Self Versus Collective Interest in British Politics as Portrayed in the Lord of Flies Essay

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  8
Wordcount:  2022 Words
Date:  2022-07-06

In William Golding's novel, the Lord of the Flies, the story goes about a stranded group of British boys, who make all struggles to manage themselves in an inhabited Island. The book applies various themes including, civilization, communal organization, leadership and savagery. One theme that comes out clearly amongst them is the conflict between self and communal interest. It comes out in a composite balance between group decision making and tension, emotional and rational responses and a contrast between morality and immorality. Relating to this, this paper connects the theme, as portrayed in the novel, to the actual conflict between self and collective interest in British politics.

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Why do some people/leaders neglect the interests of their subjects and decide to pursue self-interest to all extents? Rational thinking suggests that it happens so because people join leadership primarily to seek status, protection, money and other rewards. It may also happen because, after gaining the leadership status, the person would want to protect the position at all costs. Another line of reasoning suggests that the quest for power by some individuals is for revenge, norm, and focus on the activity rather than results. This paper explores the unmerited search for status, power and money in the modern British political society and connects this to the story Lord of flies by William Golding. At the end of the discussion, it will be clear that in as much as a leader may be so self-oriented; the wills of the community will eventually prevail. The paper also makes it clear that any leader who only favors personal interests is predestined to fail.

The Plot

During the evacuation of families at wartime, the crush of a British plane in an inhabited Island in the Pacific Ocean leaves a few adolescent boys as the only survivors. Two new acquaintances, Ralph and Piggy, use a conch to assemble all the survivors at a central place. Because it appeared that Ralph was majorly responsible for gathering the survivors, they decide to elect him Chief of the group, though he missed the votes of a singer group chaired by Jack Merridew. As chief, Ralph says his main agenda is to have fun as a group and to make every effort to alert passing ships of their presence, using smoke signal and the conch.

Jack's group takes the mandate to seek food for the team, and everybody is responsible for keeping the fire burning to maintain a smoke signal. At night, it is Sam and Eric, twins, who man the fireplace. However, too much play allows the fire to burn out of control and sets the forest ablaze, and one of the youths disappears, assumed to have burnt to death. Also, the playing mood lets the smoke signal to burn out gradually, and eventually dies, and thus they miss a first chance for being rescued when a ship passes across the horizon. Ralph approaches Jack on this, but since Jack has just had his first successful hunt, calm returns, but Jack is furious at being accosted this way, and hits Piggy in the face.

Inspired by Jack's hunting success, the boys now set out on an even more ambitious hunting expedition, and success is enhanced. They call a meeting at the Island to discuss their status as a group, but the meeting only makes their fears more open and pronounced. They get scared of the possibility of a monster who hides in the ocean during the day, intending to haunt them at night. Sam and Eric even scare the team further when they claim that the Monster attacked them when it was actually a parachutist, who was shot in the sky at wartime, who had fallen near them at the fireplace.

The increasing disagreements between Jack and Ralph are worrying, but they still head to hunt for the Monster together. They climb up the mountain, where they spot the outline of the fallen parachute and conclude that it is simply a monstrous shapeless ape. They call an urgent meeting, which sadly becomes the source of discourse in the group. Jack accuses Ralph of being a coward and requests the group the vote him out of his leadership position, but the group declines. Jack decides to run back to the beach and convinces part of the group the erect a new fireplace at the beach. This activity makes some of the group members to slip to join Jack's team; the group splits into two.

Jack organizes a coronation ritual, where they, together with his new team, slaughter a pig and sacrifice it to the beast. Even Ralph and Piggy find themselves at the party. One of the boys, Simon, has been having wild dreams, and makes conversations with what is thought to be the Lord of the Flies, who says he is in danger, and may be killed, for he lives in every man's heart. When Simon returns to the tent where the party is, the boys mistake him for their dreaded monster and beat him to death. This event later haunts the thoughts of Piggy and Ralph, but Jacks uprising is getting even stronger and scarier.

Jack decides that Piggy's glasses, which are used to make fire by focusing rays from the sun, are the only genuine show of power in the Island, and not the conch. He then raids Piggy's tents and grabs the glasses. With maturity, Ralph and his team visit Jack's camp, to try reasoning things out, but Jack attacks them. One of Jack's boys rolls a rock that kills Piggy, but Ralph manages to escape the blurry of appears aimed at him. He hides at the forest, but Jack burns the forest to smoke him out, forcing him further to the beach. Jack's team begins to hunt for Ralph like an animal, intending to kill him. At the beach, Ralph faints; but wakes up to rescue when he finds a British army officer standing next to him. The whole team than meets the officer, who rescues them all (Golding, 2012).

