Compare and Contrast Ralph and Jack

Lord of the flies is a novel about a group of boys who are lost on an island in the middle of the ocean. It is written by William Golding. Two of the key characters in the novel are Ralph and Jack, they have completely dissimilar characteristics and this essay will compare those two characters.

The first time we see the two characters of Ralph and Jack contrast is in chapter one. The readers read that when Ralph first appeared on the island he was wearing his school sweater. Slowly because of the heat he took it off and 'trailed it... from one hand'. The fact that Ralph shows no respect for his clothes tells the reader that he is an ordinary school boy who does not yet care about his appearance. As a result of this he is not self conscious and thereby innocent. In contrast, Jack and his choir's, `bodies, from throat to ankle, were hidden by black cloaks which bore a long silver cross...`. Their dark clothes are menacing and hint about them being savages in the future. Their clothing is extremely unsuitable for their new surroundings and they soon take them off. Jack is also clearly the leader of the choir, as he is wearing a golden cap. He over exercises his authority and hurls orders at his choir boys.

The readers also work out from this first chapter that Ralph was brought up in the Home Counties. Golding writes that Ralph, '...jerked his stockings with an automatic gesture that made the jungle seem for a moment like the Home Counties'. We can assume that Ralph, coming from the Home Counties, was brought up in a middle class background. This `automatic gesture` also tells the reader that he is naturally reassuring even in these strange set of circumstances. His natural reassurance is shown again later on when, 'he saw two little-uns and, not having any idea own appearance , wondered why they screamed and ran`. He calm nature in these bizarre events show how innocent and immature he is.

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Ralph's immatureness is shown further when he finds out that there are no grown ups on the island, `the delight of realised ambition came over him. In the middle of the scar he stood on his head`. Ralph celebrates the fact that there are no adults on the island by standing on his head. Ralph standing on his head symbolises how their lives have been reversed. It also shows what an immature and innocent character Ralph is. Jack's attitude is completely different, he thinks because he has authority back in school it should be transferred to the island. He arrogantly says that he should be chief, "because I'm chapter chorister and head boy. I can sing C-sharp". We constantly see Jack trying to be the omnipotent leader. He even `protests` against democracy.

One way in which both the characters of Ralph and Jack are similar in chapter is the way in which they treat Piggy. Ralph at first ignored Piggy for, `when the fat boy waited to be asked his name in turn but this offer of acquaintance was not made...`, Ralph did not care for him at this point and finds him rather tiresome. In-fact he even mocks him by teasing him about his "Ass-mar". Ralph considers Piggy to be inferior to him as he is middle-class whilst Piggy is lower-class.

Jack also hated him from the beginning, he constantly bullies him by saying things like, "shut up fatty" in-fact he did not even give him a chance. Jack bullies Piggy to make himself seem important, this shows to the reader that Jack is a bully at heart - this unfortunately does not change as the novel progresses. Ralph also betrays Piggy by telling Jack that his, "His real name's Piggy". Ralph betrays Piggy's trust and confidence. Ralph acts in this way to gain popularity with Jack and his cronies as they are upper-class and he is middle-class. Therefore he looks up to them.

Piggy being from a working class background finds life sociably difficult. In comparison Ralph and Jack, who obviously come from a more educated and wealthy background, automatically see themselves as superior.

Piggy is also physically frail, because of his asthma, and needs Ralph to constantly look after him on the island. Ralph immaturity is shown again when in his eagerness to swim he runs and, `in a few moments the fat boy's grunts were right behind him...`. Ralph's enthusiasm to swim causes him to leave Piggy behind. Ralph chooses fun over common sense, whilst Piggy tries to be sensible. Ralph immaturity is shown when he, 'stood there naked looking at the dazzling beach and sea'. Ralph shedding his clothes tells the reader that he is still very much a child and is not worried or self conscious about what others may think of him.

Ralph's nakedness also tells us that he is innocent and childlike; as a result he is very naive. Being naked in `paradise`, metaphorically reminds the reader of Adam and Eve being naked in the Garden of Eden. If Jack had been around he would have thought it maybe gay or babyish to strip naked in front of everyone because he did not know such innocence as Ralph did. We see that Jack is much more mature and less innocent then Ralph.

