Imagine being stranded on an island. Your first instincts would be to get shelter, find food ,and to find a way out the island. Being marooned can be a life or death situation. It can bring up new challenges and self discovery. When a group of young boys gets stranded on an island together with no adults, they must learn to live and survive as a group.
Not only must they worry about food and shelter, but they also have to worry about each other and discover what it takes to work together. In Golding’s Novel, Lord of the Flies, the contrasting literary themes of civilization vs. savagery are illustrated through the use of symbols, the dialogue, and visual imagery. William Golding uses many symbols throughout his novel to illustrate the contrasting themes of civilization versus savagery.
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In this novel, the use of the conch represents civilization and order. When the boys first land on the island, Ralph uses the conch to join everyone together. Signs of life were visible now on the beach. The sand, trembling beneath the heat haze, concealed many figures in its miles of length; boys were making their way to the platform (page 18). This shows that at the beginning, the conch automatically brought everyone together, and joined them as a community. Later in the story, the lord of the flies represents the savagery by symbolizing chaos and disorder. After the boys kill a pig, they leave the head as an offering to the imagined beast. As Simon begins talking to the head, it tells him that it itself is the beast.
Later, Ralph encounters the skull of the pig. A sick fear and rage swept him. Fiercely he hit out at the filthy thing in front of him that bobbed like a toy and came back, still grinning in his face, so that he lashed and cried out in loathing. (page 185). This shows that the lord of the flies brings out the beast in the children themselves, and shows that all along, they in fact were their own beast. Golding also uses pieces of dialogue to illustrate the contrasting themes of civilization vs. savagery. In the very beginning, Piggy proves to be the most knowledgeable of the group by trying to keep them in order and civilized. When the group is talking about building a signal fire to be rescued, Piggy says, ‘How can you expect to be rescued if you don’t put first things first and act properly? ‘ (page 45). This shows that from the very beginning Piggy thinks there should be ordered, and a clear plan for anything successful to happen on the island.
Also around this time, the theme of savagery through dialogue begins with Jack. After hunting for the first time, Jack explains to Ralph that he sent his group back while he continued to hunt by himself. ‘I went on,’ said Jack. ?I let them go. I had to go to go on. I”? He tried to convey the compulsion to track down and kill that was swallowing him up. ?I went on. I thought of myself”? The madness came into his eyes again. ?I thought I might kill. ‘ (page 51). This is the beginning of Jack’s transformation from civilized to savage. At this time killing becomes his main priority over everything. Lastly, William Golding uses visual imagery throughout his novel to illustrate the contrasting themes of civilization vs. savagery.
In the beginning, Golding uses visual imagery to represent civilization when Ralph uses the conch to unite everyone together. At last Ralph ceased to blow and sat there, the conch trailing from one hand, his head bowed on his knees. As the echoes died away so did the laughter, and there was silence. (page 19). This shows that at the beginning, everyone came together in a civilized manner and was silent so that they could listen to the conversations that they were going to have. Later in the book, Golding yet again uses visual imagery to represent savagery during the killing of Simon.
The beast struggled forward, broke the ring, and fell over the steep edge of the rock to the sand by the water. At once the crowd surged after it, poured down the rock, leapt onto the beast, screamed, struck, bit, tore. There were no words, and no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws. (Page 153). This shows that by this point, the only thing the boys cared about was hunting, and they would hunt anything they could. This act was only the beginning of murder in this story, and later led to the murder of other boys. In Golding’s Novel, Lord of the Flies, the contrasting literary themes of civilization vs savagery are illustrated through the use of symbols, the dialogue, and the visual imagery. Though in the beginning many things joined the boys together on the island, in the end, things tore them apart more than they would have expected. Overall, this book conveys that human beings are savage by nature, and are moved by primal urges toward selfishness, brutality, and dominance over others.
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