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Study the character of Simon from the novel ”Lord of the Flies” Essay Sample

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Study the character of Simon from the novel ”Lord of the Flies” Essay Sample

Simon maintains a positive outlook on the boys’ situation. He represents purity and goodness and can be seen as a Christ-like figure.

He constantly reinforces his belief that they will be rescued when the other boys are pessimistic and have given up hope.

During chapter 5, Simon is perceptive enough to recognise that the “beast” the boys are obsessive about is “only us” – he recognises the evil and savagery that is within them and threatening to take them over with the loss of all rationality.

It is in Chapter 5 that Simon encounters the head of the pig killed by the other boys in the forest. This event provides the title for the book as he names the pig’s head “Lord of the Flies”. He converses with the pig’s head, partly through his own imagination and partly via an unaccountable and savage voice. For Simon this is the confirmation of his belief that he is coming face-to-face with “The beast in everyone”. He collapses in a faint and this foreshadows his death in chapter 9.

In chapter 9, Simon is killed by the other boys, fulfilling the prophecy of the Lord of the Files that all of the boys would fall foul of the savagery that possesses them when they are all together. Rationality is lost when the force of their bestial nature takes over.

When Simon is killed, he is killed as part of a savage dance and assumed to be the beast in the forest in the blind force of the boys’ irrational response. When he is lost, the voice of optimism and rationality is lost with him and the descent into chaos is complete.

Simon’s character is symbolic as a Christ-like representative, who is in tune with the island and nature, often seeing far beyond the literal meaning of what is going on. You can trace his alienation over the course of the novel. He is always quiet and a bit of a loner, subject to epilepsy and fainting fits, but the boys slowly begin to reject him. Yet despite his physical weaknesses, Simon is brave, confronting the Beastie alone, and learning that it is an evil within themselves that they fear. He is murdered for the message he brings, which the other boys do not want to hear.

He also shows responsibility, taking care of the littleuns and doing whatever work needs to be done to ensure their survival. He is selfless and seeks to do good, yet he suffers a terrible fate.

In the novel, the pig’s head on a stick, covered in flies, is a horrific symbol of how far the violence has come. The pig was killed by Jack and his hunters and the head is put on a stick as an offering to the ‘beast’. Only Simon really appreciates that the ‘beast’ is actually the evil inside the boys themselves and it is that which is breaking things up.

So, the title of the novel reinforces the idea that we all have something of the ‘devil’ within us – and that the ‘devil’ can be released all too easily.

The beast stands for the primitive instincts of savagery that exists within all of us. As the boys become more savage, their belief in the beast becomes stronger. At the end of the novel, they have begun to see it as a form of god-like figure to be placated with sacrifices.

Notice how Simon is the only boy who realises that the dead airman is only a harmless and pathetic corpse. He also understands that the beast is simply a product of the boys’ imaginations. Simon is never able to explain his discoveries and quieten the fears of the others, as he is killed before he is able to do so. It is as if he is a threat to the evil things that on the island, and so he cannot be allowed to remain there. Simon has become a scapegoat – a person who is being sacrificed as a way of relieving the guilt of the others. The boys have moved on from killing a pig to a human victim, as they become progressively more savage. See Chapter 9 for suitable quotations for your assignment.

The younger children are convinced that the beast is a large terrifying creature. Maurice and Percival are sure that it is a large sea serpent-like creature. Simon expresses William Golding’s view that the beast is actually something inside them. It is the capacity to be evil and cruel that is really the beast. At the assembly he says “Maybe it’s only us.” It is this view of what the beast is that the book explores in the rest of the narrative.

This is an important chapter because it is where the divisions between the boys really start to show. There is a distinct battle of wills between Ralph and Jack and the beginning of mutiny within the ranks (the adjective “Mutinously” is even used in the penultimate sentence of the chapter). Basically, the boys are divided along the lines of fun versus practicality. Jack is more interested in the idea of a hunt and creating a fort, whilst Ralph knows how important it is to find out if the beast actually exists and to keep the signal fire going. From this point on, these divisions widen until we get the two factions fighting each other.

It is important to remember that Simon has just embarrassed himself by trying to speak to the group. This has lowered his status significantly and has shown the others that he is not exactly like them. He obviously wants to be a part of the group, as he joins the party looking for the beast, rather than staying with Piggy, but he hangs back and walks along with Ralph. This indicates that he admires Ralph and feels a connection with him that he doesn’t with the rest of the boys and that Simon worries what Ralph thinks of him. It is interesting that his mental picture of the beast is the closest of all the boys to reality.

This chapter shows how practical and mature Ralph is. Unlike the rest of the boys (except Simon) he doesn’t really believe that a ‘beast’ exists – for him there must be a rational explanation. He doesn’t really want to go on a search for it, but does anyway, out of a sense of duty to the group. He isn’t really relishing his role as a leader here, for he lets Jack take a bit of control initially and isn’t anxious to reach the spot where he needs to make decisions. When it comes to it, however, Ralph’s sense of duty overcomes his fear and he presses on alone. At the end of the chapter, we see how he is faced with opposition to his practical approach. He knows how important it is to get the fire going, but the others want to play. He tries touse sense to talk them round, but they aren’t entirely convinced as he has ruined their fun.

