Comments Thematic Essay

Choose a novel in which an important theme is explored. Explain how the author develops this theme throughout the novel.

            The Lord of the Flies by William Golding is a novel in which the theme of savagery versus civilisation is explored. Some British boys are stranded on an isolated island at the time of an imaginary nuclear war. On the island we see conflict between two main characters, Jack and Ralph, who respectively represent civilisation and savagery. This has an effect on the rest of the boys throughout the novel as they delve further and further into savagery.

             The theme of savagery versus civilisation is first introduced to us through the symbol of the conch shell which we associate with Ralph as he is the person who first uses it and becomes the elected leader of the boys. This symbolises authority amongst the boys. At the first assembly Ralph says “I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak…he won’t be interrupted”. This suggests civilisation as Ralph is allowing each boy to have an equal say and opinion. If they have the conch, no matter who they are or what age they are they will be given the chance to speak and will be listened to by the rest of the boys. The boys have created the island to be a democratic place which shows a civilised side to them as they try to mimic the homes they have just left.

             Contrasting with the symbol of the conch is the symbol of the beast which comes to be associated with Jack as by the end of the novel he is almost devil worshipping it. The beast begins as a  “snake thing” but by the end of the novel it has become “the Lord of the Flies”. The first quote shows us that the beast is clearly evil. Western society considers snakes to be bad omens because it was a snake that led Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge. However at this stage of the novel the beast is quite insubstantial as it is only a “thing”. As the boys fear of the beast grows so to does the beast itself until it has manifested into the devil – the ultimate and most powerful evil. He has a strong status as a Lord although it is over something pretty disgusting – the flies. The boys belief in the beast leads them to behave more like savages as they act out from their fear and they begin to loose hold of the rules, led by Jack, thus demonstrating the theme of savagery.

             One of ways Golding shows conflict between savagery and civilisation is when Jack and some of the other boys are killing the first pig. Jack chants “kill the pig, cut her throat, spill the blood”. This suggests savagery as the boys are being violent and aggressive when killing the pig and they don’t care about it. This is particularly clear through Golding’s word choice. Jack talks about cutting the pig’s throat which makes it sound like a savage action and spilling her blood which reinforces the lack of care and feeling shown towards the pug’s carcass. This shows that the boys are no longer feeling guilty about what they have done thus showing them becoming savages. 

             We can see the conflict between savagery and civilisation developing further when Piggy’s glasses are broken. We are told “Piggy cried out in terror ‘my specs!” This shows us that the boys savage natures are beginning to overule their more civilised sides. At the start of the book Jack would never have dared touch Piggy, but here he actually snaps and goes for Piggy who he despises. We can tell that Piggy is really scared as Golding chooses the words “cried” and “terror” to describe the scene. Piggy sounds like he is hurting and is genuinely terrified about what Jack might do to him and the loss of his sight. Piggy’s glasses have also come to represent intelligence on the island, with them breaking we see that the pathway to savagery is now completely open for the boys. This is the first true piece of violence between the two factions on the island and it will result in nearly all the boys becoming savages.

             A final way in which we see the theme of savagery versus civilisation being demonstrated is when Ralph sticks up for Piggy after he is attacked by Jack. Ralph says “that was a dirty trick”. This shows that Ralph is really angry at Jack for what he said and did to Piggy. He is still attempting to impose himself as leader here as he says this in an aggressive and assertive tone. This suggests there is still some glimmers of civilisation on the island at this point as there is still someone with a sense of moral goodness ready to fight for justice.

             In conclusion The Lord of the Flies by William Golding is a novel in which the theme of savagery versus civilisation is shown. Ralph represents civilisation as he wants to enforce rules and let everyone have an equal say. Whereas Jack who represents savagery as he rules over the boys and he is not interested in what they have to say. Through the boys actions Golding shows us that we need rules and to consciously impose them to make sure society functions properly.

essayLord of the Fliesprose
 

The Hunger Games:

Sample Essay

*Bold words

= analytical language Suzanne

Collins’ dystopian novel,

The Hunger Games,

investigates

 many themes, including that survival in harsh environments requires risk taking, that inequality is a powerful tool for separation and control, and that unity is key in combating oppression. This essay will

examine

 how Collins uses a range of language devices, including both structural features and literary techniques, to

explore

 these ideas. One of the main themes

outlined

 in

The Hunger Games

is that survival in harsh environments requires risk taking. Once the games begin, Katniss begins making decisions based on her assessment of the risk involved versus the potential gain, immediately. For example, as soon as the gong rings, she decides to head towards the Cornucopia and the

other tributes, despite Haymitch’s advice to turn and flee straight away.

Collins uses

 graphic imagery to

emphasise

 how high the risk she is taking is,

as shown by the quote

, “A boy, I

think from District 9, reaches the pack at the same time I do and for a brief time we grapple for it and then he coughs, splattering my face with blood. I stagger back, repulsed by the

warm, sticky spray. Then the boy slips to the ground. That’s when I see the knife in his back,” (p. 182). This vivid description of the boy’s swift and violent death

highlights

 the danger Katniss has placed herself in by running towards the Cornucopia- it could quite easily

have been Katniss’ “warm, sticky spray” over the boy’s face instead.

The supplies she gains through this action,

however

, later prove key in her survival, allowing Katniss to collect and purify water, and to eva

de the ‘Career Tributes’ by sleeping in tree.

In this way

, Collins

illustrates

 that to give our self the best chance of survival, we have to take risks. Another theme

explored

 in the novel is that inequality is a powerful tool for separation and control. In the nation of Panem, The Capitol has created a hierarchical system. For example, the people of Districts 1, 2 and 4 enjoy greater wealth and privilege than the outer Districts, and unlike those of District 12, do not go hungry.

However,

 it is made clear that inequality also exists between different groups of people within District 12.

Katniss explains how the ‘tesserae’ system is used to divide people, stating, “…the tesserae

is just another tool to cause misery in our District. A way to plant hatred between the starving workers of the Seam and those who can generally count on supper; and thereby

ensure we will never trust one another,” (p. 16). Th

e use of first person narration

conveys

Katniss’ cynical tone, and her clear criticism and dislike of the Capitol. Katniss then predicts that Gale might say “It’s to the Capitol’s advantage to have us divided among ourselves,” if it

were not reaping day,

further illustrating

 her acute

understanding of the Capitol’s motives.

If the population are sharply divided both between and within the Districts, they are unlikely to join forces to identify and rebel against their real oppressors, The Capitol. The novel,

therefore

,

 highlights

 how creating inequality can assist in controlling a population and maintaining power. The idea that unity is key in combating oppression is also

 exemplified

 in

The Hunger Games.

As discussed above,

the novel makes it clear that The Capitol has intentionally created fear and distrust for one another amongst the Districts as a means of suppressing

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