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William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies”

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Both Lord of the Flies and Malachi’s Cove deal with the relationship between humans and nature but ultimately their message is concerned with human nature. Explain and discuss.

Before I begin this essay, I feel it is necessary to give a little background on each of the texts.

“Lord of the Flies” was first published in 1954, just less than ten years after the Second World War. It was written by William Golding (1911-1993). The book is set in a wartime situation, but there is no time or date set, this is left up to the reader to decide. The book starts with the reader learning that there had been a group of boys being evacuated from a war zone who are now stranded on an island somewhere due to their plane crashing.

The group split into two groups, one group led by Ralph who symbolises order and civilisation on the island, and another group led by Jack who is a symbol of evil and savagery.

The book can be seen on many different levels, the first being entertainment. I will talk more of the other levels further on in the essay.

Malachi’s Cove written by Anthony Trollope is about a young girl named Mally Trenglos and her Grandfather called Malachi, or ‘old Glos’. Mally earned a living by collecting seaweed from a cove on the Northern Coast of Cornwall and selling it. There is, however, competition for Mally in the form of the farmer’s son, Barty. He too collects seaweed for a living and Mally does not like this. One day Barty falls in, and it is Mally who has to save him.

We can see that this text is a pre-twentieth century text from the language used in the dialogue, for example, “I doubt whether it be not.”

The descriptions of nature in Malachi’s Cove are frequent and strong. Within the first few lines of the text, the reader already starts to get an image of the setting of the story.

“The cliffs there are bold and fine, and the sea beats in upon them from the north with a grand violence.”

“There was a fissure in the rock so great that at the top it formed a narrow ravine, and so complete from the summit to the base that it afforded an opening for a steep and rugged track from the top of the rock to the bottom.”

Other descriptions of nature in the text are positive, definitely when compared to descriptions from Lord of the Flies. “streaks of red and brown which gave such richness to the cliff” and “white-curling waves”. Mally uses nature as a way of making a living, collecting the seaweed from the sea and then carting it up to the top of the cliff with her donkey. “So Mally and the donkey toiled and toiled, and the seaweed came up in heaps which surprised those who looked at her little hands and light form”

Descriptions of nature in Lord of the Flies take a typically negative tone, “He looked down on the unfriendly side of the mountain.” The boys do not like the island they have been forced to stay on, this apparently makes them not realise the damage they are causing to it, “‘beneath the capering boys a quarter of a mile of forest was savage with smoke and flame”. The island is its own little world, a microcosm which reflects in the great world outside.

The nature on the island is beautiful but at the same time, has the ability to be hostile, fruit giving stomach aches and heat being too strong.

The sea plays a large part in both of the texts, however it plays different roles. In Lord of the Flies, the sea acts as a barrier between the group of boys and the outside world. This could be seen as a good thing, the boys were after all being evacuated from a war zone. The boys however do not see it like this and would like to get off the island at any cost, including eventually the loss of life.

In Malachi’s cove however, the sea is a way of live. It gives Mally the means to make her living and interact with the outside world, totally on the contrary to Lord of the Flies. “There was a rush of the sea into the cove, which carried there large, drifting masses of seaweed”.

Another level of Lord of the Flies is a study of ‘civilised’ society. Piggy noticeably tries to hold on to the idea of a civilised society. He is an outsider due to his chubby appearance and his asthma, but he clings on to Ralph and has strong loyalty towards him. Piggy tries to keep the peace between the two groups of boys when trouble flares up. At the end of the book, Piggy is seen courageously standing up for sense and rational behaviour.

Adam Wilson 11M

English Literature G.C.S.E

Both Lord of the Flies and Malachi’s Cove deal with the relationship between humans and nature but ultimately their message is concerned with human nature. Explain and discuss.

