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William Golding’s Lord of the Flies Character Analysis


Ralph is a perfect British boy, decently educated, charismatic and handsome, diplomatic, responsible and civilized. Golding, with his tendency to use the fable structure, gives him a description that nearly matches Prince Charming from some fairy tale, but this “prince” in only twelve years old, so, being smart and diplomatic, he is also just a child. He is able to concentrate on main issues, like the signal fire or shelters, but fails to keep others properly organized and just cannot keep everything in mind, lacking training and experience of adults. This eventually leads to the degradation of his authority. While collapsing at the feet of a British naval officer, Ralph is crying not because he is saved from certain death, but he weeps over his gone innocence, as Golding gently puts it, meaning the discovery of evil lurking in everyone.


Jack Merridew, a chapter chorister, a head boy and, later, a chief of a savage tribe, is an embodiment of evil and violence. The author even gives him red hair, a sign of evil presence in medieval times. He is a zealot of discipline and punishment for rules breaking, but he is nearly the first to break them. Jack’s inclination to hunting shows his wickedness, because, besides having good and practical reasons for it, he enjoys the power over someone’s life too. His skills in hunting and rhetoric win him the loyalty of nearly everyone. He develops into a true tribal chief and dictator, his savages are ready to follow him even into a conscious homicide, and only the arrival of adults puts him back into a place of a twelve-year child, where he belongs in spite of his cruelty and possible madness.


The true name of this smart and intelligent boy remains unknown. He is fat, myopic and suffers from asthma, so other boys feel safe to tease him as they wish. In the novel Piggy represents rationality and wisdom. He also possess the best vocabulary. Not capable to be a leader himself, he becomes a consultant and confident of Ralph, taking this for a friendship. Piggy fails in understanding others’ intentions and feelings, and is sure that everyone should think like him: for example, during the Jack’s raid he assumes that they came to steal the conch, while far more practical savages came to grab some burning branches. He often scolds his mates, stating that they behave like kids, reminding about the discussed or pressing matters, and even tries to get them briefed in psychology, when everyone is scared of the beast. When his glasses is stolen, his sureness in common values leads him to claiming justice and consequential death.


Faithful to fable structure, Golding had distinguished yet another prominent character, Simon, representing spirituality. Simon frequently faints and possibly suffers from a mild form of epilepsy. In Golding’s depiction, he is a visionary and even a prophet of a sort. He is curious, bright-eyed and thoughtful, as well as probably the only one of biguns who cares about littluns by helping them to pick better fruits. Simon likes to be alone, meditating in his hiding place. Other boys think him to be odd, and they are right about it to some degree. Simon has a deep understanding of nature of things, but, being a child and a kind of visionary, is unable to find the words to convey his knowledge. This understanding made him brave enough to explore the beast by himself – an act of true boldness, given his age and physical frailty, not to mention his recent hallucinatory encounter with the Lord of Flies. Simon ends his life like a true prophet, killed by mad savages while attempting to share a revelation with them.

Samneric (Sam and Eric)

The twins represent civilized individuals, easily submitting to collective will. Being well-intended, they are just willing to play by the rules of a person in charge, no matter what these rules are. When they are captured by Jack’s tribe, Samneric almost at once become loyal to him, fearing for their lives. They are an example of characters that would easily slip back into civilization: there is just a set of rules that should be properly observed, and everything is going to be fine.


Cruel and sadistic, Roger does not dream about the leadership and subordinates. He simply likes to hurt. Jack’s dictatorship allows him to unleash his primitive impulses, so he perfectly fits into the position of a hangman and torturer. Any conditioning of civilization slips off him too easily, so he is probably even more evil and mad than Jack.

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