In both Lord of the Flies and I’m the King of the Castle, the plots explore the challenges faced by individuals and the resulting consequences. Both novels prominently feature the behavior and actions of the so-called ‘upper class’, as indicated by their titles of ‘Lord’ and ‘King’. Through their works, both authors critique the discriminatory treatment and exploitation that lower-class individuals endure at the hands of the upper class, who sometimes embody the characteristics of ‘Lords’ and ‘Kings’. Additionally, the writers address forms of discrimination against those considered to be lower class, as well as against femininity in a patriarchal society. The novels also shed light on the marginalization of individuals who possess intelligence and compassion, despite not being part of the upper class.
Both writers explore the challenges faced by individuals perceived to be of a lower social standing. In Hill’s novel, Kingshaw becomes an immediate target of discrimination by Hooper, who represents the aristocracy. Kingshaw’s self-identification as a ‘misfit’ signifies his inability to fit into the upper-class environment. The overwhelming sense of ‘extreme isolation’ experienced by Kingshaw further emphasizes that his lower-class upbringing renders him incompatible with the upper-class society due to his ‘different’ nature. By expressing sentiments like ‘I didn’t want you to come here’ and ‘You do what I say,’ Hooper demonstrates his rejection of Kingshaw and the prejudice he faces, despite their lack of acquaintance. This recurrent usage of the pronoun ‘you’ possibly serves as a means for Hooper to distance himself from Kingshaw, branding him as ‘different’ and attempting to isolate him.
Hill’s novel critiques the closed-mindedness of the upper classes and their negative impact on society. Likewise, Golding’s portrayal of Piggy in his novel demonstrates the prejudice and discrimination he endures as an outsider, stemming from his accent, overweight appearance, and lower-class background compared to the upper-class boys on the island.
The fact that Piggy is forced to ‘raise his hand grudgingly’ illustrates how, due to prejudice against him, he cannot express his own opinion and must instead conform to the desires of those in higher social positions. Golding employs this scenario as a microcosm reflecting real-world dynamics, in which the upper class or the British Empire hold all the power while ordinary individuals have none. It is possible that Golding’s father’s Socialist beliefs influenced him, as he seeks to depict the adverse effects of the upper class and advocate for power redistribution to the common people. Golding may use his novel as a prophecy to anticipate future issues with the upper classes, and both authors employ the portrayal of challenges faced by those perceived as lower class to underscore the flaws inherent in the upper classes.
In both novels, the authors explore the challenges faced by female characters. Lord of the Flies depicts the island as possessing feminine qualities, such as trees described as having ‘green feathers’, intricate and ornate, and carries feminine connotations. Likewise, the depiction of the ‘pink granite’ also exudes femininity. However, the portrayal of the plane crash as a ‘scar’ implies permanent damage done to the island, potentially representing the impact of masculinity on femininity. Furthermore, the description of the ‘the great beard of fire’ showcases the destructive power of masculinity. The fact that this fire destroys a significant portion of the paradisiacal, feminine forest demonstrates Golding’s aim to underline the devastation caused by abuse of power and mankind. Additionally, words like ‘eruption’ and ‘inch by inch’ are employed to portray the sexually aggressive nature of masculinity and the oppression faced by women in society, likely reflective of Golding’s perspective.
A potential feminist interpretation of the novel could argue that Golding aimed to emphasize the flaws within a patriarchal society. This can be seen in the portrayal of Mrs Kingshaw, the sole major female character in I’m the King of the Castle by Hill. For instance, Hill presents Joseph Hooper’s statement, “It is nice to have a woman now,” which implies that Joseph only views Mrs Kingshaw as a companion or a sexual object, rather than recognizing her as an individual. Furthermore, Hooper remarks that “she hasn’t got a husband, so she’s got to find one,” conveying the continued existence of a patriarchal society, particularly within the upper classes of British society. This oppression forces Mrs Kingshaw to conform to Joseph Hooper’s sexual desires, exemplified by her decision to “shorten the hem of her skirt.” Hill likely intends to highlight the flaws of a patriarchal society prevalent among the British upper classes through this portrayal.
In addition, individuals who have different views and opinions also face challenges. In Lord of the Flies, Simon is discriminated against for being perceived as ‘batty’ and ‘queer’. However, he is actually more intelligent than the other boys, as evidenced by his statement “maybe it’s only us” during a conversation about the ‘beast’. Since Golding believes that there is an ‘inner beast’ within all people, it is possible that Simon serves as a representation of the author’s intruding thoughts in the novel. Simon’s eventual death could be seen as a reflection of how Golding himself was criticized by the British Government for his beliefs. Perhaps, Golding is attempting to depict how those in power are undeserving and that society fails to appreciate individuals with genuine intelligence.
The novel by Hill reflects this idea to a lesser extent through the usage of Fielding by the boys from Warings. Kingshaw claims Fielding as his own, suggesting that Hill may be portraying how the upper-classes perceive ownership or control over the lower classes. Hooper learning about Fielding is also the triggering factor that leads Kingshaw to eventually take his own life. This implies that Hill might be implying blame on those who bring relief and kindness, and are perceived as lower-class, for the consequences of the upper-classes’ downfall. Essentially, Hill aims to illustrate how the upper classes exploit the lower classes and blame them for their own deficiencies. Both authors criticize the upper classes for discriminating against individuals who are technically more intelligent or caring than them. In summary, both writers depict the challenges faced by individuals who are different and possibly criticize the British upper classes, government, and Empire for these issues.