Machievelli in "The Lord of the Flies": The Power of Fear

Essay by alamodeHigh School, 10th gradeA+, October 2006

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Throughout history, there have been many different opinions concerning the type of leadership that would lead to a successful society. In "Lord of the Flies" by William Golding, a group of civilized boys are left on an uninhabited island with no adults to guide them. The boys must choose a leader and form a society. As the novel continues, it becomes clear that the boys' attempt at forming a society is fruitless. This leads one to contemplate the type of leadership that would lead to a successful society, a topic that philosophers such as Plato, Machiavelli, and Wills have debated for thousands of years. Niccolo Machiavelli was a 15th century philosopher whose main belief was that a good leader must be feared by his people. Machiavelli's theory on leadership is by far the most effective, as portrayed through "Lord of the Flies".

One of the main points that Machiavelli made on leadership was that "It is safer to be feared than to be loved" [Machiavelli, 6].

When a leader is feared he may be certain that his followers will submit to him, while if a leader is loved his subjects may turn against him with no consequence. This suggestion is bolstered by Machiavelli's statement, "...and men have less hesitation to offend one who makes himself loved than one who makes himself hated" [Machiavelli, 6]. Followers will not rebel against a leader that they fear because they are frightened of what may happen to them as a result. However, these same followers will not hesitate to turn against a leader who m loved. This idea is exemplified in the novel Lord of the Flies. Just before the older boys venture out to look for the beast, Ralph argues with Jack about the 'littluns':

"'...what about...