Lord of the Flies: Natural Selection and its Finest - Charles Darwin Essay Example
Charles Darwin was a famous scientist whose most famous studies were the evolution of man and all other creatures - Lord of the Flies: Natural Selection and its Finest introduction. Darwin realized that certain species became extinct because they were not both strong physically and mentally, and he explains his theory which is called natural selection, and later claimed the phrase “Survival of the fittest.” This phrase can be seen through war as well as the aftermath of a war. World War II proved that the strongest bodies and minds survived, and in England the strongest had to stay strong for more than a decade after the war because they had to rebuild everything, including the way society acts. Many literature pieces were written in this time period, and none were more famous than William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. This novel is about a group of British schoolboys whose plane crashed on a desert island, and the boys just have themselves. The boys start as civilized at first, but at the end of the story, most of the boys lose their control and some are killed right before they get rescued. William Golding uses his characters Ralph, Jack, Piggy, and Simon in his 1954 novel Lord of the Flies to show that one must be strong physically and mentally in order to survive because they are meeting the needs of Darwin’s theory of natural selection.
To start off, Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England in 1809, and he was born into a wealthy family with well-known ancestors. His father was a doctor, and he wanted Charles to be one; however, Charles was disgusted by surgery when he saw it, so his father decided to push Charles towards a career in the church. Like the medical field, Charles was not interested in the church, but he gained an interest in the natural world when he studied for the church. He went on a field trip led by geologist Adam Sedgwick, and when observing the world, Sedgwick saw something special in Darwin, so he introduced him to botanist John Stevens Henslow. Henslow invites Darwin on a five-year expedition to explore the world beyond South America and into the Pacific. Darwin was an unpaid naturalist, and his job was to make geological and biological observations, and each day he learned more and more about the world. After his expedition, Darwin’s life became dedicated to finding an explanation of his observations. After some more research, Darwin concluded that those who possess a certain characteristic that gives them an advantage in competition will outlast those who are inferior, and the superior species
will pass on their traits. It took awhile for Darwin to finalize his thoughts, but in 1859, Darwin explained his theory in his book On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. Leonard Bruno summarizes Darwin’s natural selection theory by saying, “An organism such as a person may have traits that make them superior for an environment than another person may have. Therefore, the more ‘fit’ person has a better chance for survival” (402). Darwin’s theory is known as the theory of natural selection, but Dennis O’Neil says, “Darwin did not invent the idea, but he carried out necessary research to document findings and make the idea believable.”
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Next, Darwin’s theory of natural selection first took off when Darwin went to the Galapagos Islands on his expedition on the HMS Beagle, where he found 14 different types of finches. These finches had variations in their beaks, and Darwin came to the conclusion that some finches had a different variation that made their beaks more suitable for the food in their environment. These beaks allowed them to stay strong and the birds were able to reproduce to pass on their trait. Eventually, the finches with inferior beaks would die off and become extinct. Darwin then went on to conclude that nature selected the best adapted varieties to survive, but the variations already existed, and the environment did not change the variation itself. Darwin used the phrase “survival of the fittest” to explain his theory; however, the phrase was first used in 1851 by a British philosopher Herbert Spencer. The phrase is also misunderstood, because people think that the “fittest” is the strongest or biggest or smartest person, but that may or may not be true.
In Lord of the Flies, Ralph has the mental toughness as well as good physical status to survive the island. Sara Constankakis describes Ralph as, “The protagonist of the novel. He struggles with leadership, but he always keeps a positive message. Ralph is smart, for he knows what to do, and he always listens to Piggy even though he betrays him and is not a friend of his.” Ralph is the boy with the most strength in the mind, and he uses both of his attributes and he survives. For example, Ralph knows what to do when he finds Piggy after the crash. He gathers all the boys up and they meet everyone and elect a chief, in which Ralph is named chief. Ralph
understands the situation, and he needs all the other boys to understand, so he says, “I’ve got to have time to think things out. I can’t decide what to do straight off” (23). Ralph wants the boys to know that all decisions will take some time, just like all political actions. Ralph needs to make sure he knows that he makes the best choice and that the choice benefits all of the boys more than it would hurt them. To continue, another reason why Ralph has the strongest mind is that he cares for everyone, including the littluns. He wants to make sure that the littluns feel safe and protected. When Ralph and Jack are arguing about hunting and shelters, Ralph says, “We need shelters because of the [beast]” (52). Ralph knows that the screams and cries he hears at night are the littluns fearing the beast, and he knows they will feel more safe if they have a shelter because it would feel like a home to the littluns, and they can always go into the shelter and hide from the beast. The last reason why Ralph survives because of his mentality is his optimism. Ralph is always an optimist because he thinks they will be rescued eventually, and he uses his optimism to cheer up the other boys. Throughout the story, Ralph always mentions his dad, who is a commander in the British Navy. In the beginning, he tells Piggy, “He’s a commander in the Navy. When he gets leave he’ll come and rescue us” (13). Ralph knows his dad will find him with his Navy group, and Ralph knows that the Navy knows that the boys are missing. Ralph’s dad seems to have told Ralph to always stay positive, because no matter where Ralph is or what situation Ralph is in; the Navy will always be there to help him. Ralph survives in the end because of his mental toughness, but also his fair physical status.
