William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies and Henrik Ibsen’s play An Enemy of the People both contain societies with divergent sides. The sides are people who desire to have immediate gratification with short-term goals, and people who want what’s best for the society with long-term goals. The single most important factor in the downfall of human societies is the conflict between short-term and long-term goals. In Lord of the Flies and An Enemy of the People, both societies have a potential to be a paradise, but in order to have a strong outcome they need to focus on long-term goals and what is ptimal to the people.
Both societies have a majority and a minority with two chiefs or leaders that have different views on one main problem. Most people will side with the short-term or majority because it involves immediate gratification, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the most effective. Complications come about in societies, and in Lord of the Flies Ralph wants to solve the problem. A plane full of boys crashes on an empty island. Ralph meets a new boy, Piggy, and they’re thinking of ways to get off the island. “He’s a commander in the Navy. When he gets leave he’ll come and rescue us” (Golding 13).
The boys just got on the island, and Ralph is already talking about how they’ll get off. Ralph shows his position as an unspoken leader and he assures Piggy that his dad will come to get them. In reality, his dad doesn’t know that Ralph is stranded on an island. Ralph wants to be a leader like his dad is. Ralph and Piggy find the other boys from the plane and discuss goals. “This is what I thought. We want to have fun. And we want to be rescued… Of course we shall be rescued” (Golding 37). One of Ralph’s goals is to have fun, which is an easier short-term priority with immediate gratification.
His main goal is to get escued, which is harder and a long-term priority. Jack, the leader of the choir boys, has a different objective. “I went on. I thought, by myself… I thought I might kill” (Golding 51). Jack’s main priority is to kill and hunt. His goal involves self-interest and tries to make it a goal for everyone, when it really only benefits him. Similarly, in An Enemy of the People, there was a setback and complication with how their conduit-pipes were laid. Dr. Stockmann wants what’s good for the people, and he wants to change the pipes, even if it will take a longer time than the easier, less effective way.
All the conduit-pipes will have to be elaid… The intake is too low down; it will have to be lifted to a position much higher up… I wrote opposing the plans before the work was begun” (Ibsen 170). The pipes were too low and bacteria gathered. Originally they used the cheap and short- term option, but now that it’s become a problem they’ll have to use the long-term option which will cost more money to relay them and it will take longer to do in order for the baths to be clean. Unlike Dr. Stockmann, Peter, the town’s mayor, wants tourists and money.
Peter doesn’t care if the baths are clean are not, because the tourism and money flowing in will only enefit him. Peter wants the short-term goal and doesn’t think of the outcome. However, the last time they used the short- term option they had the pipes grow bacteria. Short-term goals tend to include immediate gratification, but it doesn’t help in the future when the long-term goals would have availed. In Lord of the Flies, Jack insists on doing tasks that involve immediate gratification, but Ralph always focuses on the long-term priorities.
They’d work for five minutes, then wander off or go hunting… We want shelters. Besides, the rest of your hunters came back hours ago. They’ve been swimming” (Golding 1). When the boys on the island follow what Jack tells them to do, nothing gets done. Ralph wants Jack to tell the boys to do work that will benefit them in the long run, but Jack tells him that they need to go hunting. Jack tries to make hunting a goal for everyone, but it only benefits him. Ralph and Simon are the only boys building huts for shelter or in case of a storm.
Ralph wants what’s best for the boys on the island, but under Jack’s appealing leadership, the boys continue to follow him. Likewise, in An Enemy of the People, Hovstad, Billing, and Aslaksen follow whoever is more appealing, like Peter. They refer short-term goals with immediate gratification, like the boys on the island in Lord of the Flies. Peter is similar to Jack, because they both have goals that benefit them. “If I perhaps guard my reputation somewhat anxiously, it is in the best interests of the town” (Ibsen 185).
Peter believes that what he’s doing is helping the town, but it’s only helping him. Just like when Jack didn’t help Ralph and Simon build the huts because he was too busy hunting. Jack thought it was fine that he wasn’t helping build and that hunting was an advantageous task. Dr. Stockmann knows that if the baths are clean, then people won’t et sick and eventually tourists would come. “It is I who have the real good of the town at heart! I want to lay bare the defects that sooner or later must come to the light of day. I will show whether I love my native town” (Ibsen 189).
Dr. Stockmann wants everybody to benefit from the long-term priority of his. He doesn’t care how long it will take, as long as in the end everyone is content and safe with the baths. Most of the town wants to side with Peter, but they don’t know the consequences of the short-term goals like Dr. Stockmann does. There’s a majority and a minority in Lord of the Flies, and the ajority follows Jack and his short-term priorities. Ralph wants a few boys to light a signal fire, but it keeps going out because the boys all leave to go hunting with Jack.
Jack thinks that Ralph’s concern about the fire is irrelevant. Keeping the fire going is not one of Jack’s priorities or goals. He doesn’t want to leave because he has power on the island. The boys want to be with Jack because their inner savagery comes out when they hunt and the feeling of instant gratification thrills them into staying with Jack. Ralph is attempting to focus on the long-term goals and build huts with the boys because he notices a storm rewing. Jack distracts the boys from helping build by dancing and chanting. Jack successfully takes their minds off the storm.
Comparably, Peter obtains Hovstad, Billing, and Aslaksen, and they join his side. His short-term goals appeal to them, because the cost is high to fix the baths, like how the cost of fun and hunting attracts the boys to Jack. Also, time is an appealing factor because if they leave the baths as is, they’ll receive immediate gratification. Peters reputation and public relations is important for him to keep because he knows that the short- term in the end will be a longer outcome, because people will ome to the baths, get sick, then never come again.
One of the most important factors in the crash of a society is short-term versus long-term priorities and goals. In Lord of the Flies and An Enemy of the people, both Ralph and Dr. Stockmann know what’s best for the people and are willing to work hard even if it means achieving the goal might take longer than desired. Jack and Peter enjoy immediate gratification and have self-interest which moves people to be on their sides. Although immediate gratification is appealing, in the long run the long-term goals will be more helpful and effective than the short-term goals.