However, the readers also see that Jack is still very much a school boy who possesses fear and morals. We read that `Jack's face was white under the freckles. He noticed that he still held the knife aloft...`. Jack cannot bring himself to kill the pig; he is still a civilised school boy who is squeamish about blood.

Ralph immaturity is shown further when he shows disrespect towards normal aspects of democracy. Piggy constantly warns Ralph that he should be "Careful! You'll break it!" Ralph is warned how fragile the conch is by Piggy and is irritated by the warning. The conch is symbolic of order, rules and democracy. Therefore Ralph's careless attitude towards it shows he does not yet understand the great importance of democracy and civilisation. This also shows that Ralph does not appreciate the good value of common-sense. Jack also shows no appreciation for democracy as he protested when they voted for a leader. However, this is out of pure greed of power - not immaturity.

In the last chapter of the novel, Ralph's character is shown to have taken a complete metamorphosis. A clear example of this is when Ralph exclaims, "How could you listen for naked feet if you're splashing around in the water?". In the first chapter Ralph swam in the water without a care in the world. However, now things have changed, Ralph is petrified for his life since Jack and Roger are trying to kill him. These painted savages will do anything Jack or Roger tell them to do, out of fear of being put to death. It seems that terror and danger has changed the immature outlook which Ralph had in life that we see in Chapter One.

We also see that the way the other characters treat Ralph has also altered from the beginning of the novel. The younger children who admired and loved him previously in Chapter One, ignored and mistreated him. This is shown when, 'he saw two little-uns and ... wondered why they screamed and ran`. Ralph has now become too immersed in his emotions due to the sorrows of his current life. This makes Ralph an unrecognisable figure for the younger children.

In Chapter One the whole island was on the whole united in their aims. Now, because of Jack and Ralph's rift, the island is now split into two territories. Jack and Ralph each have their `end of the island`. This split lets Jack party and bully the `little-uns` in peace without Ralph and Rodger's interference.

We also see that Ralph's character in Chapter One whose, `...mouth and eyes that proclaimed no devil`, has totally changed. He has transformed from being a young innocent child to one that is now wild and fears death at every corner. Ralph's experiences have taught him to be ruthless and not to be so trusting and naive. This is shown when he vents his anger at the pig's skull. Golding tells us that 'he lashed out and cried out with loathing...'. Ralph destroys the pig's skull in the same way that Jack and Roger destroyed the conch. This represents both clans rejection of rules and democracy. The pig skull is the `lord of the flies` as it attracts flies. It also represents evil, so therefore when Ralph destroys it is considered as if he has removed most of the evilness from the island.

In the last chapter Jack's hatred towards Ralph reaches its climax, "They (Jack and Roger) hate you Ralph. They're going to kill you". Jack hates Ralph because Ralph just wants to be rescued, which means you need rules. However, Jack and Roger just want to be free and have no rules or democracy.

In addition Jack also wants to kill Ralph because Ralph took away his leadership and as a result he is extremely jealous.

Upon being rescued by a group of naval officers, 'The officer inspected the little scarecrow in front of him. The kid needed a bath, a hair-cut, a nose wipe and a good deal of ointment'. The readers are reminded here that despite Ralph going through this horrible ordeal, he is still ultimately a child. This reminds the reader of Ralphs's character in Chapter One when he looked innocent and childlike and looked at everything with, `bright exciting eyes`. One could see how the events of the novel have changed Ralph's character. However, Golding's description of his appearance when he was found by the naval officers, remind the reader that he is still physically a child.

In conclusion when comparing Jack and Ralph's characters in the first and last chapter in the novel, one can see that the main differences are that Jack is more conventional and conformist where Ralph is more easy going and a little rebellious who is always on the look out for adventure and danger. However, Ralph would like to be rescued by others where as Jack would like to make his own 'gang' and would thrive on his own leadership.

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Character Analysis of Ralph and Jack

Character analysis of ralph and jack (contrast and comparison).

character analysis Ralph vs-Jack

Character analysis of Ralph and Jack: Contrast & Comparison

The novel, Lord of the Flies, depicts war between civilization and savagery. Ralph, in the novel, stands for civilization and democratic values whereas Jack stands for savagery. Ralph represents leadership, the properly socialized and civilized young man. On the other hand, Jack represents evil and violence, the dark side of human nature. Ralph is the hero of the novel as in traditional novels whereas Jack is a true villain of the novel who played a villainous role throughout the novel. Ralph believes in democratic principles of election through voting. Initially, when boys opt Ralph, their leader, Jack, like a dictator, rejects the voting and asks boys to make him their leader but Ralph pacifies him by giving him the charge of hunters.

