Psychology in Lord of the Flies In Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, a group of schoolboys become stranded on an island. The novel describes how most of the boys change from civilized to immoral behavior. There are no adults on this island to enforce rules and laws. As the boys loose touch with the standards of old they start to enjoy the island more and more. Eventually they are completely free of the civilized ways they were taught.
When Simon came with news about the beast the others were dancing around a fire chanting, “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!” They turned on him, beating him to death. They had, in fact, become the beast themselves. Like animals they had lost the feelings of compassion and remorse. The book is a psychological study of the influence of the group on the behavior of individuals. Upon arriving on the island the boys search for the necessities to stay alive.
As in the psychologist Abraham Maslow’s theory of human needs each step must be satisfied before you go to the next stage. The island provided plenty of food and water, satisfying their basic needs of stage one. The stranded schoolboys tried to find security by finding a way to make fire. Gradually they began to develop some rules and leaders. At an assembly only the person holding the conch could speak.
As their physical needs had been fulfilled they began to form groups. According to the theory this is stage three when people want to be a part of a group and to be loved. At that point they chose to be a part of Jack’s hunters or Ralph’s boys. In the final stage a person learns to undertand himself and respect the rights of others. Jack was the leader of the choir and kept them obedient to his command.
In Carl Jung’s theories Jack is in touch with his shadow, which are the animal instincts of man. Jack put the boys in touch with their evil side. He manipulated the boys of his group with fear of the beast so that he could gain power. He convinced them that he was the one that could protect them from the beast. Jack was even willing to kill to keep his power.
Piggy was the scapegoat on the island. At most times he was excluded by most of the boys. He seemed like the odd man out who wanted order and rules on the island. Piggy was an important figure because of his glasses. His glasses were needed to make fire. Fire was very useful on the island.
Although important he was put down by the boys because he didn’t fit in. The boys were rebellious to him because he acted like a parent. He told them what they should do but didn’t have the authority to make them follow through on their jobs. Ralph was the responsible leader. He wanted to bring rules and order to the island.
He lived by self respect and the respect for others; stage four of Maslow’s theory. Ralph was logical in his decision making but the boys rebelled against him because of his orderly job related ideas on running the island. He wanted to keep the fire going and stay concerned about getting rescued. He set up systems for the work that needed to be done. By the end the boys had become war-like beasts trying to hunt down Ralph. Their society was in a state of war. They followed Jack’s orders without any question. Is it possible that William Golding used this story to explain the psychology of what happened in Nazi Germany? The author was an officer in the Royal Navy in World War II.
What happens on the island is similar to what happened in Nazi Germany. One person develops a dictatorship and exercises unlimited power. Ordinary people in Germany followed Hitler and lost their willingness to act responsibly as individuals. They were manipulated by fear and symbols just as Jack used the pig’s head as his symbol. In this way the moral code of a whole society broke down.
It shows that there is little separation between man and beast.