In Lord of the Flies, William Golding characterises the boy from innocent children who have just been deserted on an island to murderous savages who have gone to a darker side. William Golding makes it seem that humans, if not controlled or looked after, can go to a darker side of themselves.

Rousseau contradicts Golding’s thoughts and thinks that humans when they were first in Nature, were civil and innocent. As we evolved, we became selfish and savage, because we wanted to be like others and since they were selfish, we were too. In the novel, the boy’s main source of their development is Jack.

He manipulates the boys into agreeing with him, triggers their savagery, and torments them with threats to their life. Jean-Jacques Rousseau states in his social contract theory that man started off as innocent people and as civilization developed, they became selfish. William Golding depicts the boy’s social development on the island as innocent children in a new environment to selfish and savage because of Jack’s savage influence, which we can relate to Rousseau’s social contract theory.

Jack triggers the boy’s savagery by making them perform ritualistic practices. Whenever Jack goes hunting, he chants his song which makes him exhilarated and savage. As the boys sing it, they get the same effect, they even circle a boy who acts to be the pig and act out the killing. Rousseau says that when we evolved, we started to compare ourselves to everyone and imitate them.

When the boys pretend to hunt, using Roger as the pig, they all chant and dance as their savagery increases. “The chant rose ritually, as at the last moment of a dance or a hunt. ‘Kill the pig! Cut his throat! Kill the pig! Bash him in!’ Ralph too was fighting to get a handful of that brown, vulnerable flesh. The desire to squeeze and hurt was overmastering.” (Page 142)

By Jack starting a ritualistic practice, the other boys join in because they want to fit in. Rousseau says that when society started to develop, we all started to imitate each other because our surroundings started to evolve as savages, we became savage. We can easily see, that when Jack starts to chant and dance, the other boys start to imitate what he is doing and even become bloodthirsty like Ralph. All the boys are imitating Jack and as they do, they become savage as Rousseau states about society.

Golding characterizes Jack’s control of his tribe of hunters as savage and barbaric. Jack himself is savage, he transforms them to be savage and barbaric. They only hunt for themselves and do things that benefit them, which contradicts Rousseau’s belief in working to benefit the community.

Jack dictates to the boys what to do and says this to show he has the most power. “Jack was waiting for something. He whispered urgently to the others. ‘Go on-now!’ The two savages looked at each other, raised their spears together, and spoke in time. ‘The chief has spoken.’ “(Page 174) Golding didn’t characterize Jack as someone to be equal with others and think about what they want.

He characterized him to be selfish and be the only one with a voice that matters. We can instantly see that he has wanted this for a long time. Rousseau says that a community where everyone is equal is more functional Jack completely contradicts Rousseau’s idea’s by making them do things that they wouldn’t want to do but do it out of fear. He could be depicted more as Hitler, who was a dictator who killed many, than as a leader who works with the community and gives everyone a voice.

Jack’s savage nature reaches its peak when he threatens SamnEric’s lives. Jack is desperate for information on Ralph as he is exiled, and Jack wants revenge. The only people who know about Ralph’s whereabouts are SamnEric, and instead of treating them like equals, which could reflect Rousseau’s social contract. Instead, he threatens them with his life. “At last he heard a voice- Jack’s voice but hushed. ‘Are you certain?’ The savage addressed said nothing. Roger spoke. ‘If you’re fooling us…’ Immediately there was a gasp and squeal of pain.” (Page 236)

Rousseau says that everyone should be equal, and Jack contradicts his theory by exiling Ralph, instead of giving him a punishment for the actions that have offended him instead of putting Ralph’s life on the line. Also, threatening SamnEric’s lives so that he could get information, he could’ve treated them as equals, but because he has reached his peak of savageness his mind thinks of savage solutions instead of civil solutions. Jack then again contradicts Rousseau’s beliefs of treating everyone as equals.

In conclusion, Jack’s influence on the boys led them to be savages who out of fear does what he says. Jack never gave them another option and they probably didn’t want to know what it was. Jack completely contradicts Rousseau’s ideal picture of a sovereign and only represents how as society starts to evolve and we imitate each other, we become savage and selfish.

author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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