“Lord of the flies” by William Golding
Lord of the Flies In a powerful piece of castaway fiction, William Goldings Lord of the Flies is an allegory of the conflict between civilization and savagery. He argues that mankind is a savage creature and civilization is only a thin skin enforced upon us by society. The theme is introduced very obviously when the plane carrying a group of well-bred English schoolboys crash lands on an island, leaving them deserted and without any adult supervision. Although at least some of them try to adhere to rules of civilization and order, the group quickly degenerates into a very savage tribal organization based on physical strength and brutality.
Within this allegory, the character of Ralph stands for the concept of civilization and the character of Jack to represent the side of savagery. When they regroup on the island, Ralph is elected as the community leader and Jack is established as the lead hunter. Throughout the story, Ralph continues to try to organize the boys for survival and rescue, but he is always stopped by Jacks increasing violence.
Ralph attempts to maintain civilized behavior through the use of the conch shell. It is he and Piggy, the representative of science and reasoning, who find the shell on the beach and use it the first time to call the boys together. After that, it becomes a kind of speaking staff, conferring authority to whoever holds the shell to speak in front of the group. By the time Roger rolls the boulder on top of Piggy and crushes the conch shell, even Ralphs civilized nature has started to slip as they have already killed Simon.
Through the character of Ralph and the symbol of the conch shell, Golding graphically and ruthlessly demonstrates his understanding of mankind as essentially a savage animal with a thin cover of civility.
“A Doll House” by Henrik Ibsen
Henrik Ibsen’s realistic play “A Doll’s House” is an early feminist play focusing on the theme of the status of women. Through the character of Nora, Ibsen explores what it means for women to be safely ensconced in the dollhouses their men provide for them.
As he provides a glimpse into the life Nora shares with Helmer, Ibsen reveals how women have been oppressed. In Act 3, she tells her husband, “it’s a great sin what you and papa did to me,” referring to the way in which she has been confined to child-like status by being denied any form of self-reliance.
The subjugation of women in this society is revealed through Nora as well, as her character is defined through the eyes of her husband. In their interactions, Helmer continues to treat Nora as if she were a favorite pet or a disobedient child. His pet names for her are objectifying and characterizing his opinions regarding her personality. He refers to her as a ‘lark’, a ‘little squirrel’ and ‘a little featherhead’ (Act I).
However her husband thinks of her, Nora has a great deal of strength in her. Her final act within the play is to reject the dollhouse shes been given in order to discover what she can make of herself on her own terms, defined by her own boundaries. Helmers inability to appreciate her true skills cause her to seize freedom over security.
In showing how Nora’s character is constantly undervalued and how her perfect little dollhouse has become a trap, Ibsen argues that women need greater freedoms for self-expression and self-realization. As he shows through Nora, women are equally as capable and resourceful as men at managing their own lives.