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The Issue of Fear in The Lord of The Flies by William Golding

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Examples of Fear in Lord of the Flies
  3. Jack's fear
    Piggy's fear
    Ralph's fear
  4. Conclusion


Fear, crucial for the survival of the human race, it has always been engraved in everyone from birth and used until death. In the novel The Lord of the Flies, the boys on the island are massively affected by fear, as it manipulates their decisions and their way of thinking. William Golding hints to fear as the most dangerous and destructive force on the island and supports this by Jack’s fear of losing power results in his manipulative nature, Ralph’s fear of the unknown that leads to his downfall and Piggy’s fear of death which leads to the destruction of society. In the novel the Lord of the Flies, William Golding uses fear on the island to display the true destructive nature of fear towards their reaction through Jack’s hunger for power, Ralph’s fear of the unknown and Piggy’s fear for his own survival.

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Examples of Fear in Lord of the Flies

Jack’s fear

Jack is one of the main characters in the Lord of the Flies. He is also one of the characters that is most influenced by fear. Jack is the most power hungry boy on the island in the Lord of the Flies. Firstly, Jack has a fear of losing control over the boys on the island. Jacks sees how the boys on the island are slowly leaving him over for Ralph. Jack scares the boys on the island with the mystical and bloodthirsty beast and frames Ralph as he has no plans to deal with the mysterious Beast “‘Quiet!’ shouted Jack. ‘You, listen. The beast is sitting up there, whatever it is–‘ ‘Perhaps it’s waiting–‘ ‘Hunting–‘ ‘Yes, hunting.’ ‘Hunting,’ said Jack … ‘I’ve got the conch. Ralph thinks you’re cowards, running away from the boar and the beast. And that’s not all.’” (Golding 138). Jack uses the Beast to make the boys conform under his will, he also makes it seems that the carnivorous and mystical Beast would get them sooner or later and there’s no point in running away from the Beast. Lastly, Jack is afraid of opposition to his power. He burns down the entire island just to remove his one and single opposition Ralph. “They’re going to hunt you to-morrow!’ … They had smoke him out and set the island on fire” (Golding 209, 219). Fear got the best of Jack in the final chapter of the Lord of the Flies. It shows the extent of what Jack would do because of his fears. Jack, although power-hungry, uses fear as his main driving factor throughout the novel.

Piggy’s fear

Secondly, Piggy is one of the most frightened boy on the island, he always seems to worry about something at any given time in Lord of the Flies. Piggy’s worries for his own survival drives him throughout the Lord of the Flies. Piggy loves his glasses, it is his only way of seeing clearly and the only means of survival. Piggy has a fear of not seeing clearly especially in an island filled with savages, his fear of not seeing clearly leads to his demise and the destruction of the conch. “‘I know. They didn’t come for the conch. They came for something else. Ralph – what am I going to do?’ … From his left hand dangled Piggy’s broken glasses. … ‘…I want my glasses’. The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee; the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist” (Golding 186, 189, 200). Piggy’s fear of not seeing clearly inevitably became the catalyst for the destruction of the island. Piggy’s self-centered views on survival on the island show how fear will lead to destruction. After the conch ends up in oblivion, the savages and Ralph lost the idea of civilization and society. Finally, Piggy’s last fear is his fear of being a savage. Piggy has always a strong stand on keeping himself civilized and survival even on an island isolated from the outside world. This fear results in a barrier between Piggy and the other boys on the island. Piggy wants to look clean and civilized towards the savages “What are we? Humans? Or animals? Or savages? … ‘ … washed and hair brushed–after all we aren’t savages really and being rescued isn’t a game–’” (Golding 98, 189) Piggy always fears savagery, he tries his best to stay away from savagery he puts savagery lower than animals and Piggy’s barrier to reach the other boys resulted in a separation with the civilized boys and the savages. Piggy although being one of the smartest but yet frightened boy on the island has some fears that result in the separation of the boys on the island and the destruction of society.

Ralph’s fear

Finally, Ralph, the leader of the boys has some crucial fears that the helps with the survival of the boys on the island. Ralph is the leader of the boys for the most of the novel, Ralph is utterly scared of the unknown, his fear ultimately leads to his downfall. Ralph’s biggest fear on the island is the fear of not getting rescued. This fear results in his obsession with the signal fire. Ralph’s obsession with the signal fire leads to a heated argument between Jack and Ralph which ultimately divides them apart and made them both rivals throughout the novel. Ralph is upset that Jack let the fire out and let a ship pass by. “You and your blood, Jack Merridew! You and your hunting! We might have gone home–’ … ‘I was chief, and you were going to do what I said. You talk. But you can’t even build huts–then you go off hunting and let out the fire–’ … Jack went very red as he hacked and pulled at the pig. Jack stood up as he said this, the bloodied knife in his hand. … The two boys faced each other” (Golding 74, 75). Ralph’s obsession leads to the downfall of Jack, Jack’s hatred towards Ralph grows throughout the novel and Ralph’s obsession with the fire stayed the same. The uncertainty of being rescued has always been brought up by Ralph multiple times throughout the book, Ralph with the idea of his father in the navy has some insecurities about getting stuck on the island. Ralph’s leadership skills and fear of not being rescued was his greatest downfall. Ralph was also utterly scared of this carnivorous beast. Ralph was venturing up the hill to find the mythical beast with Jack and Roger. “In front of them, only three or four yards away, was a rock-like hump where no rock should be. Ralph could hear a tiny chattering noise coming from somewhere– perhaps from his own mouth. He bound himself together with his will, fused his fear and loathing into a hatred, and stood up. He took two leaden steps forward”. (Golding 135) William Golding describes Ralph’s fear towards the beast as a combination of fear and hatred, William Golding uses this exact combination of emotion to show the dangers of combining these two together. Fear and hatred is a vital emotion throughout the novel Lord of the Flies. Ralph although a valiant leader relies on emotions that would make him an inconsistent leader which leads to the downfall of Ralph and all the other characters in the Lord of the Flies.


William Golding shows that Jack’s devious fears, Ralph’s apprehensions, and Piggy’s self-centered nature demonstrates the controlling and harmful nature of fear. Jack demonstrates the destructive powers of fear on the island by setting the entire island on fire. Secondly, Piggy’s selfish fears display the destruction it can cause to others around him and finally, Ralph’s fear of the unknown leads to clashing ideas and hatred to take over him and led with emotion that ends up becoming his undoing and ultimately leads to the island covered with fire.

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Dystopian writers such as Golding, embed fear and violence into the novel to convey a wider message. In the beginning of the novel, the readers are led to believe that the boys are living in a utopian society, and this is because of Golding’s choice of setting. Being surrounded by beaches, water and exotic fruits. However, this novel only reinforces the idea that suffering is inevitable as it is a result of their inherently flawed nature. Golding presents the characters as being in constant suffering. The boys go hungry and become dirty, living in constant fear of the beast, all whilst being under the cruel and oppressive rule of Jack. Fear although natural to the human race will always be perceived differently by different people.

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The Issue of Fear in The Lord of The Flies by William Golding Essay
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This essay has a clear organization with a strong focus on fear as a destructive force in The Lord of the Flies. The voice is clear and concise, and the sentence structure is easy to follow.
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The essay could be improved by using more varied sentence structure and a stronger thesis statement. The thesis statement should clearly state the main argument of the essay and be located at the end of the introduction. Additionally, the essay would benefit from more analysis and interpretation of the evidence presented to support the argument.
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