In William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, we see the basic nature of man to be savages. This idea/theory is illustrated through Jack and his hunters. Throughout the story, Jack splits into another group, identifying themselves as hunters. Eventually, the rest of the boys (besides Piggy, Ralph and Simon) end up joining Jack’s camp. Each camp symbolizing two sides of the nature of man: the civilized and the savage.
Regardless of Ralph’s efforts to be civilized and get off the island, the boys regress to a more simplistic state, that of being savage hunters. Here, Golding reveals that despite our best attempts, the nature of man will always revert to being savages. This state of nature is theorized by Thomas Hobbes’ who wrote the book “Leviathan.” In his book, he hypothesizes that the nature of man has three principles that cause discord; competition, distrust and glory. Discord being the disagreements that breaks the boy’s groups apart, commencing the boy’s journey into depravity.
We see another example of the state of nature of man in Freud’s Psychoanalysis theory. In his theory, each boy falls into a certain personality such as: Oral, Anal, Phallic and Genital. These personalities determine their thought process and how respond to dire situations. These boys are categorized into five different comprehensive traits in Edward Diener and Richard E. Lucas’ theory. The protagonist, Ralph, representing conscientiousness and Jack Merridew, the antagonist, representing neuroticism. These two personalities validating Hobbes’ theory that man’s state of nature is naturally savage even there is some righteousness among the group. In the “Leviathan,” Thomas Hobbes claims that man will and should do whatever it takes to get ahead of his competitor.
In the Lord of the Flies, the group of boys are plunged into a Hobbesian state of nature when their plane crashes on an island with no higher power around (adults). Therefore, no reason to behave like civilized children around each other, the boys quickly descend into chaos. It is only when Ralph, who picks up a conch and blows it, when a sense of civilization is restored among the boys. Ralphs wants to bring order and “… create rules for co-existence and cooperation with other people” (60).
By establishing rules, the boys will create moral laws and lived in a civilized manner. Jack, the leader of the hunters (and choir boys) opposes Ralph’s order by displaying his savage instincts. Jack represents Hobbes’ theory of principles that cause discord. In which Jack will ,” ..
.raise his value in the eyes of others. For those who have disregarded him… by force or cunning subdue other men.
., until he sees no other power great enough to endanger him..
. So if any two men want a single thing which they can’t both enjoy, they become enemies,” (56-57) Both Ralph and Jack want the boys to be under their rule, but only have enough boys for one leader. Through this exchange, Jack leaves the group, along with most of the older boys. With the loss of power and order within Ralph’s group, the boys in Jack’s group quickly revert back to being primitive savages. In Diener and Lucas’ Five Personality Traits, they divide people into five fundamental categories: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism (OCEAN). Ralph and Jack symbolize conscientiousness and neuroticism (respectively).
Conscientiousness meaning ,”competent, orderly, dutiful, achievement oriented and self-disciplined,” meanwhile “angry, anxious, impulsive, and self-conscious”(Personality Traits 8) denote neuroticism. Ralph’s neurosis is evident when he realizes that he was guilty of taking part in Simon’s murder. The day after the murder, Piggy had met up with him when Ralph “stopped.
He was shivering. Piggy. Uh? That was Simon. You said that before. Piggy. Uh? That was murder”(121).
Piggy had realized that Ralph was losing his sense of conscientious and slowly becoming into a savage. Ralph’s sense of order and civilization was restored due to Piggy reminding him to tend to the fire. With Ralph’s loss of innocence, the boys slowly descend to savagery. In Freud’s Psychoanalysis Theory, he explains that as children age, they will develop a personality that defines their actions. These personalities being the id, the ego, and the superego.
The id is driven by the please principle. The superego is being naturally morally good, which intends to please the ego ideal. The ego cooperates with both the id and the superego and ims to please both sections. Golding utilizes the characters of the Lord of the Flies to personify the id, the ego, and the superego.
Jack is a primary example of id, which focuses on immediate and primitive pleasures as opposed to a long-term plan. Jack shows no pleasure in keeping the signal fire alive and spends most of his time hunting. He does not support the rules by Ralph and attempts to turn the boys against him. Jack rebels against Ralph, yelling,” Bollocks to the rules! We’re strong – we hunt! If there’s a beast, we’ll hunt it down!” (Lord of the Flies 79).
His control over the boys leads them further into depravity. Where he overpowered Piggy and Simon(who represent superego), by aiding in their deaths, much like the id can overpower the superego. Ralph’s character embodies the ego. The ego is the rational characteristic of the mind. He focuses on the idea of being rescued and organizes the fire meant to attract the attention of a ship, where they’ll be rescued. Ralph attempts to keep meetings organized and establishes the role of the conch as order.