Lord of the Flies

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Which form of government around the world has best succeeded and why? In every country there is a different type of government in which the belief systems have numerous problems. In the novel, Lord of the Flies, William Golding portrays Ralph’s democratic leadership and Jack’s authoritarian leadership as both having negative qualities.


Although a democratic system is a fine method of leadership, Ralph’s rule on the island has many problems, which cause rebellion in the group. The boys jump too fast on electing Ralph for chief because no one knows him. It is a non-thinking choice because he is the one that found the conch. This isn’t a true election, for nobody knows him personally. Also, the only kids that know Jack in the beginning is the choir. After becoming chief, Ralph tries to communicate with the boys in an assembly about getting work accomplished. The boys don’t want to listen to him. Ralph says, “ ‘And another thing.’ Someone called out, ‘Too many things.’ There came a mutter of agreement” (81). While Ralph wants to get necessary chores done, the boys are tired of going along with him. They want to hunt and play all day while refusing to do what Ralph, the chief, thinks is best. This is a problem with democracy because a society crumbles when the leader is not listened to. When nobody will follow what the leader is demanding, it isn’t a proper way of ruling. In a democracy setting like this, if the people don’t listen to who is in charge, nothing will be accomplished. This is a problem for Ralph because if he loses control of the boys, they will run wild and won’t be organized, therefore never be rescued. Although Ralph is trying to do what is best for the boys, by ordering chores and keeping the fire going for possible rescue, there isn’t a sense of togetherness when no one will listen. Later in the book as Ralph tries to keep order, he shouts, “ ‘Because the rules are the only thing we’ve got!’ But Jack was shouting against him. ‘Bollocks to the rules!’” (1). At this point none of the boys want to listen or agree with Ralph. Although as a reader, feeling compassionate toward Ralph, the boys run off and split the assembly. This is a key place in the book, which shows signs of the failure in Ralph’s leadership, as well as the democratic system. To be a systematic and functional democratic group, most of the boys must agree on what the best choices are for group work. This is almost impossible though, because people have different opinions on things, especially young boys since they are immature. This is not working, for Ralph and only a few others believe that shelter and fire are the most important things on the island. This forces the group apart and Jack and the rest of the savages rebel against Ralph’s control at the end of the book. Not only does Ralph suffer from this break up, but every boy on the island too, because a couple boys end up being murdered. Because of the democratic system failure of ruling used by Ralph, the whole society of boys crumbles. Like Golding argues in the text, Ralph’s democratic form of leadership had various tribulations, which led to the group’s downfall.


Jack’s form of authoritarian leadership is a strong way of getting tasks accomplished, but in turn causes the boys to do violent acts causing chaos in the group. As Ralph tries to help the savages with the incoming storm, Jack shouts, “ ‘Do our dance! Come on! Dance!’ ” (151). The leadership role is a big competition for Jack, and he doesn’t want his boys to go back to Ralph. He orders them, in an authoritative way, to do things that are “fun” to the boys, so they won’t listen to reason from Ralph. This is typical of his sort of leadership because he must stay in control of everyone. If he loses their attention or trust, then the boys will overrule him or go back to Ralph, which is the last thing Ralph wants. This shows how vulnerable the boys are to Jack’s commands because they do whatever he wants. The savages would rather live in a fun environment, than one with rules and order, as proven because they went along with Jack. This proves how the authoritarian rule has countless problems. The chief must maintain command of every situation and think things through before jumping into anything. If he makes a wrong decision, his society can turn on him in an instant. This isn’t a healthy form of ruling because the boys are susceptible to anything Jack wants. Simon comes down the hill as the boys chant, sing, and dance. He is swallowed up by the circle of savages and ends up being killed, for the boys are hypnotized by Jack’s words of hunting wisdom. Not only does this hurt Simon, but also the boys because of their long-term denial and guiltiness. This shows how being told what to do by a dictator-type of person can lead to serious consequences. On the other hand Jack’s leadership is also powerful since the boys respond because they are afraid of what Jack might do to them if they left his tribe. Along with that, Jack convinces his controlled assemblage to take part in the stealing of Piggy’s glasses for the benefit of having a fire. Also, he forces Samneric into the tribe by having other boys beat them. Even though most of the boys would never have done this on their own or with each other, because Jack, the dictator, told them too, they are prone to do anything he wants. If the savages don’t listen to Jack, they’re scared of how Jack will react and if he will hurt them in return for not listening to him. In an authoritative government, people lack good judgment and are apt to do what they are told because they are frightened of the leader. At the end of the book Jack has his boys turned against Ralph completely, which is proven when Jack says, “ ‘See? They do what I want’ ” (17). This is harmful to obviously the group of boys, but also Jack because he is so blood thirsty for power. Even though at this point he has all the boys on this side, it is dangerous because they could turn on him at any time and realize what they’re doing is wrong. In reality it might seem that one person making the decisions for a group of people is strong leadership, but in Jack’s case it causes him many predicaments.


Although both systems seem to have negative qualities, Ralph’s structure of leadership seems more likely to stand the test of time. This is true because even though the boys sided with Jack in the end, throughout most of the book they respected Ralph’s assemblies and the conch. This held out much longer than the authoritative ways of Jack’s ruling. The problem with the boys is that they are followers and will do what everyone else does. Overall, both belief systems have a myriad of unconstructive problems with their form of ruling.


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