LEADERSHIP IN ‘LORD OF THE FLIES’
Posted by: Write My Essay on: August 30, 2017
In William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” two of the strongest characters are Ralph and Jack. These characters both have many of the traits that makes them leaders. The group needed a leader, and as it turned out, it was the civilized ways of Ralph against the brutal savage ways of Jack. By the end of the story, Jack stands out as being more of a leader than Ralph because savageness is more valuable than diplomacy in the case of surviving the elements.
Ralph is the novel’s protagonist. He is elected as the leader of a group of boys who are stuck on the island. As a 12-year-old, Ralph has to deal with many of the difficulties of being young and inexperienced, as he attempts to lead the group. “We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all, we’re not savages. We’re English, and the English are best at everything,” (Ch. 2). He tries to coordinate the efforts of the boys to build a small civilization on the island. The group needs to have the necessities of living, as they try to buy time before they are rescued. While Ralph is more symbolic of civilized people, Jack is more of a savage, which represents that dark side of humanity. Jack is definitely the antagonist in the novel. He is one of the older boys in the group and eventually becomes in charge of the hunters among those who are stranded. But he isn’t satisfied with just leading the boys to try to find food. Instead, he wants to be in control of the entire group, as he longs for complete power. This longing drives him to become barbaric and wild. “He began to dance and his laughter became a bloodthirsty snarling,” (Ch. 4). He is cruel to the others, and this cruelty progresses along with the novel. Jack becomes very manipulative, and this represents the instinct that people have in them – one that shows mankind as savages. This is in direct contrast to the civilized nature of Ralph.
The dynamic between these two characters is interesting. While Ralph is chosen by the groups as being the leader, it is he who then decides to appoint another one of the boys, Jack, and designates him as the leader of the hunters for the group. From the start, it was Ralph who had most of the power of the leader, but many of the character traits that Jack showed throughout the novel made him more of a leader than any of the other characters. That is because he was able to keep the group alive. It was the savage nature that he possessed that, when it came down to it, was more valuable than the diplomacy of Ralph.
When Ralph and Jack set out to explore the island, the leadership skills of these two boys really come to the forefront. Gradually, it becomes obvious that Jack’s brutal nature makes him a savvy leader. After the boys have explored the island, they return to light a fire after Ralph insists that it is a necessity in order to attract ships that could be moving past. The most important feature of these two boys in assessing their leadership skills is what they are focused on in the attempts to survive on the island. It is clear that Ralph and Jack are the leaders in the group because unlike the other boys, who are playing and not paying much attention to the necessities for survival, they are both focused on ensuring the survival of the group. For example, Ralph says that the group should be focused on maintaining a single fire throughout, and building huts for them to have shelter. Meanwhile, Jack is continually attempting to catch a pig, even though the group of hunters have failed.
Ralph assigned the hunters to keep watch on the fire in order for it to burn out, and when he notices that a ship was passing and the fire hadn’t been maintained, he became furious at Jack. But Jack and his crew had just returned from catching a boar, and he doesn’t give much notice. When Piggy becomes mad at him, he strikes her. This is where Ralph shows some of his leadership savvy, as he makes a speech that was an attempt to restore order. This leadership skill that Ralph displays sets him as possessing the gift of leadership speech. But many of the leadership skills that are possessed by Jack become utilized when the group begins to think that there is a monster lurking about the island. As it turns out, the leadership of brute force was much more valuable in this situation. “They were glad to touch the brown backs of the fence that hemmed in the terror and made it governable,” (Ch. 9). When a couple of the boys think they had been attacked – due to the fact that they heard strange noises – Jack leads the group of hunters to find the monster. At this point, Ralph and Jack are increasingly becoming at odds with each other, and Jack’s declaration as the leader of a new tribe of hunters. “Which is better – to have laws and agree, or to hunt and kill?” (Ch. 11). This tribe would eventually be in opposition to Ralph and his people, who have lost their minds and have killed Simon with their teeth and hands. In the end, it is the Jack who ends up being the leader, as he has managed to have a more loyal following, and he is better capable of ensuring the survival of his group than Ralph did. In this situation, it was muscle over brains that determined who would truly survive, and I think the point of the book was to make people think about the fact that when it comes down to it, survival capabilities are the true factor in ensuring survival.