"Examine William Golding�s presentation of the darker side of "
Examine Golding’s use of symbolism to show how William Golding presents his view that a darker side of human nature exists within man. Identifying key question words Key Question words and ideas have been highlighted throughout the essay to show how relevance to the question is ensured. My Plan Structure for symbolism – deal with each symbol in turn and explain how it conveys Golding’s views about human nature at one or more points in the novel. I this novel you should show the changing importance of the symbols throughout the novel. Into – Symbols important in presenting view that a darker side to human nature exists Conch – mention that its power fades as the novel progresses – show how a) start powerful b) Less powerful when Jack starts to reject it c) Destroyed completely at the death of Piggy Fire – mention that it, like the conch, acts as a barometer for the boys’ nature a) Starts as a symbol of hope, togetherness b) Goes out to show loss of hope/abandoning of civilised valued in faour of hunting c) Re-ignited at the end but with a different purpose – highlights savage tendencies and overall messages. Beast – mention that its prominence increases as the novel progresses a) Littluns only ones who believe in the beast at the start b) Older ones believe and offer a sacrifice c) The Lord of the Flies and what it signifies d) The killing of Simon and what it shows about the prominence of the beast The demise of Ralph and the growing power of Simon as symbols. – no time/essay too long. a) Start – Ralph dominates b) Jack gains power over Ralph c) Jack hunts down Ralph. Conclusion – sum up how symbols help to highlight that a darker side to human nature exists. Structure Point – Topic sentence linked to the essay task Context – When in the story a particular incident happened (important to include this to contextualise evidence). Evidence – Usually quotation (aim to include at least one per paragraph. Short quotations should be integrated whilst longer ones should be isolated) Comment – analysis and evaluation of evidence linked to the essay question. You may wish to include a concluding sentence that sums up your points linked to the task) Linking Words Reference to Q – Symbolism Reference to Q – Golding’s views on human nature Title Author Genre Ref to Q Summary Ref to Q – Signpost approach Essay Throughout the novel “Lord of the Flies”, William Golding closely examines the darker side of human nature using a variety of symbols. He illustrates how a civilised society can quickly become savage if rules are ignored. The novel begins by introducing a group of school boys who have been stranded on a remote island after a plane crash. At first the children seem to cope well with the lack of adult supervision and they manage to create a democratic community. As the novel develops, the boys begin to realise that living on their own with nothing to survive on but fruit becomes tiresome; they realise that they must hunt to achieve a substantial meal. This is crucial as the hunting of animals seems to bring out a primal instinct in the boys and it is not long before savage behaviour sweeps the island and they begin hunting their fellow humans. Analysis of Golding’s expert use of a range of symbols will show how Golding conveys his view point – that when societal constraints are removed, we will revert back to our natural instincts and the darker side to human nature will emerge. The first key symbol in the novel is the conch – a large shell. The way in which the conch is introduced at the beginning of the novel stresses the boys’ tendency towards civilised behaviour. Having been brought up in a democratic community at home, the boys’ first instinct will be to create a similar democratic society on the island. We are introduced to two boys, Ralph and Piggy, standing in the middle of a beach. At this point they are seemingly alone. The boys then discover the conch which they decide to blow to call out to any other survivors of the crash. This attracts the attentions of the other boys who were on the island: "Immediately the thing sounded. A deep harsh note boomed under the palms, spread through the intricacies of the forest and echoed back...” With the sound of the conch echoing around the island, the boys then start to walk towards Ralph and Piggy. The conch is a symbol of civilisation as it brings structure and organisation to the boys as it is what brought them together. By bringing the boys together, they can discuss what to do next and what rules should be put into place. The conch also has a role in determining who becomes leader; given that Ralph was the one who blew the conch, the boys see him as the natural leader of the tribe. His election is confirmed and Ralph continues to preside over the island society for some time. He instils the rule that whoever has the conch can speak. This, once again, highlights that conch is “ever so valuable” and must be seen as a key symbol for civilised values. However, though civilised values prevail at the start of the novel, we see these erode as the story progresses; Indeed, the power of the conch on the island seems to diminish on a scale that mirrors the change in the boys from civilised to savage. Noteworthy is the fact that when Jack first creates his own breakaway tribe, we see him denounce the power that the conch previously had. At this point in the novel Piggy reprimands Jack’s actions by explaining that “I got the conch!” when Jack interrupts him to speak to the group. However, this plea is ignored and Jack shows his contempt by saying “Conch, conch…we don’t need the conch anymore”. Clearly the power of the conch is diminishing though, as it remains in the hands of the civilised group of characters, it continues to be a symbol for the democratic values that were once held in high esteem on the island. Nevertheless, we soon see the symbol of the conch destroyed at a moment that coincided with the ultimate death of civilised values on the island. The conch is destroyed following Ralph and Piggy’s pilgrimage to Castle Rock where they aim to speak to Jack to retrieve Piggy’s glasses. Piggy, who is standing further down the mountain