“Compare and contrast the characters of Jack and Ralph and discuss the way that the rivalry between them develops in the course of the novel.” By comparing and contrasting the characters of Jack and Ralph it allows the reader to fully understand their characters and how each develops throughout the novel. Once this has been achieved the reason the rivalry occurs becomes evident and the novel’s most important qualities and themes emerge from these two characters. It is then that we are able to see why Ralph and Jack’s friendship can never develop into anything but rivalry.
Throughout the novel we see that Ralph and Jack share similar qualities, but there is a great difference in the way they use these attributes to benefit both themselves and others. Ralph uses his power to create a democracy, where each person has the right to voice their opinions and ideas. “I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak. He can hold it when he’s speaking…and he won’t be interrupted.” The conch becomes a symbol of the right of a speaker to a fair hearing. While Jack uses his authority to produce a fascist, hostile environment where he controls the doings of his tribe. “Tomorrow we shall hunt” and “He said we weren’t to let you in.” Whilst both characters have the chance to exercise their power, both do so in a disparate way, with Ralph aiming to benefit the group as a whole, and Jack himself profiting from his actions. Ralph and Jack begin the novel with similar beliefs, both wanting to implement rules. “I agree with Ralph. We’ve got to have rules and obey them.” Ralph concentrates on being rescued and Jack goes along with this taking on the responsibility that he and his choir will mind the fire. “We’ll be responsible for keeping the fire going-”, but while Ralph remains focused on being rescued, Jack’s new-found interest in hunting leads him to forget about rescue. “Jack had to think for a moment before he could remember what rescue was. ‘Rescue? Yes, of course! All the same, I’d like to catch a pig first-.” As the story evolves, so to do Ralph and Jack’s different opinions.
The Power Struggle By Chad Chewier Mankind has a primitive desire to exist in a controlled environment, and also has a primitive desire to control his environment. In this Novel, the main characters introduced are a group of young boys torn between two leaders. One is a democratic and caring boy the other is a self-absorbed, power-hungry, dictator. As the story unfolds the choices become harder ...
The pressure on Ralph and Jack’s different ideas peak when Jack forgets about his responsibilities in order to hunt. When Ralph tells Jack a ship had passed, and Jack had let the fire go out, because he had been hunting, all Jack can say is “You should have seen the blood!” Now Jack is faced with two choices. “There was the brilliant world of hunting, tactics, fierce exhilaration, skill; and there was the world of longing and baffled commonsense. Jack transferred the knife to his left hand and smudged blood over his forehead.” We witness Jack step out of the world of civilisation and cross into a realm of savagery. From here Jack and Ralph’s similarities deteriorate and a gap develops between them, causing many problems due to conflicting viewpoints. “They walked along, two continents of experience and feeling, unable to communicate.”
Both boys are tempted by the ‘Beast’, but while we see Jack succumb to his inner human desires and cross the line to brutality, Ralph resists temptation, although he finds it difficult. “Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Bash her in. Ralph watched envious, and resentful.” Ralph knows that for the island to remain civilised he must not become what Jack has become. When Ralph first participates in a hunt he becomes excited. “Ralph was full of fright and apprehension and pride. ‘I hit him! The spear stuck in-”, but he realises that he would fail himself and the others if he gave into the ‘Beast’. Jack and Ralph prove to be similar, both recognising their inner desires, but each handle the situation differently.
The rivalry that develops between Jack and Ralph, begins early in the novel, although it is subtle, and readers may believe it is typical behaviour of boys. The first insight in to their rivalry is when Ralph announces they should vote for a chief. It is obvious that Jack wants to be chief, but Ralph is chosen. “The freckles on Jack’s face disappeared under a blush of mortification.” Jack now feels he must prove himself better than Ralph. The rivalry develops builds tension until Jack and Ralph are on opposing sides, with Ralph standing for civilisation and humanity, and Jack delving into the world of savagery and murder. The gap between them becomes so strained that Jack feels his only option is to kill Ralph. “They hate you, Ralph. They’re going to do you.” (Sam and Eric).
Lord Of The Flies is possibly one of the most complex novels of the twentieth century. This complexity and depth is evident when the characters are compared to the psychological teachings of Freud. The book shows examples of this psyche in the characters Jack, Piggy and Ralph and how they change during their time on the island. Towards the end of the eighth chapter it became very apparent that ...
Ralph realises he has been outcasted, but does not regret his decision not to follow the others, and he now understands why he has been rejected. “Cos I had some sense.” Ralph and Jack were never destined to be great friends, because their conflicting ideas, morals and opinions could only lead them to be rivals.
Evidently, we must compare and contrast the characters of Jack and Ralph, so that we may discover and learn from Golding’s true insight and significance of the story. Once the reader has discovered the characters similarities and differences it creates an understanding of Ralph and Jack’s rivalry, and how it effects the outcome of the novel. Golding intends for these characters to teach us valuable lessons and for them to bring relevance into our lives, and through Ralph and Jack’s experiences the novel achieves just that, causing us to rethink our morals and how they effect those around us, as we are all inclined to judge ourselves by our ideals and others by their acts. It is important for Golding’s readers to remember – “What lies behind us, and what lies before us, are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)