“Humans are naturally driven by a perpetual and restless desire of power. ” (Thomas Hobbes) Every single human being is selfish and rebellious; it’s an undeniable fact about human nature. Humans will act naturally selfish in a situation without proper order, often leading to the corruption of society.
In William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, the corruption of society is demonstrated through Jack’s attitude towards elements that are necessary for the survival of their civilization. Jack’s opinions in regard to rules, the huts, Ralph, and killing deeply influence the island’s descent into corruption.Jack demonstrates his enthusiasm at the possibility of creating rules because the ability to create and to enforce rules is a prominent display of power, which Jack craves for his own personal benefit. Meanwhile, he is thinking of what he can gain from other people breaking the rules.
Initially, Jack is excited about the idea of the conch and thinks that he can benefit from the authority he could obtain by taking temporary possession of the conch. As they discuss the possibility of being rescued, the conch slowly begins to be forgotten and neglected.Jack demonstrates his disdain and disregard of the conch and the rules that have been established at the feast. He is quick to ignore the rules made by someone other than him, but he embraces his own rules to increase the stability of his own tyrannical autocracy.
After Jack declares himself chief of his tribe, anyone who dares to disobey the regulations set by him is automatically tied up, beaten, or possibly killed. After Ralph confronts Jack about the fact that “all day [Ralph] was working with Simon [and] no one else”(50), it becomes clear that Jack has no interest in the welfare of the island.Ralph attempted to convince Jack that building huts takes a higher priority over hunting. Jack does not listen and goes hunting again, this time, successfully catching a pig.
Jack no longer feels the need to justify his actions by saying that he went hunting because the boys on the island “want meat” (51). Jack and Ralph are unable to understand each others’ point of view, which creates a deep chasm between them, widening with resentment and hostility. Jack’s attitude towards killing drastically changes as the novel progresses. At first, Jack’s conscience stops him from killing a pig.Later on, he is completely immersed in the sensation of killing and hunting. When Ralph, Simon, and Jack first explore the island, they encounter a wild pig that they decide to hunt. Jack was unable to kill the pig “because of the enormity of the knife descending and cutting into living flesh; because of the unbearable blood. ” (31) In humiliation, Jack gives us a glimpse at his violent tendencies by stabbing a tree, claiming that he will kill the pig at the next possible opportunity.
When Jack finally manages to kill a pig, his success is accompanied by repercussion.Jack pretentiously ignores his duties to tend to the fire and instead goes hunting to prove his strength. When he triumphantly returns with a dead pig, chanting, Ralph and Piggy are quick to admonish him. At this moment, Jack begins to resent Ralph. Later on in the novel, Jack, Ralph, and some other boys hunt a large boar. Even though the boar escapes, the boys work themselves into mayhem by chanting, dancing, and reenacting the hunt with Robert playing the boar. The group gets carried away and almost slaughters Robert.
Jack thinks nothing of this fact and even blatantly suggests that they “use a littlun”(115) next time.This demonstrates Jack’s lack of morals. Near the end of the book, Jack feels absolutely no remorse when executing destructive and cruel actions towards anyone who dares to oppose him. When Jack and his tribe invade Ralph’s camp to steal Piggy’s glasses, they also desecrate Ralph, Piggy and the rest of Ralph’s followers.
After this event, Ralph, Piggy, and Sam n’ Eric decide to travel to Castle Rock to demand the return of Piggy’s glasses and to make Jack see reason. At their arrival, Ralph bluntly accuses Jack of being a “beast and a swine and a bloody, bloody thief” (179).This sends Jack into a rage, causing him to attack Ralph “with full intention”(181) to destroy his opponent. Shortly after Jack attacks Ralph, Roger kills Piggy. Jack is completely complacent and disregards Piggy’s death, indicating the end of reason on the island. Since the beginning of the novel, Jack feels resentful towards Ralph because Ralph was voted leader, rather than Jack.
As time on the island progresses, Jack’s selfishness and rebelliousness bring Jack and Ralph “on different sides of a high barrier” (73). Shortly after the novel begins, Jack shows signs of rebelling against Ralph’s orders and acts on his own selfish desires.He leads himself and the hunters away from the duties set by Ralph, who represents order on the island. The development of the island is already delayed and the society cannot operate accordingly. As Jack grows increasingly savage, his thirst for power flourishes to the point that he separates himself from Ralph’s tribe and forms his own. To satisfy his hunger for power, Jack manipulates the littluns’ fear of the beast by exaggerating the great power and immortality of the beast.
Jack’s objective is to force the group into overlooking his acts of savagery and barbarism while reassuring them that they will gain security and protection.Later on in the novel, Jack’s selfishness brings his society to an unsustainable state of totalitarianism. Jack declares himself chief of his tribe and treats his tribe as slaves, forcing them to carry out his wishes while disregarding any other necessities. Jack’s indifference towards the rules, reckless killing, Ralph, and other people’s welfare is the result of a selfish and rebellious attitude that can occur and evolve in a society without proper order. In a way, Lord of the Flies represents our contemporary society. Without laws or morals, our civilization would be as corrupted as the one demonstrated by Jack in Lord of the Flies.