Similar Elements of the Characters’ Power Struggle
Literature is one way of humanity’s effort to mirror or chronicle the hard realities of life. Societal, moral and political issues has somehow always managed to get inside the printed pages of a certain literary work that the public reads—no matter how controversial and prohibited those issues may be. This holds true to both the novels that will be discussed in this essay—the Lord of the Flies by William Golding and the Animal Farm by George Orwell. The Lord of the Flies was controversial because the theme that the author was presenting was very uncommon and horrifying.
The characters, the setting and the scenes that the novel presented was all very simple and straight forward and yet the underlying meaning of the novel focuses on the moral degradation that happens when humans turns to animals because they lose the ability or the conviction to be humane. The Lord of the Flies tells a story of a group of young British school boys who gets stranded on an island after their plane crashes. The boys decide that they must fetch for themselves and live a world without grownups who will tell them what to do. They elect leaders, build a council and committees and try to survive the harsh realities of the jungle.
However, the boys’ penchant for rules and order disappear as they realize that there will be no punishments or reprimands that awaits them if they will be unruly and disorderly. Two groups clashes intensely—Ralph’s group who desperately holds on to the system and order that they have built from the start, and Jack’s group who destroys the order and starts the chaos and conflict of the novel. It concludes in the knowledge that Jack’s group starts hunting down Ralph so they can kill him. The island goes up in flames and Ralph along with a few boys, survives.
Jack, other members of his group as well some members of Ralphs’s group gets killed by either murder or accident. According to Ralph though, the real horrifying aspect that has happened to them is not the actual experience of savagery; it is the “end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart… ” (Golding 202). The next novel which has received controversies in terms of the political themes it is presenting is the Animal Farm by George Orwell. It is well known that George Orwell wrote the novel as a political allegory to Stalin’s government in Russia at that time.
That is probably the reason why he also had a difficult time looking for a publisher for the novel that he wrote (Alkiviadou and Nordal, 2003). The short novel centres on a farm wherein the animals have finally decided on a revolution against the humans who are maltreating them. The animals decide that the farm will be governed by them since it is theirs. It is headed by the pigs and specifically, two of the prominent figures in their group—Napoleon and Snowball. The novel starts off as the most respected of all the animals, Old Major calls the farm animals for a meeting.
He gives a passionate speech about a world without humans and a world wherein the animals will not need to work just to provide for the humans. He calls on them for revolution or the “Rebellion” (Orwell 30) as they call it against the harsh Mr. Jones. They win the Rebellion but the Old Major has died by that tine already. The other pigs, who are “regarded as the cleverest of all the animals” (Orwell 35)—Napoleon, Snowball and Squealer decide to build and rename the Manor Farm to Animal Farm as it will be lead by the animals. They govern the farm and make the rules so that system and order will reign.
They also advocate “Animalism” (Orwell 36) which is the over all consummation of the Old Major’s vision of the freedom and liberty of the animals from humans. The farm overwhelmingly succeeds and even outside human forces is scared that the practice in Animal Farm will spread and affect the other animals causing them to stage their own Rebellion. Later on, however, Napoleon and Snowball clash in their agendas and goals as Napoleon slips into becoming human himself and Snowball is lost in the illusion of the idealistic goals of Animalism.
Napoleon with his group of supporters (which are the young puppies that he taught supposedly in the spirit of what Animalism is advocating) lie, cheats, and maltreats; while Snowball is concentrated on trying to spread the philosophy of Animalism to the other farms in England. Snowball is exiled however as the power of Napoleon is great (with the help of his bodyguards, the dogs and the eloquent and manipulative Squealer) and Animalism’s Seven Commandments is reduced to a single rule: “All animals are equal.
But some animals are more equal than the other” (Orwell 133). The novel concludes in the moment when the other farm animals sees the pigs and humans talking inside the house that they cannot already determine who is an animal and who is a human. As what the novel reveals: Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.
(Orwell 139) Both novels are very much alike in the sense that there are two groups grappling for power. It is a classic and common tale of the good versus the evil, and yet if a person will look at both sides, it cannot really be said that there is an existence of the good and the evil. Perhaps, the two sides are fighting is because there exists a side which is wrong from what the novel established as right and the side which is right since it still stayed on what the novel regards as the correct side.
As what Literature is trying to mirror in the aspect of reality, there will always exist two sides of everything—binary forces that seeks balance in everything—there exists the heaven and the hell, right from left, black from white and love from hate. (Guerin, Labor, Morgan, Reesman, and Willingham 377) Although both novels have very different settings, characters and themes, the opposing forces and their existence link them together. The characters of both Snowball of the Animal Farm and Ralph of the Lord of the Flies are very similar in a sense that they both fought for what they believed is right and they have very strong sense of morals.
Ralph was battling with everyone (except in the case of Piggy) just to let the system and order that was supposed to be established in the island to remain. Moreover, Ralph pioneered and lead ways into making their lives easier in the island—like the delegation of committees with specific roles and the continuity of the burning of the fire for the boys’ rescue. Ralph wanted to be humane being they were humans, thus they should practice and fulfil their role as what humans are supposed to be and not to turn into savage beasts or animals.