The End Of Innocence

Aleksandra Solzhenitsyn hinted that the separating line between good and evil passes through the heart of every human being, but the side that dominates depends on his interactions with other people (Assis, 2005). The story brings forth an end of innocence, where, when faced with the quest for power, human beings, no matter their age, abandon their innocence and tend to seek the betterment of self. This creates a battle with the others who still possess their innocence and still try to fight for the common good (Singer, 2012). The battle between self and common interests in the story is highlighted in the discussion that follows.

In the beginning, the whole group embodies a mob mentality; one group member picks and idea and the rest follow. For example, during their hunting expeditions, the groups always sought food for everyone. The boys who guarded the fireplace did it for everyone's good, and those who engaged in building also did it to shelter everyone. But as Jack breaks off from the main team, his new team, now with a false feeling of oneness, decide to shed off their innocence. The new team, inspired by Jack's outrageous ambitions, feels invisible and protected by the mob spirit. It became important for them to remain together, to protect each other and their leader. The children could now contemplate doing things they had previously never considered during their innocent times alone.

It is worth noting, however, that for some of the boys, the end of innocence came against their individual wills. For example, Jack had captured the twins, Sam and Eric, and tortured them into submission and eventually joining his tribe. They had tried their best to be loyal to the moral Ralph's team, but against their will, found themselves in the rebel's camp as the only way to survival. This shows a conflict between personal and communal interests in the boys' hearts. The only options they had were to join Jack's team and remain safe, or stay with Ralph and be hunted like animals. Since they chose survival, they had to surrender their individuality.

Generally, majority of the boys had joined the rebellion, and did imprudent things just for the impulse of wanting to be part of the group, and not on individual compulsion. As the story begins, most of the boys are not even capable of killing pigs when they go hunting, but as the group pressure mounts on them, their individual conscience gets overpowered, and they both join in a desire to kill Piggy and Simon. This is a classic example of how people succumb to the pressure from peers to do evil things, but still culminates in the point that this group responds to the teachings from one egocentric character, Jack; who cares about nothing but his individual delight.

Self versus Collective Interest in the Lord of the Flies

Majorly, the conflict between self and common interest comes out in the strikingly different habits of Ralph and Jack. Jack's relationship with his fellows exemplifies a selfish and power-hungry approach to life. Contrastingly, Ralph's approach was of a collective effort to secure the rescue of all the survivors. Ralph embodies cooperation and providing a helping hand whenever needed to reach the ultimate aim of the whole group, while the interests of Jack are clearly those of an unwarranted seek for self-gratification and self-satisfaction while being completely oblivious of the status of the other group members. His love for power and authority makes him lead to the murder of his colleague Piggy, the injury of many and great damage to the forests (Hinman, 2013).

As a group, the boys encountered many challenges at the Island. First was the scare of the Monster. As a leader, Ralph made all efforts to secure his teammates, he also always sought order, reason and calm in the group at all times, He was generally industrious and motivated the hunters to ensure the team gets food. On the other hand, Jack saw the problems facing the group as an opportunity to become powerful; he splits the team into two and launches a deadly insurgence against Ralph and his team. He enthrones himself as the new leader of the team and eventually seeks to kill Ralph.

Jack is thus evidently the representation of the evil side of man. Having been used to leading his choir, he has exercised some degree of control in the past, and when adversity pushed him to show evil, he does it ruthlessly. Importantly, he likes setting rules, which he also breaks whenever they conflict with his person interests. His main passion, hunting, also involves killing other creatures for personal gain. Thus, eked out by his emotions, he notoriously develops an overwhelming urge to kill or destroy anyone who disobeys his rules, all in an effort to further his individual ambitions. Due to a developing guilt in him, Jack decides to tell a flurry of lies to his team all the time to keep his control and command.

Ralph, on the other hand, portrays what would be preferable in the modern world. He embodies true leadership and administration skills. He is the civilized, sharply socialized, intelligent and charismatic leader that any society would want to have. He is a thinker with extraordinary common sense, he conceptualized the use of the conch as a horn, the idea of huts, a fireplace and the need for meetings to have an organized society. True to his leadership ability, Ralph is the only elected leader in the group. When the crisis arose of the fire guards claiming to have been attacked by the monster, Ralph proceeds cautiously but still intelligently manages to keep the hopes of his team members alive.

Self versus Collective Interest in British politics, as portrayed In the book.

Elizabeth Filkin was appointed the British parliamentary commissioner for standards one decade ago, with the role of ensuring clean politics, since there was a spring on dishonorable economic scandals at that time. This was to be done for the good of the nation and citizens. She did her job, and began exposing the cartels behind...

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Self Versus Collective Interest in British Politics as Portrayed in the Lord of Flies Essay. (2022, Jul 06). Retrieved from

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