A Comparison of Lord of the Flies to Sympathy for the Devil

8 August 2016

The story The Lord of the Flies is a timeless piece of literature written by William Golding. Many who have read this story have been inspired in different ways, one of these groups being The Rolling Stones. In their song Sympathy for the Devil, there are striking similarities between the lyrics and the content of The Lord of the Flies. In one line of Sympathy for the Devil, the lyrics go like this, “I watched with glee, While your kings and queens, Fought for decades, For the gods they made.

” This is almost directly taken from the key point in the story that human nature, when faced with fear, is to create a fictional excuse for what is causing, or protecting you from, this fear. Ralph and Jack are fighting over this beast that they had created within themselves, as the pig’s head explains to Simon before his epileptic fit (143). Ralph and Jack then go to war in part because of this beast they have created, and they split because of the indecision of whether or not it’s real thing and if so where it comes from and how to deal with said beast.

This is much like how kings and queens used to bring entire countries to war over gods and goddesses that had been blatantly created as a way to deal with the human’s common fear of death. People would die over fictitious gods much as kids died on the island in The Lord of the Flies over a beast that they too had created out of fear. The Lord of the Flies shows how it is in human nature to savagely defend your beliefs out of fear of them, and Sympathy for the Devil is taking this concept and directly portraying it in the afore stated lyrical verse.

Just as Jack and Ralph and all the other inhabitants had created and fought brutally over the beast in fear, humans created and fought brutally over gods that they had no way of knowing for sure whether or not even existed. It’s all just in human nature and is described wonderfully in both The Lord of the Flies and Sympathy for the Devil. Earlier in the song Sympathy for the Devil, the lyrics say that “When I saw it was time for a change, Killed the Czar and his ministers, Anastasia screamed in vain. ” This is very similar to the fight between Jack and Ralph.

Jack and Ralph were not getting along and Jack decided that it was time to vindicate Ralph from his position as chief and make his own tribe. However, that wasn’t enough for Jack so he made the decision that Ralph needed to be killed in order for there to be proper retribution for the “crimes” that Ralph had committed. The savages had vengeance on their mind as they chanted “Kill the beast. Cut his throat. Spill his blood. ” (186) Ralph of course was the “his” of this chant as he was being targeted for death.

Much as the savage boys thought that the only way to properly punish Ralph for the crimes he had apparently committed was to kill him, the people of Russia during the Russian revolution thought that they had to kill the Czar and his family in order to properly change the government to the way they wanted it. The attempted killing of Ralph is much like Russia’s killing of the Czar and his family, the mob psychology took over and they attacked their enemies because they believed that it was the only way to properly rid themselves of their aggressor.

The essential meaning of both of the situations described in The Lord of the Flies and Sympathy for the Devil is that when angry people are put into a mob of other angry people, their primeval savagery is revealed and they will, with ebullience follow a single strong-man leader, such as Jack, to kill the aggressor. Another important point in the song is that it is not sung from the point of view of a human. The singer is singing as an entity rather than that of a person first meeting the devil. This is evident because this person is talking of being present at events that happened thousands of years ago.

The entity, or idea, the person is singing as is human savagery. He is saying that he has been present in all people that have ever done anything of elephantine horribleness and of blatant disregard for human rights. As this entity he says one striking line that really relates to the story and that is “Just as every cop is a criminal, And all the sinners saints,” (Sympathy for the Devil). The reason this is so important is because he is saying that no matter how wonderful you may appear, he- human savagery- exists in everyone, even a group of posh British boys who are escaping a war and just crash landed on an island together.

All you need is the proper situation and anyone will become a blood lusting animalistic killer if it means survival. Another lyric that supports this is when the chorus comes around and the lead singer sings “Hope you guessed my name,” (Sympathy for the Devil). The man is almost challenging the devil because he knows that this savagery exists in all of human kind. He is saying that we are all capable of crimes like the ones that are stated in previous verses, and that it is just human nature to be savage animals when we believe we need to be, and that we are all guilty for the horrid crimes committed.

This is the overall theme behind both The Lord of the Flies and Sympathy for the Devil. The Lord of the Flies and Sympathy for the Devil are both incredibly similar all the way from specific verses to the overall theory behind the words written or sang. Even the beat from Sympathy for the Devil starts with two obviously civilized people politely chatting and laughing, but slowly you can hear a tribal, neanderthallic sounding, savage chant grow. Even the beat is showing that people are savage by nature, and we only cover it up for societal standards that are pushed on us.

As children we are still just learning this societal standard; that is why kids are so likely to kick, bite, punch, or tackle one another when they become angry. It’s all just human nature that is within us and we suppress it because we are taught to do so, and both The Lord of the Flies and Sympathy for the Devil have this as their key theory. The Lord of the Flies and Sympathy for the Devil are both so similar to one another, from the lyrical content to the main idea they both have striking similarities.

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