As what the role of Ralph played, Snowball is also the same as he is in a sense that he is grappling with his moralities of being an animal and not letting go of that belief. Both characters have dignity and honour that is undeniable. Snowball also advocated ways in trying to make their farm for the better. He exhaustively poured over the planning and building of the electrical mill so that the animals of the farm can have a better life that is reduced to comfort and leisure.
In addition, Snowball was strong in his belief that he fought for even if everyone was against his plans. Like Ralph, he has to be exiled but with Ralph’s case, he was hunted down to be killed. As there is a certain parallelism with both Ralph and Snowball, there are also certain similarities in their characters in terms of their negative traits. Both of the protagonists, were so idealistic that there are moments in both novels that they lost logic and the ability to carefully consider the possibilities of all the situations and to plan out the next step to be taken.
Even if they have both such formidable opponents, they should have at least the courage and foresight to make it a point that what they are fighting for is acknowledged and carried out. Another weakness that both characters have is the fact that they do not have such a strong following of the people they are leading that the followers are easily swayed by the other members who showed a knack for other forms of leadership. At the beginning, everyone looked up to Ralph and merely considered Jack as a second-in-command.
At the end of the novel, the only boy who was left by Ralph’s side was Piggy and the other boys had to kill him by pushing him off the cliff. As what happened with Snowball, he had no one to support his plans and yet Napoleon had the whole Animal Farm at his bidding. Both characters are so alike that their difference lies in the fact that Ralph wanted to return to the world of humans and be civilized again as this would entail that the system and the order of humanity would once again reign and the boys would become humane again and less beast-like, while Snowball wanted the animals to still be animals and remain in the spirit of Animalism.
The next parallel characters in the two novels are Jack and Napoleon. Jack plays the antagonist in the Lord of the Flies as he tries and succeeds in a coup d’etat against Ralph and his leadership and wins the loyalty of the other boys. He wins over Ralph so much that by the near end of the novel, Jack’s followers were ready to hunt and kill down Ralph. As Jack can be likened to Napoleon, he topples over the leadership of the protagonist and engages in a struggle for power and domination.
Like Napoleon, he manages to win the hearts of the previous leader’s followers by using antics and tactics that reduces the protagonist as a weakling (which Ralph and Snowball are) but more importantly, Jack uses the ability of taking advantage of the fact that there are certain aspects of a man that makes him savage and this aspect shows at the most dire of consequences. There are countless of times that Jack’s leadership and the savagery that brought the boys to kill their friends and eat them can also be a question of whether man is capable of evil (Olsen xi).
Jack’s attitude is debatable on whether it was really an act of evil or merely an act of what the situation was calling for. As what Napoleon is doing, the two antagonists of the novels are merely having an attitude of survival of the fittest. This may hold true more to Jack as he belonged to the Hunting Committee and he knows first hand that there is no substantial food in the island which can only lead to their death. Jack is merely acting on his baser instincts that call for survival. Unfortunately, in his situation, survival means having to kill and even eat the body of the other boys.
Napoleon holds to this principle as well as he does not really want to intentionally maltreat or put the farm animals under extreme hardship. It is merely a matter of trying to survive at a time of turmoil and effort. Although unlike Jack, Napoleons’ survival as an animal is merely to not toil and work like other farm animals and instead be comfortable and live in a life of leisure. Jack’s action of evilness or being wrong is much more than Napoleon’s in a sense that it is life which is already at stake and it is a matter of who is smarter and more daring which survives.
In addition, Napoleon and Jack is different in the case of how they are acting and on what do they want to achieve. Jack wants to forego being humane and to be animalistic, while Napoleon wants to forego being an animal and be a human. This could be confusing though in a sense that the other character is indeed an animal while the other is really a human—thus, parallelism is very difficult if one is to look at what they would want to achieve. However, if we are to look at why is it they want to achieve, then some similarities can be drawn.
Jack (even if he is a human), and Napoleon (even if he is a pig), is even more blatantly similar in the last point—they do not want who and what they are and desires to change. Jack is a human who may, perhaps, not be happy with who and what he has and have and needs to change into something that will answer that desire. This holds true to Napoleon as he desires the change and ridiculously attempts to be human. Moreover, before the whole conflict arose in the novel, both antagonists swore to not be a savage for Jack and a man for Napoleon and to establish system and order which ironically, both disobeys and destroys in the end.
In conclusion, while the novels do indeed have differences like the characters’ identity—their similarities is evident in the personalities and attitudes that they have exhibited. There may be a lot more points to be considered in pointing out their differences and similarities, but more than the knowledge that the Lord of the Flies and the Animal Farm have obvious parallelisms, both novels are still undeniably wonderful pieces of Literature. Works Cited Alkiviadou, Natalie and Martin Nordal (2003) Animal Farm: The Book.
Retrieved 11 April 2009 from < www. animal-farm. 8k. com> Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. New York, Penguin Group Inc. , 1954 Guerin, Wilfred L. , Earle Labor, Lee Morgan, Jeanne C. Reesman and John R. Willingham. A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature. 5th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Olsen, Kirstin. Understanding Lord of the Flies: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents. London: The Greewood Press, 2000 Orwell, George. Animal Farm. Iowa: 1st World Publishing, 2004Sample Essay of PaperDon.com