How does Golding use violence in the novel ‘Lord of the Flies’? In the novel ‘Lord of the Flies’, Golding uses the theme of violence surfacing throughout the text. One reason for this was, Golding believed that every individual has the potential for evil and that the flawed human nature is seen in ‘mankind’s essential sickness’. His belief in this arrived through his time spent in war, so his aim was to challenge Ballantyne’s novel ‘Coral Island’, and in which Golding’s book the truth would be shown about his own thoughts of the darkness of mankind.
As the theme of violence is in the heart of the novel, another reason of this is due to the quick breakdown of civilisation on the island. Through the breakdown, an ideal situation of violence and fundamentally evil humans is set and violence is flourished through conflicts manifesting. The island begins to as a utopia for the boys, ‘the shimmering water’ explores the island as being a paradise and an obvious place of beauty.
However dark traits of the island start to become prominent which begins to open Golding’s theme of violence; the plane crash on the island is described as a ‘scar’.
This implies that before this mark had been left, the island was perfect and untouched whereas now the arrival of the outside world has immediately destroyed its beauty. The use of the word ‘scar’ could also suggest the state in which the plane has arrived from; as the war was ongoing the use of the formidable word shows the ruin in which the world back home was in. Furthermore, this instantly reveals the purpose of the boys arrival on the island, the war has led them to be evacuated so even though the horrors of the island are yet to come, the irony of the barbaric actions back home is introduced.
Another example of the darkness on the island which is already seen is the description of the ‘skull-like coconuts’. In this, Golding compares something commonly related to a tropical island, being the ‘coconuts’, to in contrast be described as ‘skull-like’ which is related to death. Golding uses this to foreshadow the death and destruction on the island which is to follow. Similarly the heat is used to portray how the simple beauty of the island can be disturbed and easily turned into a dystopia. ‘The heat hit them’ implies that the usual attraction of the sun is turned into something negative.
The use of the word ‘hit’ suggests a violent act, and could also infer that the island is already against them as these aggressive images are shown. When the character of Jack is first introduced into the novel, along with his choir boys, they are described as the ‘black bat-like creature’; the use of dark animal imagery foreshadows the potential of mankind’s evil nature coming into play later on. Golding uses the word ‘creature’ to imply that we are not yet aware of Jack’s conceivable ruin of the island as ‘creature’ is usually related to the unknown.
As the choir boys and Jack are almost seen as being one individual through this quote, ‘black bat-like creature’, the presumption that these boys will stick together is made. Jack’s description of his physical appearance is continued, ‘his hair red beneath his black cap’. As the colour red is generally associated with anger and danger, it portrays Jack’s fiery and possibly short temper, and him easily resorting to violence. Within the first couple of chapters of the novel, Golding portrays the needs for civilisation and value which the boys strongly desire, suggesting their early innocence on the island.
The boys want to try and replicate the rules and society of their home life; this is ironic as their life back home was in chaos, following Golding’s idea of ‘mankind’s essential sickness’. When the conch is introduced onto the island, many of the boys take this idea of order extremely seriously. For example, Piggy ‘cradles’ the conch portraying that the shell is of high importance and extreme value, due to the fact that its significance is to represent authority on the island. The conch is then described as ‘glistening’ which implies that the shell is associated with brightness which again shows the great importance of the shell.
The first act of destruction on the island follows the idea of the diseases and fallen human nature, is the pushing of the boulder. After three of the boys have noticed the boulder, they decide to ‘accept the challenge’, which they succeed in doing so. The fact that they didn’t need to remove the boulder from the mountain portrays the fact that the smallest things that the boys notice in their way have to be somehow destroyed. This displays the temptation in which the island is leading them to, as if they are obsessed by the thought of destruction in these early stages.
The pushing of the rock symbolises the naturally destructive instincts that loses the innocence inside the children who are immediate to disturb the harmony of the island, following Golding’s theories. The islands reaction to the rock is through the forest shaking ‘with the passage of an enraged monster’. Golding uses the word ‘monster’ to describe this, to imply that the boys have let out a metaphorical beast onto the island which portrays the evil inside of the boys beginning to become exposed and their evil nature beginning.
