In William Golding’s novel, Lord of the Flies, readers experience the struggles of British boys stranded on an uninhabited island and their attempts to get taken back to civilization. One of the strongest characters, the antagonist, Jack is the essence of dictatorship and savagery.
Upon the first meeting of Jack, the choir is “wearily obedient” and he seems to wield total control over them. He, as “the most obvious leader”, also attempts to seize control undemocratically (“I ought to be leader”), presenting him as a possible dictator at an early stage. Once, Ralph is nominated to be chief, it is made that Jack will have control over the choir which are now the hunters. In order to validate his very existence, he demonstrates a violent display. He stabs trees, attacks Piggy and sets himself up as an antagonist just waiting to take control. Jack’s progression to an autocratic dictator seems almost natural as he quickly realizes that, with no adults on the island, he can drop what few “civilized” traits he has and embrace the sociopath that he was always meant to be. His violent, dictatorial, side is shown once more in his use of the chant (“Kill the pig! Cut her throat! Spill her blood!”) and him whacking Piggy, breaking one lense in his glasses.
The way to get things done, he believes, is to compel, not ask, to terrorize, not persuade. This way of thinking drives Jack further and further away from his once civilized self.With a “compulsion to track down and kill” “swallowing him up”, and being reduced to “running, dog-like, on all fours” seen in chapter 3 , Jack is already shown to be succumbing to the allure of savagery. Golding presents this as “madness”, and he becomes power hungry for meat which is the fimly pretext for the needing of blood. He soon discovers that he wants to kill for more than just getting meat as he recalls, “He has outwitted a living thing, imposed their will upon it, and taken away its life like a satisfying drink”. Jack adopts the painted mask of the hunter, enabling him to hide his civilized mannerisms and take upon savagery ones. With the expanding of the bloodlust, Jack becomes more and more savage and violent.
Under the enforcement of savagery, the distinction between animals and men has already been forgotten. He leads the hunters not only to kill pigs but to also kill his companions such as Simon, Piggy and nearly Ralph. This presentation is furthered by him letting “the bloody fire out” through his desire, showing how his savagery is getting the better of civilization due to the lack of a true authority beyond the symbol of the conch. Jack represents the theme of ‘reversion to savagery’ and he finds that behind the disguise of paint and mask he can assume a more self-confident personality.In writing Lord of the Flies, Golding examines the true nature of humans, and proves that in stressful situations such as the one exhibited on the island, savage behavior would be the end result. Golding chooses children as his subjects, and isolates them with no authority figures, to further prove this point.
The character of Jack not only shows us how the primitive desire and actions are released where there are no restrictions of civilization but also what an dictator is capable of doing when driven by evil power and lust for blood.