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A balance between individuality and conformity is essential for the survival of a society. When a balance is maintained within an individual, one can effectively undermine the catastrophic consequences which may surround conformity through individualism. Moreover, acts of conformity provide the necessary facade for self-preservation. William Golding explores this necessity in his allegorical novel Lord of the Flies where, to circumvent the destruction of a society, a group of schoolboys must sustain a balance between their individuality and conformity. Through retaining one’s individuality, one is able to effectively undermine the catastrophic consequences of conformity.
William Golding’s novel features many acts of individuality which refrains one’s human nature into becoming corrupt and immoral. Golding presents his characters; Simon and Jack to be noticeable individuals who in order to survive in uncivilised conditions must maintain higher moral ground through various acts of individuality. ‘“What are you doing out here all alone?’…’I’m the Beast.”’ This segment where Simon encounters the Lord of the Flies alone displays his isolation from the rest of the group. The use of rhetorical questions in the Lord of the Flies’ dialogue enthrals both the reader and Simon, generating suspense and creating a sense of wonder within the audience’s minds. ”Fancy thinking the Beast was something that you could hunt and kill!’…’I’m a part of you? I’m a part of you?’ A sinister tone is developed in the dialogue. The use of repetition accentuates a point, here, the Lord of the Flies proposes that the beast isn’t something that’s worth hunting but something which is developed by the corruption of mankind through conforming absent-mindedly. By resisting acts of conformity in certain circumstances, one is provided with the higher ground in society and dominance. ‘“If you don’t go on,” said the voice sarcastically, “I’ll go up by myself.” Jack’s presentation of courage demonstrates his individuality and suitability to the entitlement of chief. Jack’s character is deeply symbolic of the greed for superiority and power. Although his qualities aren’t desired, it’s an advantage which enables Jack to achieve self-preservation. These examples which have been drawn from Golding’s novel shows how through acts of individuality, one can avoid the loss of humanity.
By conforming to mob mentality and sometimes opposing one’s moral codes, this provides a facade which enables the self-preservation of an individual. The concept of conforming to mob mentality and obtaining triumphant outcomes is often explored in Golding’s captivating novel by various characters including the protagonist; Ralph. ‘Jack’s arm came down; the heaving circle cheered and made pig-dying noises…Robert’s frightened snivels. He wiped his face with a dirty arm, and made an effort to retrieve is status.’ This extract by Golding shows how indisputably an individual can be ostracised by a conforming mob. Filled with auditory imagery, Golding highlights the vulnerability of an excluded individual in an aggressive chant, triggering a sense of sympathy within the audience.”Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!” and ‘the crowd surged after it…leapt onto the beast, screamed, struck, bit, tore.’ The imagery emphasises the abhorrent assault which presented the schoolboys to ‘A View to a Death’. In a moment of hysteria, one can unintentionally harm another. The enraged frenzy which arose from the boys’ excitement is a clear indication of their loss of morality although it’s a facade which allows survival. He was able to convey how the boys including Ralph who started off as naive, dependent and innocent turn into unintentional criminals as a method of self-defence.
Speaking from Ralph’s perspective, without sacrificing his humanity for the many acts of conformity within this novel, survival would be far from his reach. By conforming and sometimes unfavourably violating one’s moral codes, it enables for the survival of a society, and significantly, the individual themselves. Like Yin and Yang, individuality and conformity are very two different concepts although without each other it’s difficult for stability and balance. There must be an equipoise of both individuality and conformity in order for survival. By subverting the catastrophic consequences of individuality and providing the necessary facade through acts of conformity, this enables for the preservation of a society.
Lord of the Flies is a novel by William Golding which masterfully presents the themes of individuality and conformity. Obliquely, Golding portrays that sometimes, in order to acquire survival, amoral qualities may be developed and one may adapt to undesirable acts of conformity.
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