Furthermore, this portrays the battle between the diseased mankind and the natural world starting to corrupt the island. However, in contrast to this when Jack comes across a pig, evidentially to kill as he assigned himself the role of hunter, Jack is unable to murder the animal. Golding describes Jack’s thoughts as, ‘the enormity of the knife descending and cutting into living flesh because of the unbearable blood’. This manifestly implies that Jack couldn’t bring himself to do such a violent act of savagery which highlights his still boy-like qualities.
This act suggests that he is still under the influence of his own civilised society, and his actions are reflected through this. Golding’s use of the word ‘enormity’ portrays the greatness of effect the murder of the pig would have had, as to the young boys it is such an outrageous act of savagery. Jack then start to realise his shame in being unable to kill animal, so he says “next time-’, implying that the next opportunity he has, he will be able to kill so that he doesn’t appear weak to the others.
Furthermore, this quote ends abruptly to imply that he is lost in his trail of thoughts thinking about the violence he can cause. The breakdown and order and the ‘illness’ surfacing is shown after the kill of the first pig. After Jack and his hunters have succeeded in their first kill, they come back and describe what they have done ‘proudly, and yet twitched as he said it’. The word ‘twitched’ reveals the old Jack and the other hunters, when they were civilised, as this word shows that they were nervous when talking about what they had done.
To follow this, after Jack had noticed the blood on his hands, he ‘grimaced distastefully’, indicating that he isn’t enjoying the after view of the murder, almost as though he is looking at his hands in disapproval. However, after this hunters then start to boast about the amount of blood, while ‘laughing and shuddering’ implying that they are moving away from their old ways of civilisation, since laughing at killing a pig is obviously an act of savagery. On the other hand, the word ‘shuddering’ portrays that the boys are shying away from the horror of killing the pig because it is the wrong thing to do.
The use of an oxymoron in this implies that they are all moving away from right and wrong as two opposing thoughts are crossing the hunters minds. Golding portrays how the boys have enjoyed their violent act by describing the pig’s life being drained as ‘a long satisfying drink’. Golding’s purpose was to show that the boys now feel power from the kill and that their longing thirst and desire for blood has now been quenched. Golding uses the killing of the sow with references to figurative rape imagery to portray that they have lost the ability to distinguish between what is morally right and what is evil.
The deliberate use of sexual imagery also implies that all of their innocence is lost as it is such a huge act of evil, therefore all ties with the rules of society have been lost. The killing of the sow becomes more abusive as time passes on, and the boys start to become obsessed with it, as ‘wedded to her in her lust’, showing how fulfilled the boys are becoming during this act of violence. The use of the word ‘wedded’ portrays how there is no turning back since they are tied to the kill of the sow through their desire to cause disturbance on the island.
Golding uses this act to emphasise his main theme of the novel as it is such a monstrous act committed by young boys to show that anyone is capable of escalating to evil. In addition, the sow is originally describes with her family, ‘her belly was fringed with a row of piglets’, this could also portray that the mother pig represents the innocent families being killed back home. This is ironic as the boys are desperate to return home, but both places are now exactly the same due to the lack of civilisation.
While the savage act is taking place, Simon’s presence causes the ‘the butterflies to dance’ as the ‘sow collapsed’. This shows the contrast of Simon causing the butterflies and peace nature to take place, whereas the other boys cause the collapse of the pig, portraying the difference between Simon’s tranquillity and the boys’ brutal violence. This also implies that the peaceful environment was destroyed through the killing of the sow and the harmony on the island has been destroyed. The dance throughout the novel becomes more and more violent as the text progresses, which again shows the illness starting to surface.
As the dances took place to re-enact the killings of the pig, the idea of using a littleun was introduced into the dances which become more frequent. This portrays that the ‘dances’, to fake kill, have almost become an activity of leisure, which gives the implication that their desire to kill will not be fully satisfied until a human is murdered. The death of Simon began through the idea of a ‘dance’. Golding uses the weather and the technique of pathetic fallacy throughout the chapter to show the build up of tension on the island, the tension is then released after the murder is finished.