Another character who survives is Jack, who is the most physically fit on the island and he has good mentality until he loses it. Constankakis describes Jack as, “The leader of the choir. His obsession for power starts at the beginning, for he nominates himself for chief. He is the leader of the hunt, and power gets into his head and he goes crazy for hunting. He was a friend of Ralph’s but wanted him killed to eliminate the power.” All Jack can think about it hunting and finding food to eat. For example, after losing the election for chief to Ralph, Ralph still has Jack as the leader of the choir, and Ralph would like to know what he wants them to be. Jack answers, “Hunters” (23). Jack has his mind on hunting, so he wants his choir
to do the same. Jack knows that if his group of hunters can kill and find food, the boys can be there for a long time and have a good chance of surviving. Another example of Jack’s desire to hunt is after an unsuccessful day of hunting, Jack returns to Ralph who is building the shelters. Ralph is upset that Jack did not catch anything and he or his group of hunters did not help Ralph and Simon build the shelters. Jack says, “We want meat” (51). Jack repeats that multiple times throughout the argument because he knows that eventually the boys will be sick of the fruit and other edible things and that they can possibly run out of these items, so bringing in meat will be a different taste and the boys will enjoy that and boost their confidence that they can hunt more. However, all the hunts increase Jack’s physically being, but they also decrease his mental status. Jack starts to lose his mind and starts to act like a savage because his mind is on killing. Jack separates from the group and towards the end the majority of the boys are on his side. They killed a pig, and during the night they had a special feast. A creature comes out of the bushes while they are celebrating, and the boys think it is the beast, so they start attacking it. When they are attacking, Jack leads the boys in a chant, “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood” (152). The boys keep chanting as they attack what they think is the beast. They do not realize until the next day that they were clawing and biting Simon, and they killed one of their own. Jack was able to survive because of his physical strength as well as his ability to think like a leader which he lost.
However, there are two characters that lacked either the physical strength or the mental toughness and did not survive. Constankakis describes Piggy as, “The most mature character in the novel, which leads to scorn and hatred from the other boys. His physical limitations makes him view the world as an adult world, and he is the power behind the power,” and she describes Simon as, “The most gentle of the boys. He is driven by his curiosity of the island and he often volunteers to do tasks. He fears the beast, but he states that the beast might be within the boys. His disconnection to reality is seen through his seizures.” Piggy lacked the physical strength and Simon lacked the mental toughness. For example, Piggy could not do much because of his physical status. In the beginning, the narrator describes Piggy as,
“shorter than the fair boy and very fat” (7). Piggy even realizes that he is not physically fit, saying, “My auntie told me not to run on account of my asthma” (9). Piggy cannot do any physical activity because his asthma will start up and he will have difficulty breathing and his chances of dying increase, and it is already hard enough for him to move around a lot because he is fat. Piggy also wears glasses, and without them he cannot see. Piggy did have an upside, being one of the smartest and wisest boys on the island. He came up with a bunch of good ideas such as blowing into the conch shell and forming a meeting. On the other hand, Simon was the opposite of Piggy, who was physically fit, but was not in the greatest mental state of being. Simon was the only boy who worked with Ralph in building the shelters, and Ralph says, “We have been working for days now” (50). This means that Simon is physically able to do labor for a long period of time and he does not complain about it. But Simon’s mind was never wise, as he always wandered off to his spot, where he would claim to have gone to the bathroom area. In addition to wandering off, Simon always feared the beast, and whenever it was brought up by the boys, he would always get into the conversation. Simon also started to hallucinate, for he talked to the lord of the flies and he started to faint all the time. In the end, both of the boys die because of their deficiencies. Piggy died because a boulder knocked him off a cliff in which he fell to his death. Ralph got out of the way of the boulder, but Piggy had his glasses stolen and he could not see. Simon was killed by most of the boys because he came crawling out from the bushes and the boys thought he was the beast. Simon never spoke up or made an effort to prove to the boys that he was not the beast, and the boys’ savaged minds did not realize in time and therefore Simon was killed and the shore washed him away. Piggy and Simon did not have both the physically strength or the mental toughness and they were killed and did not survive.
In conclusion, William Golding uses his characters Ralph, Jack, Piggy, and Simon in his 1954 novel Lord of the Flies to show that one must be strong physically and mentally in order to survive because they are meeting the needs of Darwin’s theory of natural selection. If a person has both qualities, then they will prove that Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true and that those who lack one attribute will not survive. Research and
development of genetics essentially proved Darwin’s theory, and there are still many people who doubt his theory even though it has been proven by many scientific experiments. If everyone in the world can achieve both attributes at a superior level, then the human life span will increase dramatically and the human race will get stronger and stronger through each generation.