His majesty of flies is the most famous work of the British William Golding. It was published in 1954. It did not have a great repercussion in its time but was revalued in the years that followed, eventually turning into a classic postwar English literature. This work was presented to the cinema twice, in 1963 and in 1990.
It's actually an allegory of human nature in which each character represents an important aspect of the individuals and which explores the creation of a society by children from nothing. How are roles awarded? how do you choose the leader?
The scenario begins with the occurrence of a plane crash near a desert island. The passengers on this plane are children. Survivors will have to organize themselves to survive and try to be rescued. On an island, in the middle of nowhere, where norms do not exist and which is populated by children; a new society is emerging. Through the novel, we discover the way in which wickedness appears in any individual, regardless of age. His majesty of flies is a journey to wickedness, to the different faces that human nature can present.
"People are never totally like we think they are."
-His majesty of flies-
Children, leaders and allegory
The title of the work is partly an allegory since it refers to Beelzebub, the demon. In the novel, we can find the image of evil with the head of a wild boar that children place on a spear. The head is in a state of decomposition and is surrounded by flies.
Arriving on the island, theChildren unite with the hope of surviving and being found as soon as possible. Thus, they prove the fact that the human being is social by nature. Be it because of the conditioning that comes from the society where they grew up or because of the fear and instinct of survival; the children decide to choose a leader in a democratic way. The leader is Ralph. He is not the smartest child, but he is agile, strong and generates a certain amount of confidence in others.
What could have been an opportunity to challenge adults and demonstrate that children can be more just and rational eventually turns into a real disaster. From the moment the leader is chosen, the rivalry arises and consequently the hatred also which will lead to a tragic and uncontrolled situation. Without adults, without laws, it is they who decide:
- Ralph: he is the leader chosen by the other children. He represents democracy, his intentions are good and he wants the children to stay together. He decides to keep a fire lit in the hope of being seen and rescued. Despite his good intentions, he still consults Piggy and eventually loses control and leadership.
- Jack: it's the opposition of Ralph, another born but authoritarian leader. He is the oldest of the group. Having spent less time at school than Ralph, he is not a leader and it bothers him. His attitude is arrogant and pessimistic. He has lost hope of being saved and little by little he falls into irrationality by becoming more and more violent. He scares other children and forces them to join him.
- Piggy: his name means little pig. It is the main target of teasing because of its appearance and its asthmatic condition. However, he's one of the smartest characters. It represents rationality but its appearance and poor physical condition prevent it from reaching the role of leader. Despite this, Ralph trusts him completely and always asks for help.
- Simon: in the same way as Piggy, he is not in good health. He is a reserved child who is described as strange. However, he shows great sensitivity, especially towards animals. This revealing character discovers "His majesty of flies "and can be likened to a bearer of truth.
- Roger: it's one of the characters that evolve the most. At first, he is on Ralph's side and at the end he becomes Jack's right hand. Roger seems to be a quiet and timid child but he quickly discovers a new facet at home. Seeing that the laws do not exist and that none of these acts can be condemned, he resorted to violence.
These children establish a hierarchy, an order inspired by the world they know, but it will break down and become more and more radical. Faced with fear, they do not need a rational leader, but a strong leader who can provide them with peace and food.
"What are we, people, animals, savages?"
-His majesty of flies-
The nature of evil inhis majesty of flies
His majesty of flies claims to destroy Rousseau who said that the human being in his natural state is endowed with goodness and does not know the wickedness, according to him it is the society that corrupted him and converted him into someone bad. In the novel, we are witnessing the opposite. The children are free, they are in a totally natural state, but because of the absence of a society, because of the lack of norms, they allow themselves to be led by this bad nature by acting totally irrationally.
The other face that would be contradicted would be Hobbes. He defends the fact that society regulates wickedness and allows us to behave rationally. In Golding's work, it is understandable that even if you have tried to choose a leader and establish a society, children can not avoid feeling that they are free on the island and therefore are not obliged to obey no one.
We see that at first they try to imitate the behavior of the world they know: that of adults. They find a shell that will turn into a democratic symbol and they will use to leave the word to others. They will organize to keep the flame burning, to find food and work together, but this democratic utopia will eventually become a failure.
Some children see the island as a dream place, without parents, without teachers … Why should they obey? Why should they act according to rules? Leaders will play a crucial role and children will choose their party until the outbreak of war.
A rumor stating that a beast lives on the island will scare children and push them to support the strongest. Others will feel the freedom of power to give free rein to their wildest instincts. Thus, the island at first sight paradise will become an authentic locus terribilis of destruction.
"It's our island, we can entertain ourselves until adults come to pick us up."
-His majesty of flies-
His majesty of flies, reflections
The movie Her majesty of flies does not only evoke human nature or the loss of innocence but also the organization of society. In their own way, these children establish a hierarchy in its totality within which we can discover different roles that remind us quite well the real world.
Children will divide, as we can see through political parties. They will fight each other like in wars and leave aside rationality. They do not promote intelligence and do not seek a leader who follows reason but rather a leader who protects them from their fears.
All this reminds us of the world as we know it and the way we choose our leaders. This prompts us to question the true or possible existence of democracy. By evoking democracy, we are referring to this world in which everyone has a voice, this utopia initially followed by the children that they eventually destroyed.
"They have to realize that fear can not hurt them more than dreams."
-His majesty of flies-