Also, the uses of the weather’s violence could imply the nature of the island punishing them for their abuse on the island. Considering the weather starts to become out of control, this reflects the boys’ violent behaviour starting to escalate. To start the tension rise, ‘a build up of clouds continued’, suggesting that the ‘build up’ represents the boys’ evil and savagery starting to grow. Before the murder, the boys are described as ‘demented’ which suggests that they are all crazed in extreme spirits so what they are about to do is out of control, therefore letting their savage ways rule them.
To follow this, ‘hemmed in the terror’ again suggests that they are unable to stop as they are trapped inside the chant. Continuing with the song and dance Golding describes it as ‘the throb and stamp of a single organism’. The use of the word ‘throb’ implies that they are inflicting pain which begins as dull and starts to increase as the murder becomes more violent. Golding uses ‘single organism’ to portray that the boys dancing together have become one and they are now unidentifiable as individuals.
They are all united as one due to the fact that they all share the same savage traits and the beat of the dance is starting to control them. Golding then goes on to describe the sky as ‘shattered’, this word implies the breaking down of values and their knowledge of civilisation. Also, the use of the technique onomatopoeia and the result of a harsh sound is used to enhance the meaning of the breaking down society. Golding then goes on to use hell imagery; for example ‘the sulphurous explosion’, uses reference to the sulphur pits in hell to portray that what is happening is a hell-like xperience. Furthermore, as the environment is presented as being like hell the boys are portrayed as the devils in which are forever tortured by ‘mankinds illness’. Another form of imagery Golding uses is animal; ‘screamed, struck, bit, tore’ showing complete regression as they are portrayed as animals since Golding’s description mimics how predators would kill. In addition, ‘no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws’ presents Simon as animal like, which is seen as the ‘beast’; putting the reader in the position of the boys as they think they are killing the beast.
Following this, as the murder is taking place, Simon is described with many names such as ‘a thing’ and ‘it’ which fully dehumanises Simon, causing confusion between the boys. Simon is then named which portrays the boys’ realisation about what is going on and who they are murdering, however they still continue. The effect of the boys still continuing portrays that they are now without conscience since the power of the chant has overruled them. After Simon’s death, Golding uses the sky and water to convey a sense of innocence, ‘the clear water mirrored the clear sky’ which portrays the sky ‘opening’ up.
With this idea, it shows that the opening of the sky is opening the boys’ minds to reason and understanding of what they have done. Golding then goes on to use the idea of a funeral to portray an essence of beauty and show the importance of Simon. ‘Sculptured marble’ and ‘silvered cheek’ give images of a funeral to show that because of Simon’s goodness, nature takes away his body in this way, almost as though the island is reclaiming him. To add to Simon’s importance, the use of precious imagery, such as ‘pearls’ and ‘silver, implies how valuable Simon was to mankind, so therefore his death ends peacefully and with respect.
Simon is then portrayed as a Christ like figure, ‘the body lifted’, as he was planning to ‘spread the word’ and he died believing what was right. The use of the word ‘body’ is unidentified to show that the soul has been ‘lifted’ and only the body left. The boys’ response to the killing is shown in, ‘figures staggered away’. The word ‘figures’ is used so Golding doesn’t clearly point out who was involved and they are no longer individuals as it was the whole of the society which murdered Simon.
Furthermore, the use of the word ‘staggered’ portrays as though they are in a daze about what they have done and they withdrew themselves with realisation of their actions. To conclude, through Golding’s ways in portraying the escalating violence on the island, we have learned about the breakdown of civilisation and the essential sickness which is within mankind. The boys on the island progress from civilised children longing for rescue, to violent hunters who have no desire for authority.
They naturally lose their sense of innocence, ‘they wept for the end of innocence’, through the inherited evil and savagery that has existed inside of them. This portrays the rescue was not a moment of definite joy, for Ralph realises that even though he was saved from his forthcoming death, he will no longer be the same; Ralph has now understood the evil that lurks within all human beings. Golding’s purpose of Ralph’s despair was to portray the existence of evil instincts hidden within mankind, even when authority is present. This shows that civilisation can temporally stop evil, but violence always has to come into play within mankind.
Cite this Lord of the Flies Violence
Lord of the Flies Violence. (2016, Oct 13). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/lord-of-the-flies-violence/