Analysis of the Jack Character from Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Flies by the British author, William Golding, is a compelling dystopian novel that explores the inherently evil nature of human beings and their fascination with power. The novel was published in 1954, reflecting the impacts of the Second World War on humanity. The author’s perspective on life and worldview significantly changed after World War II. The lasting impacts of the war on the political and social orders of the world influenced the setting and the primary message of Lord of the Flies. The war exposed the sense that humans are savage and power-hungry, explaining why they are mostly drawn to wars. Golding utilizes a group of young boys of varied ages stranded in a jungle to explain the troubles that arise when everyone wants to govern themselves. The main conflict is between the self-proclaimed leader, Jack, who is determined to control the group, and Ralph, whose main concern is the group’s safety. Through Jack’s character, the author efficiently illustrates what happens when limitations of civilization are unavailable, and human nature takes control. Jack evolves from a civilized schoolboy to a power-hungry savage that cares less about his actions and other people’s welfare. Through Jack’s character transformation, Golding effectively explores the nature of human beings, savagery, and civilization.
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Jack’s viciousness and desire for control efficiently explore the inherently evil nature of human beings. The story creates and explores a community that tests human nature in the absence of the constraints of the rules that normally govern society. Golding shows a transformation from civilization to complete chaos when human nature takes over reason. The boys are left in an uninhabited jungle to fend for themselves and, most importantly, create a rule of law to govern themselves. This vacuum of governorship creates the opportunity for Jack to illustrate the flaws of human nature when given power (Spitz, 1970). Piggy informs the group leader, Ralph, that Simon claims to have seen a beast in the jungle. Ralph asks, “He says he saw the beastie, the snake-thing, and it will come back tonight?” Piggy replies, “But there isn’t a beastie!” (Golding, 1954). Jack’s group believes there is a beast that inhabits the pig head that they stake into the ground as an offering. The beast is a supernatural figure that symbolizes the inherently evil nature of humans because it represents a savage monster present in everyone (Jurošević-Kozomara, 2018). The potential for evil and violence exists in the heart of humans, and that is why Jack seizes the opportunity to disrupt Ralph’s leadership for his selfish gains.
Savagery and Civilization
Civilization is the crucial aspect of humanity that keeps in check the potential of evil. Jack does not recognize that he is blinded by his obsession with power and control over others. Prior to their unexpected landing in the uninhabited jungle, Jack was a leader of the chorus group. However, in this new environment with no civilization, Jack enjoys the control and influence he has gained (Chavan, 2013). He only enjoys the rules and laws because he can issue orders and punish those who disobey him. When his group goes out to hunt, Jack commands, “Kill the pig! Cut her throat! Spill her blood!” to exert his dominance and control. (Golding, 1954). Golding reiterates the feeling of domination that Jack’s group felt after killing the pig. He states, “His (Jack) mind was crowded with memories; knowledge that they had outwitted a living thing, imposed their will upon it.” (Golding, 1954). Chavan (2013) points out that this ascendancy demonstrates the nature of human beings when given the opportunity in the absence of civilization. Jack mirrors the human inclination toward power and dominance and the result of wielding power for one’s own fancy and benefit (Jurošević-Kozomara, 2018). Jack’s outlook and perception of leadership change from a dutiful follower to a leader who believes in dominance. His love for hunting and killing animals in the wild can be attributed to his desire to dominate nature and other people.
Jack’s character is a reflection of humanity’s pursuit of imposing their view, perception, and rule onto others. Jack easily gets frustrated when he does not get things going his way. His defiance of Ralph’s orders results from his anger and frustration of not imposing his view on the group. Simon recognizes that the beast lives within everyone’s heart and tries to tell jack’s tribe. He states, “What I mean is…Maybe it’s only us..,” implying that the potential of violence lies within all human hearts (Golding, 1954). Jack’s group views Simon as the beast as he challenges their viewpoint, getting him killed. According to Jurošević-Kozomara (2018), this savagery portrayed by Jack illustrates the vicious impulses lying deep within every individual, suppressed by civilization. Ralph’s leadership is cultured conversely to Jack’s authority and demand for submission. The lack of civilization forces Jack’s darkest impulses as a savage to sprout in the disguise of demanding obedience.
Evidently, Jack’s character in Lord of the Flies efficiently explores the innate evil nature of humanity and the impacts of a lack of civilization in society. Jack’s desire for commanding and oppressive power illustrates how humans surrender to their darkest impulses when given the opportunity to impose their rule on other people. Civilization clearly forces humans to suppress the savagery and the potential for violence that lies deep in the heart of every human being.
- Chavan, P. (2013). Subversion of Civilization in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. European Academic Research, 1(7), 1516-1526.
- Golding, W. (1954). Lord of the Flies: Casebook Edition. Penguin.
- Jurošević-Kozomara, M. S. (2018). Civilization and savagery in William Golding’s Lord of the flies. Reči (Beograd), 10(1), 156-167.
- Spitz, D. (1970). Power and Authority: An Interpretation of Golding’s” Lord of the Flies.” The Antioch Review, 30(1), 21-33.