Character Analysis of Ralph

Ralph is an attractive, charismatic, and decently intelligent young boy and demonstrates obvious common sense. Ralph’s sense of priorities represents his leader-like traits when he focuses on making shelters, sanitizations, and other rules for a civilized society. His capacity for command and leadership is apparent from the very start. His first speech reveals that he is a responsible leader and can command the boys well. He does not set rules only, but he equally follows all the rules of the island unlike Jack who feels himself free from rules of the island. 

Being a true leader, his concerns for shelter and signal fire are of vital importance. Ralph works cautiously and attentively to keep the group’s focus on the hope for rescue. He does not dictate but takes part in every activity from making shelters to gathering woods for fire. Being a good commander, he also reprimands boys when they lack their responsibilities for their duties. When the time comes to prove leadership he leads like a leader. While investigating the castle rock, he leads alone, despite his fear of the so-called beast. During the panic caused by Sam and Eric by sighting a dead paratrooper on the mountain, only Ralph can proceed with both sense and caution. He was the only boy who feels both loathing over the murder of Simon he witnessed.

Ralph represents himself a boy of character and sensitivity. He has compassion, authority, integrity, courage. He also has a clear awareness of the values of civilization. He struggles for what is good against what is wrong. However, with his rescue we experience that good will ultimately be rescued from the clutches of evil. His rescue represents that good will eventually prevail in the world.

Character Analysis of Jack

The Jack represents the instinct of savagery, desires for power and violence. His desire of power leads him to a journey from a civilized man to a savage beast. In his lust for power, he does everything for his benefit by manipulating every situation. He is keen to make rules and reprimand those who break them, although he deliberately breaks them himself when he needs to further his own benefit. There is no word like sympathy in his dictionary. When Simon faints or littluns get ill; he shows no concern. He says that if there were a shortage of pigs, they would have to kill a littluns.

His main interest lies in hunting and killing living creatures. Hunting increases his inner instinct of the savagery that already ran close to his personality. The conflict on the island begins When Ralph focuses on working for civilization but Jack attempts to dominate the hunter group rather than working with Ralph. He frequently breaks the rule of the conch, stating that such rules do not matter. When there is his own advantage, he makes use of conch.

The dictator in Jack becomes dominant and to get Ralph impeached, he narrates his hunting skills and importance of meat for the boys that Ralph cannot fulfill. And tell to boys that “He’d never have got us meat.” He asserts that such hunting skills make him an effective leader of the boys. When he gains power, he denounces and breaks every rule of the island. He declares, “We don’t need the conch anymore. We know who ought to say things.” He finally gets what he wants. His tribe calls him as “Chief,” showing a way of more primitive tribal leadership.

   William Golding: Lord of the Flies

  • Introduction and brief story of Lord of the Flies
  • Introduction to main characters in Lord of the Flies
  • Summary of the Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • Character analysis of Ralph and Jack

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Compare and contrast Ralph and Jack as leaders

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Compare and Contrast Ralph and Jack as characters and leaders

Ralph and Jack signify different themes and ideas throughout ‘The Lord of the Flies’. They both have different personalities but in some aspects they are similar. For example, they both want to be leaders, but they want to lead in different ways. The two boys are from typical English public schools so their background is similar yet their personalities contrast. Ralph is calm and fair; he represents order, leadership and civilisation. On the other hand Jack is very authoritative and represents unbridled savagery and desire for power. As the book progresses we see these traits becoming even stronger in Jack, as if he were a dictator like Hitler from the Second World War, which was when the ‘Lord of the Flies’ was set.

When Ralph first finds himself stranded on the island, it is as if he couldn’t care less as to how he got there. The fact that he has just survived a plane crash, in which many adults have died in, does not seem to bother him at all. The first thing he does is rip off all his clothes and swim in the lagoon. This is quite childish behaviour and the fact that he is ripping off all his clothes shows that he is already starting to stray away from civilisation. It is not until Piggy finds him and starts asking intellectual questions as to how they got there and whether there is anyone else on the island that he starts to vaguely consider the situation. As the book progresses Jack emerges with his choir. It is obvious that he is in control, ‘he shouted an order and they halted’. This shows he is an authoritative figure and the impression is given that he is controlling an army. Even though the two boys have not met, it is immediately clear that there are differences between them. Ralph is calmer and quite happy to take everything in his stride, whereas Jack remains in his choir uniform and still acts with a large sense of responsibility despite the fact he is hundreds of miles away from civilisation.

