Why does Golding create two contrasting characters in Lord of the Flies who struggle over the leadership of the island?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Golding uses the characters of Ralph and Jack to symbolize the internal struggle present in all humans. Ralph's character is the archetype for democracy, civility, and morality while Jack's character is the archetype for anarchy, violence, and carnal desires. William Golding uses these characters to represent different aspects of Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytical theory. Jack represents the Id, which is the untethered, primal part of the human mind that needs to be controlled. Jack embodies the Id because he is constantly concerned with killing the pigs and openly opposes Ralph's leadership in favor of barbarism and violence. Ralph represents the concept of the Ego. According to Freud, the Ego is what keeps the Id in check, and stands between the Super Ego and Id. Ralph understands the morally correct and civil approach to leadership, yet still struggles with his desires. In a sense, the function of the Ego is to compromise between the primal Id and the Super Ego, which is only concerned with society's rules and regulations. These two contrasting characters metaphorically represent the struggles humans face when we suppress our desires to live up to society's expectations. Throughout the novel, Golding suggests that humans are inherently primal, and the Id takes full control when society's rules and regulations are not enforced, which is evident by Jack's rise to power.

kevinmoser1987 | Student

Golding creates two contrasting potential leaders in Lord of the Flies to highlight the key thematic elements of the novel. The novel presents savagery and chaos in competition with reason, logic, and adherence to formerly acceptable societal norms. Jack represents the human desire for turbulence and leadership exerted  by strength, while Ralph continues to try to lead through logic, reason, and the rules of the society they left behind.

In addition to creating the main themes of the novel, the two contrasting characters also provide a platform for the plot of the novel to progress. The conflict between Ralph and Jack is a microcosm of the conflicts overtaking the whole island and all of the boys. Jack's takeover of leadership ignites the descent into madness that the boys embark on, while Ralph's presence constantly sheds light on the failures of the new society.

The conflict for leadership in Lord of the Flies is one of the central components of Golding's book. It creates the themes that permeate the entire story, and sets up the main characters that drive the plot development of the book. The conflict between leaders is one of the most important parts of Lord of the Flies.

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Lord of the Flies

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