Lord of the Flies
Typically, in western culture masculinity is traditionally constructed as a way to show physical superiority. Masculinity in society is typically shown through the physical body which shows that masculinity is generally constructed to be heroic and a dominant power. This is shown in the novel Lord of the Flies, the theme of masculinity through the physical body is used to gain power from the group of boys. Characters in this novel were made to show different views, these characters Piggy, Ralph and Jack Merridew.
As much as Ralph and Piggy try to provide hope the need of power pushes the other boys into complete savagery. Piggy is an overweight boy with asthma that can not see without his glasses. In the novel he represents physical weakness and mental strength. Piggy’s obesity and poor sight help show that he lacks in physical well being, also his glasses help illustrate his intelligence. In the novel Piggy provides ideas that are valuable to the group. His ability to be logical in situations helps Ralph lead the group.
But because of Piggy’s lack of physical appearance he is not treated like as leader like Ralph and Jack. Piggy has contributed to the group numerous times. He has helped Ralph become leader by identifying the conch and how to use it. Piggy always stands by his ideas and decisions; he defends his system of having names and having laws. When Piggy dies all the law and order dies with his as well. In many instances Piggy was either ignored or threatened by other boys. Piggy was a main target for Jack because of his lack of physical strength and the need to be logical.
The only ideas that were considered being used were the only ones that Ralph had suggested as the group would not listen to Piggy. Later in the novel when the boys separate into different groups the need of fire for survival overwhelms humanity and forces Jack and others to steal Piggy’s glasses, another factor of Jack’s decision was because of their lack of self defense as Piggy and Ralph were defenseless. However, whatever Piggy lacks in physically he gets more of intellectually. Ralph is a handsome, athletic twelve year old elected leader by the boys.
He is sensible and self confident, Ralph represents physical well being and a democratic leader. Gradually he becomes disheartened under the burden of being leader. Ralph shows how society sees people who are attractive, people tend to like them better and actually listen to him. Ralph is closely linked to the conch throughout the novel. The shell and Ralph both represent law and order. He is elected leader of the group because of his control of the conch which separates him from the other boys.
He then later on uses the conch to hold meetings and set up rules like keeping fresh water available, where to use the bathroom, building shelters and keeping the signal fire lit. Ralph who is born from a military background gives hope and sees in a democratic way. Ralph represents hope, he tells the boys that rescue is coming and shows that by enforcing a fire on the top of the mountain to show that there are people on the island. When they are told that there is a monster on the island, Ralph ensures the boys that there is really no monster and that they are safe.
Ralph’s main concern is to survive until they are rescued. He runs into trouble with Jack who does not agree with his plan. Throughout the whole novel, Ralph struggles to remain true to himself and fights to keep the signal fire lit up. This demonstrates how in the novel physical appearance is used to gain power. In Lord of the Flies masculinity functions as a tool to gain power shown through choir leader Jack Merridew. Jack loves attention, and does anything he can to obtain it. This in the novel means gaining power by using the other boy’s weaknesses to his advantage.
His violent behavior associated with his ego of being masculine influence the group to live up to Jack’s expectations by disagreeing with Ralph, and to do what he thinks is important; to kill the pig. Jack perceives himself higher than the rest of the group especially Piggy. Jack ridicules Piggy because of his lack of physical appearance and his mental superiority over the others. To get the others to join his side Jack he provides them with the thought of safety and survivability. To prove his promises, Jack provides a feast by killing the pig.
He provides warmth and a way to cook by stealing Piggy’s glasses to create fire. These things are provided by violence and are backed by his physical well being. Although he has succeeded by getting what he promised, there were also consequences as Piggy was killed while trying to fight for his glasses. After Piggy’s death his ego overwhelmed his humanity and was set aside as he needed to kill Ralph to feel fully superior. This demonstrates how Jack uses masculinity and fear as a tool to gain power over others.
Lord of the Flies portrays the theme of masculinity through the physical body as a way to gain power to control the group; Jack harms Piggy to intimidate the group. Jack goes against his authority (Ralph) in order to show the group that he is the more superior leader. He also shows his masculinity by showing his anger towards hunting. Jack as with his physical well being uses fear to gain power. Jack victimizes Piggy because of his weight and his use for Ralph and uses the pig, want of survival as a way to separate the group. Through society masculinity is constructed as a form of physical superiority.