Another level of Lord of the Flies is the study of different aspects of human nature. Golding looks at many different aspects of human nature but goes more deeply into the darker side, for example when Simon is murdered. The boys are seen acting as though they are animals, as though they have become the beast they were so afraid of. Piggy, who represented civilisation is seen joining in with the brutal attack on Simon, as though it gives him some kind of security being part of it. “At once the crowd surged after it, poured down the rock, leapt onto the beast, screamed, struck, bit, tore. There was no words, and no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws.”

Many people would think that the Lord of the Flies is full of dark natured parts with murders and ritual dances but it has some positive aspects of human nature included in it too. Ralph for example is a leader, he shows dependability and responsibility. He does however rely on Piggy to help him think things through and make decisions. Piggy is loyal and therefore does this out of the kindness of his nature. Ralph’s respect for Piggy gradually increases as the book goes on.

Like Lord of the Flies, Malachi’s cove is a lot about human nature. Anthony Trollope explores how humans can be quick to judge other people from their appearance, i.e. how the town’s people have judged Mally on her appearance. “They said that she was fierce and ill-natured, that she had not a good word for any one, and that she was, complete at all points, a thorough little vixen”.

Later in the story, we see Mally rush to the rescue of her enemy and competitor for weed, Barty, when he falls in to the water in the cove. This shows total selflessness and charity on Mally’s part. Farmer Gunliffe however is not quick to thank Mally, instead he accuses her of pushing him in. “If he has come by his death between you, your blood shall be taken for his”.

The main characters in Lord of the Flies can be linked with the different aspects of human nature. Piggy represents loyalty and intelligence. His glasses allow him to see more clearly than the others but they provide something for the others to use against him, almost as if it’s a weakness of Piggy’s. Jack represents possibly a dictator, but he definitely represents strong leadership and manipulation. He challenges Ralph for the position of leader from the beginning because of his obsession with power. Ralph represents dependability, responsibility and courage, physical and moral. Ralph comes to recognise the darkness of human nature. Simon is a Christ figure. He has been linked with Christ from the way he dies and the way he behaves. He is kind by helping the littluns pick fruit and helping Ralph build shelters. Simon realises that the real beast is in the boys and that they must accept that before they are overcome by its power.

The character of Piggy can be linked closely with the character of Mally from Malachi’s cove. Both are judged on their appearance. “The young men did not care for her; for, as regarded dress, all days were alike with her.” “The fat boy stood by him, breathing hard.”

Multiple references to light and dark are made in Lord of the Flies. “Behind this was the darkness of the forest proper and the open space of the scar.” “Feeling curiously defenceless with the darkness pressing in.” “There was blackness within, a blackness that spread”. The references to light in the book represent good and safety whereas the darkness represents evil and the unknown, the forest being a prime example of this.

Lord of the Flies can be seen in many ways as an allegory. There are parallels to the rise of Hitler, Jack being Hitler, manipulative and evil. The conch, which is white, represents democracy, the white showing that it is good. “Fragile white conch still gleamed by the polished seat”. There is a possible religious allegory, Simon playing the role of Jesus. The boys are cut of from mankind, but most of all, from adults. There is irony at the end of the book when we see that they have acted like and displayed all the faults of adults. Perhaps, if they acted more like childish, young lads then none of what did happen, would’ve happened.

Adam Wilson 11M

English Literature G.C.S.E

Both Lord of the Flies and Malachi’s Cove deal with the relationship between humans and nature but ultimately their message is concerned with human nature. Explain and discuss.

I think the message of Malachi’s cove is that people are often judged on their appearances, and people will distrust each other, often for petty reasons, but when someone is in need, differences can be pushed aside for the time being and a kinder side of human nature can kick in. It also tells us, however, that people are quick to judge and accuse because of these differences, even if there is little or no evidence to go on.

Golding works on the idea that society holds everyone together, and without these conditions our morals and beliefs of right and wrong are lost. Without a stable society then another side of man, savagery, can come to light. I think the message of Lord of the Flies is that there are different types of people in the world, some good and some evil, but everyone is capable of both.

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