We see a combination of weakness and strength from Jack in this chapter and the beginnings of the challenge to Jack’s leadership. He starts trying to break the rules of the society by rejecting the notion of the conch. We see Jack’s anger as Ralph insists that he follow the rules. He is anxious for the hunt and gladly takes the lead. It is only when the reach the ‘castle’ that he hangs back a bit. We have another battle of wills – it is quite interesing that it is between the hunter (Jack), symbolic of instinct and emotion, and the chief (Ralph), symbolic of reason. Ralph goes ahead, but Jack joins him, showing that he will not be left behind. It is very significant that Jack sees the castle as an opportunity to build a fort and have fun, and that he is the one who leads the boys away at the end of the chapter.

Perhaps we might call the pig a symbol of the ultimate evil force, the Devil . Or we may say that it represents our hidden, destructive side that we do not reveal because of the pressures of modern civilisation. In either case, this evil has power to attract us and to dictate to us. We, like Simon, are as helpless as children who are under the control of a dictatorial schoolmaster, who sets the rules of our behaviour. No wonder Simon felt inadequate and inferior when the pig addressed him. The pig represents a controlling force, which is difficult to defy.

In Lord of the flies, chapter8 when simon approaches the beast, there are sentences beginning with “Simon” or “Simon’s”. For examples: Simon answered him in the same silent voice.Simon moved his swollen toungue but said nothing.Simon’s mouth laboured, brought forth audible words.Simon’s body was arched and stiff.Simon found he was looking into a vast mouth.There was blackness within, a blackness that spread. Simon’s head wobbled. His eyes were half-closed as though he were imitating the obscene thing on the stick

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The repetition of Simon’s name really serves to build up tension. This episode reflects the idea that the Lord of the Flies is both a pig on a stick and a beast. We also get the impression that the beast is coming from inside Simon, ‘I’m part of you’.

The passage builds up to Simon’s collapse. The repetition of his name is almost a way of building up momentum until something has to give. Our focus is very closely on Simon and what is happening to him so that we almost share some of the fear and sensations he is experiencing.

So, with regard to Simon, you might well decide that he is not ‘Christ-like’. I suppose that although he dies, he does not actually save anyone; and there is no religious rebirth because of his actions and beliefs and so on.

However, make sure that you balance such views against those details from the novel, which have been picked up by others to show that he does have prophet-like characteristics. After all, Golding himself said: “Simon is a saint”:

* He picks fruit for the littluns

* Gives Piggy meat

* Retrieves Piggy’s glasses for him

* Goes back alone through the forest to Piggy and the littluns

* Tries to tell the assembly what is wrong with them all

* And so on.

He is a mystic with the power of foreknowledge. He is even kind to the dead, freeing the parachute from the rocks. As a visionary, he has faints; and he loves his fellows. Like Jesus, he resists temptation, the temptation to know about the Lord of the Flies but to say nothing.

He is very much a loner. And finally he is sacrificed.

Go through those first two chapters again carefully, look at the differences and similarities to the way people appear and behave before and after the accident. You are looking particularly at Piggy, Simon and Ralph, how do they relate to one another before and after, are there any changes, if so, why do you think this is? How important do you think it is when it is Piggy who first explains the true situation to everyone, ‘Nobody knows where we are’? Piggy and Ralph emerge as the voices of reason, Ralph being very much the leader whilst Piggy is, if you like, ‘the back-room boy’ he has the ideas and Ralph carries them out. What does this tell you about the way that Piggy is going to be regarded in the rest of the book? Now how do you feel Simon is portrayed?

You must remember that the author is trying to show you how children and by extension, people, behave when they do not have the constraints of society on them and how their behaviour changes as they shed more and more of the inhibitions that society places on us. The author is using children rather than grown ups as children are thought to be nearer to the natural state already than adults, so they will have less difficulty throwing off the constraints of society.

Look for some quotations which support your ideas about the characters and note these carefully; it is a good idea to do this as you go through the book, so that at the end you will have a set of quotations which will show you how individuals have changed/ matured/ remained the same throughout the book.

In lord of the flies, the language used in chapter8 where Simon approaches the beast, the language used by the pig contains words/phrases similar to the schoolboy slang used by Ralph, Jack and the others.

There are some examples of this in the language used by the pig, but not many. Examples include:

* “They think you’re batty” – meaning they think you are mad

* “I’m the reason why it’s no go” – meaning I am the reason why it is not possible

* “…we shall do you” – meaning we shall kill you

The island is described as being like a paradise into which the boys arrive. As the book progresses and the rules of society break down we begin to see the capacity for evil emerge. This culminates in the deaths of Piggy and Simon. The island is almost destroyed by fire. Ralph is chased like a wild animal and would almost certainly have been murdered if the naval officer had not arrived. I think that it is Golding’s view that it is the boys who bring evil to the island. You will need to decide what you think and then back this up with evidence from the text.

In chapter five there is a lot of discussion about what the beast may be. For Jack, the beast is nothing more than a wild animal to be hunted and killed. His view is that if there is a beast then it is something that they will have to put up with. Piggy, who is very logical, says that it is the age of science and there can’t possibly be a beast. He says, “I know there isn’t no beast.”

The younger children are convinced that the beast is a large terrifying creature. Maurice and Percival are sure that it is a large sea serpent-like creature. Simon expresses William Golding’s view that the beast is actually something inside them. It is the capacity to be evil and cruel that is really the beast. At the assembly he says “Maybe it’s only us.” It is this view of what the beast is that the book explores in the rest of the narrative.

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