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Ralph is democratic and more thoughtful. For example, before anything happens about being rescued he says ‘we ought to have a chief to decide things.’ Jack shows his arrogance emerges when he replies, ‘I ought to be chief’, as if he was a dictator without any care for other people’s opinions. In reply Ralph uses his democratic approach and decides, ‘Let’s have a vote’. Ralph’s decision to have a vote shows how fair he is and his approach to become a leader is democratic. On the other hand, it is clear that Jack is very self-centred and is prepared to push for the position of leader even if it happens in a manner not popular with the other boys. The situation of the Second World War is being reflected in the two boys’ contrasting personalities.

As the time that is spent on the island advances, Jack’s savage traits start to emerge. For example, when he goes hunting he lets the boys go off swimming whilst he continues. Unfortunately he catches nothing and goes back to camp. He describes the situation to Ralph, ‘I went on. I thought, by myself’ … ‘the madness came into his eyes again’ … ‘I thought I might kill’. Jack’s true traits are starting to emerge. His savage instinct is starting to become apparent; he is described as having madness in his eyes. He is starting to have a ‘compulsion’ to hunt and kill that was not apparent before because society and civilisation keeps people in control but when they are set free from this their natural or basic instincts start to emerge. However this is not true of everyone, Ralph has continued to remain calm and civilised;, building huts on the beach with Piggy, his advisor. His natural instincts are not savage but to try to find a means of remaining safe and being rescued.

Throughout the book Ralph relies on Piggy to help him with many decisions. The idea to blow the conch so that other boys would emerge from the island was Piggy’s idea as well as the idea to use his glasses to start the fire on the mountain. Piggy’s pragmatic and intellectual approach to the situation they are in helps Ralph yet sometimes the boys do not listen to him, especially Jack. Jack has a very autocratic approach and feels he can make the correct decisions himself. His decline into savagery becomes apparent due to this and results in him punching Piggy and eventually killing him. For example after Piggy notices there is no smoke he tells Ralph but there is not much they can do, as the boys who were supposed to be watching the fire had gone hunting. Soon enough they notice a large group of figures coming down the beach chanting, ‘Kill the pig, Cut her throat. Spill her blood’. Jack is part of this group and it is apparent that the other boys have also acquired a lust for killing and hunting. However, Piggy drives Jack to violence by saying, ‘You didn’t ought to have let that fire out, you said you’d keep the smoke going’. After this Jack hits Piggy; Jack has lost the self control that was in place before he was held back from violence due to the moral trappings of society.

Later on in the book, Jack’s leadership starts to become more appealing to the boys. The lifestyle he is offering them with meat and protection from the beast is compelling for them in some aspects, ‘To-night we’re having a feast. We’ve killed a pig and we’ve got meat. You can come and eat with us if you like’. Eventually all the boys start to switch to Jack as their leader. The boys have lost sight of what being civilise means and just want to follow a leader who offers a simple way of life; hunting, food and safety in the tribe. Ralph starts to give up hope, ‘So we can’t have a signal fire … We’re beaten’. The two boys’ contrasting opinions and aims are in competition and at the beginning of the book when society and civilisation was still in the minds of many of the boys they were prepared to have Ralph as their leader. However, as time has passed and their sense of civilisation has gradually disappeared the longer they are away from it, they have resorted to Jack for fun and a preferred lifestyle.

In some aspects Ralph and Jack are alike as leaders because they both want to get their own way.  However their aims are different, Jack wants to hunt and Ralph wants to be rescued. Jack is the autocratic, less caring leader whereas Ralph is democratic and tries to do what is best for all the boys. In the end it turns out that the boys would prefer to be led by Jack. Golding is suggesting that it doesn’t matter who you are, even if you are from a privileged public school background, without the influences of society we will decline into savagery and our true natural instincts will emerge.

Compare and contrast Ralph and Jack as leaders

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