Lord of the Flies by William Golding

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Compare Jack from the William Golding's Lord of the Flies to Adolf Hitler. 

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Walter Fischer eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Perhaps it's the passage of time, but the true nature and history of Adolf Hitler and of the regime he ruled have been increasingly marginalized in the rush to compare other personalities to his. That is a shame, because the crimes of which Hitler was guilty defy easy comprehension and were so vast and horrible in scale that any comparison, except, perhaps, to Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Pol Pot, does damage to the memory of those who perished under Hitler's rule.

In William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies, the character of Jack represents the dark side of humanity. Unlike Ralph and Piggy, who deliberately seek to retain a sense of humanity, Jack and his followers quickly descend to the most vile, basic instincts of man. Jack becomes consumed with blood lust and leads his faction among the young boys in creating a violent tribal environment. When the effort to hunt down the pig and consume its meat becomes an obsession, he cries out in primal enthusiasm, "Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Spill her blood." In Chapter 5, Ralph and Piggy discuss their concerns about Jack and how the latter holds dangerous grudges against them for their role in controlling the fire and for the simple fact of their refusal to join Jack's group. Jack, in short, is a bad boy. He is capable of anything, and the boys with Ralph know it.

So it is established that Jack represents the dark side of man. Does that equate him, a twelve-year-old boy stranded on an island, with the most reprehensible figure in history? Probably not. Jack's circumstances and his youth clearly separate him from an adult who knowingly conceptualizes a theory of racial superiority, who maneuvers himself to the top of a government, and who proceeds...

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Given that Lord of the Flies was written in 1953, it is possible to make comparisons between Jack Merridew and Adolf Hitler. While one is a fictional character and the other the infamous dictator of Germany from 1934 to 1945, both actively pursued leadership, used fear and violence to maintain control, and attempted to overthrow the existing order.

Both Jack and Hitler actively sought leadership with limited initial success. In Lord of the Flies, an election is called in the early days of the boys’ isolation on the island. Although Jack presents himself as a candidate, Ralph is appointed leader due to his age and role as conch-blower. A similarity exists here to Hitler as after 1923 he also tried to use the parliamentary system to gain power, however his party received few votes in the 1920's elections, winning at most 6.6% of the popular vote.

Both Jack and Hitler also attempt to stage a revolution. In the book, after the boys find a dead parachutist on the mountain Jack attempts a coup to force Ralph out of power, using his fear when confronting the ‘beast’ as justification. Similarly, in 1923 Hitler tried to seize control of the Bavarian government during the Munich Putsch as part of an attempted wider revolution to overthrow the Weimar government. While both attempted coups were unsuccessful, they resulted in greater determination to gain control, with Hitler vowing to take control through parliamentary measures and Jack leaving the group angry, claiming he will start his own tribe.

When in power, both Hitler and Jack’s leadership exhibited features of dictatorial power. Hitler was a fascist dictator who emphasised military strength, war, and demanded total obedience to the ‘Fuhrer’ or supreme leader. Jack demonstrates dictatorial leadership as he requires his hunters to call him ‘chief’ – a title which brings him authority. He also reinforces his position and power though his standard-bearers who lift their spears and chant ‘the chief has spoken’, adding to the myth of his self-appointed authority. He also uses the boy’s (especially the younger ones) fear of the ‘beast’ to demand obedience and gain support. This is similar to Hitler who used propaganda to reinforce the myth of his own authority, as parades such as the Nuremburg rallies and the obedience and organisation of the SS guard contributed to his perceived power and status.

Violence and fear were also used in both cases to maintain control. Hitler used repression through the creation of a ‘terror state’, which instilled fear through violence. The use of concentration camps, the secret police (gestapo) and the elite SS guard reduced opposition by creating a climate of fear and suspicion. Anyone who did not conform to Nazi ideals was brutally punished, often without trial. In Lord of the Flies Jack becomes obsessed with hunting and killing pigs, scaring the other boys with his face paint, band of chanting ‘hunters’ and their sharpened spears who intimidate and impress the other boys. This is also in some ways similar to Hitler’s use of the SA in the early years of the Nazi party and later the SS, who intimidated and oppressed any opposition or perceived threat to the regime. Jack also willfully punishes the other boys, as is the case when Wilfred is tied to a tree and beaten. This demonstrates that both Jack and Hitler evidence an eagerness to punish those who break their rules, as Hitler also demonstrated significant cruelty in his treatment of minority groups such as Jews, homosexuals and gypsies.