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Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe and Lord of the Flies by William Golding

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In this essay I will be comparing two texts. One pre-twentieth century and one modern text. The books I have chosen for this are “Robinson Crusoe” by Daniel Defoe (pre-twentieth) and “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding (modern text). The reason why I chose to compare these two texts is because they are very similar. They share many features mainly that they are both castaway narratives. Throughout my essay I will be looking at several things which show how the books are similar and where they are different.

These are; setting, plot, behaviour/motivation of characters, and the narrative style. These two texts share one main factor and that is theme. The different themes that both texts contain are to do with Social status and leadership, Damage and destruction, Nature, society and Hope. I will analyse how these elements are dealt with in terms of each text’s social and historical context. Both books have a similar plot which basically a civilised person has to survive in tough conditions and being stranded on an island.

At the beginning both texts introduce the main character. In “Robinson Crusoe”, this is Robinson Crusoe and for “Lord of the Flies” this is Ralph. Both of these characters are seen as strong characters, Ralph is presented as strong because he takes charge of the boys as well as trying to keep law and order by making rules, which the “conch” symbolises. Ralph is seen as a leader and is presented as a figure of authority when he holds the symbolic conch: “Him with the shell” “Ralph! Ralph! ”

This shows that everyone wants Ralph to lead the group people seem to be excited due to the exclamation marks they repeat his name implying that no one else will do. Robinson Crusoe is also seen as a strong character because he survives miraculously through many disasters. He becomes known as a “survivor” which he shares with the boys in “Lord of the Flies”.

Both novels share the same theme of a person/people stranded on a desert island. Throughout both books survival gets harder for all of the characters and in very similar ways, We couldn’t keep a fire like that going, not if we tried” This is showing that the boys are finding it hard to survive as they can’t even keep fire going let alone hunt, cook and eat food. In “Lord of the Flies” the characters have to find a safe place to sleep. In order to do this, they have to build a shelter. Both sets of characters have to find the right materials and finding it a struggle.

How ever “Robinson Crusoe” is more independent than the children therefore he knows more about looking after himself by making a shelter and finding either to grow food or to hunt it. I walk’d about the shore almost all day to find out a place to fix my habitation, greatly concern’d to secure my self from an attack in the night, either from wild beasts or men… I fix’d upon a proper place under a rock… ” This shows that Robinson Crusoe knows exactly what to do, where and how to do it implying that he will find it easier to survive in such bad conditions. Throughout “Robinson Crusoe” Robinson Crusoe encounters many struggles these have to adapt to a new way of life and learning how to survive.

There is a difference between Robinson Crusoe and the Children from “Lord of the Flies” these are that Robinson Crusoe, due to him being a man and although having to hunt and to survive like a savage, keeps a stable mental condition, a couple of quotes to show this are, “Having now brought my mind a little to relish my condition” “I began apply my self to accommodate my way of living, and to make things as easy to me as I could” This shows that he learnt how to adapt easily and didn’t let the fact that he was against nature bother him.

Whereas in “Lord of the Flies” the children turn from a choir into a group of little savage hunters and are mentally affected by not being in society. Jack is the first who is corrupted by this theme of man against nature and all of the other children follow him except Ralph, Simon and Piggy, but even Simon goes mentally insane and ends up getting killed after being mistaken for a beast. The theme of Law and order is shown more clearly in “Lord of the Flies” than in “Robinson Crusoe”. In “Lord of the Flies” there is something which symbolises law and order and this is the conch.

The reason why the conch is so important is because this is what Ralph first gathers all of the children together with and declares that anyone who has something to say should say it through the conch. Towards the end of the novel, after Simon’s death, Piggy and the conch are destroyed on purpose by Roger his also symbolising savagery. “The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee; the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist. ” This shows and means that the children have either forgotten or chosen to disobey law and order and civilisation.

These novels have been written by different authors and at different times. “Robinson Crusoe” was written by Daniel Defoe before the twentieth century. “Lord of the Flies” was written by William Golding as a twentieth century novel. Both of these books were written in different narrative styles, “Lord of the Flies” is written as the third person narrative where as “Robinson Crusoe” is written as, in a way, a diary. In conclusion, I can say that at the time “Lord of the Flies” was written World War 2 was taking place that is why I think William Golding writes strongly about the themes law and order and nature and society.

I think that Golding was trying to get a message across to people to say stop fighting; the world should be in peace and people should remember that rules are made for a reason. When “Robinson Crusoe” was written in 1719 the author, Daniel Defoe had experienced many things and had a very wide variety of careers of great complexity. He was also captured by Algerian Pirates and took part in Monmouth’s Rebellion. He dealt in ship-insurance, wool; oysters, linen and he became a secret agent, a political pamphleteer and was several times arrested.

So when writing “Robinson Crusoe” and many other great novels he had a great deal to write about. Both of these authors had experienced different things so they had different ideas in how or what it would be like to survive on a desert island. The different ideas that William Golding had were that he thought peace, law and order were in desperate need at the time of World War 2 and when “Lord of the Flies” was written. On the other hand Daniel Defoe felt that the world was in chaos, that survival was hard and that you always had to watch your back.

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