and holding the conch, becomes the target of Roger who rolls a boulder from the top of the rock and it strikes both Piggy and the conch: “The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee; the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist.” Here, we are left in no doubt that the conch and the values it stands for have been completely destroyed and the fragments it has been smashed into can never be repaired. We find a sense of despair in this notion that is appropriate for the novel when we consider that Golding is purporting the view that darkness exists within man. Clearly the death of Piggy and the destruction of the conch suggest that a darker side is present in the nature of man. A symbol that performs a similar function in the novel is that of the fire. The fire, like the conch, can be seen as representative of civilised values such as cooperation and hope. The signal fire is built and lit on the island at the command of Ralph who notes they must ‘help them find us…we must build a fire’. In doing this Ralph shows awareness of the need to attract attention to the island in order to escape back to the civilised world. The fact that this fire can be viewed as a sign of hope for the boys shows that they have yet to abandon the societal constraints that are, according to Golding, enabling the boys to remain civilised. However, the signal fire is soon allowed to go out and so we may recognise that it too acts as a barometer for the boys’ behaviour on the island as it is extinguished just as the first true signs of savage values emerge. The fire goes out because Jack’s group, charged with maintaining the fire, elect to go and hunt instead Led by the sinister head choir boy, Jack Merridew, the hunters abandon the fire as they are driven by their lust for savagery. They extent of their savage behaviour is highlighted in that they re-enact the killing of the pig by gathering around one boy and screaming “kill the pig. Cut its throat”. At this point it is clear that the hunters are no longer the innocent children they were at the start of the story. Thus, we may appreciate that the fire is a symbol for the boys’ demise to savagery; when lit, the fire is a sign for civilised behaviour, however, when extinguished the fire shows that hope is gone and a darker side of human nature has come to the fore. Interestingly, a fire of sorts is reignited at the end of the novel as Jack decides to set the undergrowth alight as a means of smoking out Ralph; it is clear that this is a very different fire from that lit at the start of the novel. It is ironic that the lighting of this fire brings about Ralph’s safety as having been chased by Jack’s tribe; he emerges on the beach to be met by the safety and protection of a naval officer. The adult presence on the island reassures Ralph that he will be safe but he also reflects on what the experience has taught him about human nature: “Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.” This shows that Ralph has come to terms with the fact that a darker side of man’s nature exists and this is brought out when man is removed from the societal constraints that he has grown up with. It is the re-emergence of the fire at the end of the novel that brings about Ralph’s rescue and his realisation about human nature. For this reason, we may see Golding’s use of a new fire at the end as a key symbol in allowing the reader to understand his messages about human nature. Another important symbol in the novel is the beast. Unlike the other symbols, we see the beast’s prominence increase as the boys’ savage tendencies emerge. From the start of the novel, the littluns think that a beast is lurking in the forest. Eventually, other characters believe that it exists too so the hunters decide to leave a gift for it in the form of a sow’s head. Jack’s hope is that “we’ll leave some of the kill for it. Then it won’t bother us maybe”. The very fact that the boys’ escalate to leaving the beast a gift, essentially a sacrifice, is reminiscent of practices in savage cultures and so this emphasises the boys’ descent from civilised values. However, the true symbolic importance of the beast in the novel is only revealed when Simon stumbles upon the sacrifice in the clearing. The sow’s head is now swarming with flies and Simon imagines that it speaks to him in the voice of “The Lord of the Flies”. Simon then becomes aware that the beast does not exist in physical form but the beast that should be feared is the evil that lies within man’s heart, the same evil that is quickly manifesting on the island. Clearly, the symbols of the beast and the sow’s head are important in conveying the notion that a darker side to human nature exists within man. Indeed, Simon’s epiphany leads to one of the most shocking incidents in the novel – an incident that confirms the symbolic significance of the beast. Simon returns to the camp to tell the others what he has learned but he is confronted by the boys who are still high from the violence of re-enacting the slaughter of the pig. They are blinded by the dark nature that lies within them and they mistake Simon for the beast. They descend on him “tearing at his flesh with bear hands and teeth”. Golding’s description of the incidents indicates that the boys literally adopt the qualities of a beastly mammal that is capable of murder. The fact that they kill Simon shows that a darker side of human nature exists and, as Golding would argue, being away from civilised society can make man regress to this behaviour. Overall, William Golding effectively conveys the idea that humans are indeed born evil and the structures that exist in society make us civilised creatures. We see the conch, fire and beast take on varying levels of significance at different stages in the novel and we note that their changing prevalence can be seen as representative of the boys’ nature. Analysis of the symbols has allowed me to appreciate that the boys’ moral fibre deteriorates as they spend more time on the island and so we recognise the novel as effective in conveying Golding’s view that a darker side to human nature exists. Concluding Word Sum up your argument Ref to the question Respond directly to the question