he set foot on the island. This is representational to the fact that piggy has failed to transform into a savage, hence forth segregating him from the rest.

Mans natural tendency to cause harm to others and there surroundings is yet another facet of the human spirit explored through Golding’s use of characterisation. The true vulgar and sadistic nature of the human spirit can be best seen in the character development of roger. The first quote I will examine in the justification of this statement can be seen in in the early parts of the story ; “Roger gathered a handful of stones and began to throw them. Yet there was a space round Henry, perhaps six yards in diameter, into which he dare not throw…Round the squatting child was the protection of parents and school and policemen and the law.” This quotation is a prolepsis if sadistic events to come and shows that anarchy and savagery has secured its roots and is spreading amongst the hunters minds. When we place this in juxtaposition with the nature of Roger at the end of the novel when Roger’s actions lead to the intentional death of piggy; “ Roger with a sense of delirious abandonment, leaned all his weight on the lever.” Under examination of this quote we see the true sadistic facets of Roger’s human spirit as carries out this act of murder so coldly without any sign of remorse.

A lot of negativity is shown in the human spirit through out this novel however one character seems to be prominent when it comes to courage, reason and logic. His nature is perhaps the most interesting of all. Simon, is characterised by golding as one of the in between boys and as a result of that is alienated from the ‘biguns’. Simon interprets life on a much more serious level and is plagued by a moral concernedness which the other boys do not understand. I believe that Golding uses the Simon’s human spirit to represent a Christ like figure. My justification of this consists of the following. Simon is the only one who is able to communicate with the lord of the flies which symbolises a supreme being. Simon becomes aware of the truth of the beastie “ Fancy thinking the beastie was something you could hunt and kill! You knew didn’t you? I’m apart of you…” Most importantly however, is the act of Simon giving up his own life to communicate to the rest of the boys the truth about the beast. This rising action is much like the screen play of Romeo and Juliet. In Romeo and Juliet, it was the mutual that was revealed and how selfless they would be in their actions toward one another. Forces worked against them, and even though they possessed true love they were both defeated by the evil that exists inside mans human spirit. In Lord of the Flies, Simon is the representation of an innate desire to be good and do well by others. He is, however, defeated by the evil and lust for blood that surfaces in the other boys. Although his nature is pure, he dies a death at the hands of despair and a compromising of all rational thought. . This closely parallel’s the life of Christ. Golding makes excellent use of this character to outline the facets of courage and true selflessness which consist in the human spirit.

Through out this essay I have shown how Golding has used the art form of characterisation to portray various facets of the human spirit, from the negative traits of fear and sadism all the way to courage and selflessness. Through this use of characterisation the reader is enabled to embark upon a journey down an infinite highway into the human spirit producing constant crossroads to leave a multitude of the facets of the novel open to the readers interpretation. I believe that nothing could summarise Golding’s impeccable use of characterisation better then a quote from the introduction of his novel. “Mr. Golding’s book is valuable to us not because it ‘tells us about’ the darkness of man’s heart but because it shows it.”