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Group Psychological Approach to Interpret Lord of the Flies  

2008-10-04 12:06:56|  分类: 我的作品 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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William Golding described a sad and astonishing story in Lord of the Flies. It goes beyond traditional realism and the conventional desert island adventure in at least three respects: in its view of man, its view of nature and its style. (Peter Tyson, 当代英国作家作品选集,P174) In the book, Jack stands for evil and he led other boys to kill Simon and Piggy and ran after Ralph. The questions are, why it is so easy for Jack to affect other boys, why the other boys didn’t have their own ideas, does it true that human beings are born to be evil?

     For Golding, man is evil by nature. This idea exists through the novel. The fact that human beings are evolved from animals has decided that human cannot shake off bestiality forever. So the question always is how much human shake off, the difference between bestiality and humanity. (Friedrich Engels) So when children reached the island at first, they wanted a leader and rule, they wanted to live like adults. At that time, they still thought Ralph’s words were right and they still regarded Ralph as their leader. When Jack wanted to change another leader, nobody responded him. “The silence continued, breathless and heavy and full of shame. Slowly the red drained from Jack’s cheeks, then came back with a painful rush.” Still now, most people were rational and stood with Ralph and rules. But later more and more boys went to stand with Jack because for them hunting seemed more interesting and attractive. They were just children, in their eyes, everything in this island was a game and that was funny. They began as a game but ends in a murder. Most of them even didn’t notice this change any more. This change had nothing to do with the society system they established at the beginning. The society system is a good one but when people decide to go against it, it is just a kind of rubbish. The moral is that the shape of a society must depend on the ethical nature of the individual and not on any political system however apparently logical or respectable. (William Golding, quoted by E.L Epstein,” Notes on Lord of the Flies”, in Flies, pp.277-78) For Golding, nature has an uncontrollable power of its own. Human nature change with the circumstance and the fact is that most people change but they never know what happens to themselves. So in the novel when boys lost imposed rules, their native nature had appeared. And the truth is human have a power that can destroy everything in the world.

Then the tragedy happened.

      The native evil of people is one of the reasons of tragedy, but not the most important one. I believe the group psychology is the main reason. When people stay in a group, he is easily affected by the other people. In a group, people will influenced by others’ emotion and action. For example, when you in a concert, soon you’ll find you are dancing with the music together with others. When you listen to other persons’ opinion before you vote, you’re sure to change your idea. There are many such phenomena in Lord of the Flies. At the beginning of the story, boys elected Ralph as their leader, even the Jack’s choir supported this decision. Because someone of them mentioned that Ralph had conch and he had aggregate everyone. Actually they knew each other little and they all affected by group psychology. Also at first, only young children thought there was a beast. Though latter everyone believed this because even some big children claimed that there was one. Only Simon had his own opinion and found the truth. But he was killed by the others; he can’t compete with a group of people. Boys’ turning to Jack also was affected by the atmosphere of the group. When more and more people felt hunting was more interesting, the left would think the same. The imaging beast was the source of children’s horror and the boundary of the whole story. It turns out that compared with Ralph’s wise administration and rules, Jack’s dictatorial, cold blood, wild and crazy had more deterrent force and control force towards children. (魏颖超,《英国荒岛文学》,P. 415) In a group, bloody and force always have greater influence. That’s why people are easily crazy about war.

     In a group people are also can be affected by others’ action. We can always notice that if one throws a bottle to the judge in a football game because he thinks the judgment is unfair, the other football fans will do the same thing, and at last it becomes violence. That’s what we usually call as the theory of broken window. The same thing happened in the Lord of the Flies, especially when they had celebration after they killed pigs. Jack was the leader and advised to dance and sing, but he couldn’t force all the boys to do this. The fact is when a person in a group he tends to lose his own character. Li Pen, a famous group psychologist in China explained that if one becomes a part of the group, he will reduce his cultural level. A man that staying alone may be a cultured man, but when he joins in a group, he will be a savage, be a man   controlled only by instinct. Roger is this kind of person. At first he was the guy even afraid of speaking loudly among people but later he became a cruel and bloody person. Also the leader is one of the people being led at the beginning, like Jack, he was hypnotized by the thought that hunting was the most important thing and he turned into this thought’s disseminator. He was so absorbed in this thought that everything outside means nothing to him and every opposite idea is ridiculous and wrong to him. So he never noticed the importance of signal fire and his mistake. However, no matter how ridiculous his thought was, his belief was so strong that he had lost all his logos.

   In the research of group psychology, scientists also find that when person in a group he is anonymous, nobody will know who do the bad thing, so people become unbridled. The savage crying and colored face help Jack and boys free their evil in their heart completely. They killed Simon but no one admitted or noticed it. Even the people stood for justice in this group can’t keep themselves. Ralph and Piggy couldn’t resist lure and ate meat that hunters gave twice. Under the impulse, Ralph even took part in the dancing. Also both Ralph and Piggy took part in the murder of Simon, but they wanted to cover it as an accident. Simon was the saint, the only one keep himself all the time, but he was first killed. In such group, saint had no chance to live, just like Jesus. These all are group psychological phenomenon.

    Evil is to people what honey is to bee. (Golding William, The Hot Gates New York, Harvest /HBJ Book, 1965, P.87) Golding also said that modern people’ main responsibility is to face their original features. Maybe only in this way people can get a little rid of group psychological effect. We will surveyed the evil and keep ourselves.

Reference:

1.《第二次世界大战以来的英国文学》,【德】豪斯特·W·特雷彻著,秦小孟译,上海外国语教育出版社,1985年2月.

2.《英国荒岛文学》,魏颖超著,外语教学与研究出版社,2001年10月.

3.《与威廉·戈尔丁的谈话》,杰克·丁·拜尔斯,纽约,哈科特·布拉斯·朱文诺维茨公司,1970年.

4.《现实主义之后:写实与实验》,陆建德主编,中国社会科学出版社,1997年10月.

5.《20世纪英国文学导读》,李公昭主编,西安交通大学出版社

6.《当代英国作家作品选析》,【英】彼得·泰森著,国际文化出版社,1987年1月.

7.《集体的社会心理学》,【苏】彼得罗夫斯基著,人民教育出版社出版,1984年版.

8.《乌合之众》,【法】古斯塔夫·勒庞著,冯克利译,中央编译出版社,2005年

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