So I wrote this timed essay an I was wondering if anyone could have a look at it? it's written for National 5 (Scottish qualification), but it would be great to get a few tips
“Choose a novel or a short story or a work of non fiction which explores an important theme.
By referring to appropriate techniques, show how the author has conveyed this theme.”
William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” is a deeply disturbing and revealing novel. Writing in the midst of Cold War paranoia, Golding has attempted to convey the darkest aspects of mankind’s aptitude for (and attraction to) evil. The novel narrates the tale of a group of young schoolboys stranded on a desert island paradise, who soon turn on each other in united fear of a mythical “beast” who terrorises their dreams. Through characterisation, key moments of drama, language and symbolism Golding explored the theme of underlying savagery in deeply ingrained in the boys, who even at their most savage are startlingly childish and human.
At the opening of the novel the boys are presented as polite, diligent products of their civilised society. They crave democracy, immediately deciding that they “ought to have a meeting,” where they “vote for chief”. The boys’ immediate craving for order reveals their childish, almost constrained nature which causes them to revert to what they’re used to. In this chapter the conch is introduced; it is used to call meetings and becomes a constant symbol of democracy and order which contrasts the boys’ increasing aptitude for savagery and decreases in value as the novel progresses. Here, Golding introduces the boys’ deep rooted sense of civilisation and law as they crave a structure within which they will live, and an eluted leader to follow. They also make regular references back to their “old lives”; Ralph acknowledges that they’ll have to follow rules “like at school” and the other boys agree. This reveals that the boys initially gravitate automatically to a structure which makes them feel safe and secure, which is in this case school.
However, as the boys begin to settle into life on the island Golding very quickly reveals the fragility of civilisation and the strength of savagery by exposing the increasingly strange thoughts and behaviour of the boys. As some of the younger boys play, Roger becomes fascinated by watching them and attempts to confuse Henry by throwing rocks — to miss — in is direction. However, “there was a space round Henry… into which [Roger] dare not throw… Roger’s arm was conditioned by a civilisation that knew nothing of him and was in ruins.” Roger’s behaviour is clearly intended to be mean and tormenting towards the much younger Henry. However, without necessarily realising it Roger is being held back by the behaviour he has always been expected to uphold; he is acting as his civilised world would expect him to. Despite this, Roger’s actions foreshadow that his behaviour will become increasingly savage. He was still intending to torment Henry, and found this behaviour fascinating and enjoyable. This temptation clearly represents the beginning of society breaking down: it is implied that society’s constraints on all of the boys are lifting. The use of a previously innocuous character such as Roger as a representative of constrained evil is effective because it introduces the idea that savagery is universal, belonging inside every person.
Golding further exposes the conflict between good and evil (and the rising danger of savagery) through tensions between the characters of Ralph and Jack. At one stage the boys avoid rescue when a ship passes because Jack (unknown to Ralph) has taken the majority of the group out hunting, and thereby let the fire out. As conflict over this issue rises, Golding summarises the boys’ collective belief that “there was the brilliant world of hunting, tactics, fierce exhilaration, skill; and there was the world of logic and baffled common sense.” The use of four factors advocating Jack’s beliefs and only two for Ralph’s echoes the boys’ perception that following Jack would have far more benefits than attempting to uphold the laws of civilisation. The description of the two ideologies and “worlds” further emphasises the separation and isolation between Jack and Ralph’s ideas, and also mirrors the moral significance of the internal conflict between good and savagery in the boys’ subconscious. The boys are still choosing to abide by civilised rules, but they have begun to allow themselves to succumb to the temptation of savagery and evil. This foreshadows the eventual triumph of savagery.
As the novel progresses a growing number of boys choose to join Jack’s tribe of savages, who eventually worship the beast and allow their mob mentality to control their behaviour (with fatal results). Simon is murdered by the boys in a moment of adrenaline-fuelled panic, as they mistake him for the beast. Simon is described as being “on its knees in the center, its arms folded over its face.” The constant referral to Simon (the Christ-like symbol and representation of faith and kindness) as “it” — and the fact that the boys believe he is the beast — exposes how savagery will demonise and objectify every aspect of humanity, making kindness appear detrimental and undesirable. Simon is not referred to by his name until the end of the passage, as Golding describes how “Simon’s dead body moved out towards open sea.” Re-identifying Simon by name shortly after his death suggests that, as a result of savagery, people will act impulsively and only realise the consequences after it’s too late. The death of Simon symbolises the point of irreversible moral decline for the boys. It marks the end of good and peace, allowing for the eventual triumph of savagery.
Towards the climax of the novel, Golding marks the loss of order and reason through the death of Piggy and the smashing of the conch. At the same moment Piggy was crushed by a boulder, “the conch explode into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist.” The moment of the conch smashing marks the total loss f order and democracy in the boys’ lives. Furthermore, the description of “a thousand white fragments” and the death of Piggy implies the irretrievable nature of the loss of order. Golding describes the boys’ view of the dead Piggy by writing “his head opened and stuff came out and turned red.” The childish description of Piggy’s death reiterates that the boys in this move; are young children, which adds to the disturbing and shocking nature of the novel while also reinforcing the central message of the text that everyone has savagery inside them. Golding uses Piggy’s death and the smashing of the conch to strengthen his argument hat savagery is destructive (having destroyed all that is ordered or good on the island), and will affect every human being if the constraints of an ordered society are removed.
Throughout the novel, the boys morally decline from “boys” to “hunters” and eventually to “savages”. The temptations of savagery slowly but utterly consume every aspect of their behaviour, erasing any trace of logic or faith in their hearts. Their eventual rescue comes at a great relief to the reader, but leaves no doubt in our minds that these boys have an immense capacity for evil. Golding’s novel is a beautiful and desperate attempt to urge the reader against the instinctive pull of evil and hatred, in favour of love, justice, trust and faith; the traits that turn us from savage to human.
Nat 5 English essay- thoughts? (Lord of the Flies)
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- 25-04-2016 21:36