Character Analysis of Jack Merridew

Character Analysis of Jack Merridew

By: Sean MacDougall

 

In the novel Lord of The Flies by William Golding, Jack is like a disease and the fear he instills infects everyone on the island. He wants to be a leader, to have power and has a personality comparable to Hitler or Stalin. His presence terrifies people and keeps them bent around his will. Jack’s character is the embodiment of evil and has malicious qualities; he uses fear to control the boys, manipulates them with their wants and desires and has a unique force that drives him.

Fear controls us. After watching a scary movie what keeps a person hugging their pillow and not rolling over? Fear. Jack uses fear to control the boys in two ways. Firstly, by application of his menacing personality. The boys are afraid of Jack because of what he can do to them. Killing pigs seems to be a necessary practice for Jack, but why? One could say that Jack has a demon inside of him or a dark passenger and if its needs are not fulfilled it unleashes its fury on everyone around him. The boys find hunting a fun adventure but for Jack it is a ritual.  This ritual extends out of hunting in the form of the dance, that substitutes out pigs for real people. The fear holds the boys in place because if they fall out of line or defy Jack they could find themselves in the center of the dance next. But the hand of Jack’s demon extends to all the boys, and Jack’s mentality of violence is what fuels their fear. The second way in which Jack uses fear as a means of control is the beast. This idea of a beast on the island was thought up by a little one but Jack harnessed the boy’s instinctive fear of it for his advantage. The offerings, the spears and the face painting were all designed to empower the boys and give them a sense of protection. For example, face painting being a near pointless practice besides for camouflage but because Jack did it first and gave everyone the idea that they could be a bunch of tribal savages and their behavior eventually mirrored that. Also it made them become something they’re not and that they can fight fear by being feared themselves.“Fancy thinking the beast was something you could hunt and kill” said the lord of the flies (pg 158). The beast is within all of them and it radiated from the fear Jack created.

The world is built on corruption. And what fuels corruption? Temptation. Lapses in judgment are created by our greed for more than what we really need. Jack has a greed for power, this is inside him and he cannot control this. But he understands this and he does what is necessary to keep it happy. He also understands how temptation works. By providing the pig meat for the boys he created  an army of followers that will blindly obey his every word and fulfill his lust for power. On page 164, Jack is portrayed as a god-like figure with the boys catering to his every need. It is strange that the boys treat him in this manner just because he feeds them and that their minds are so weak that they don’t even question what is wrong with this situation. This luxury of pig meat even managed to corrupt two of the stronger-willed individuals, Piggy and Ralph. The dance was an example of how Jack’s influence over the boys escalated to such a degree so quickly and how their ability to perceive sanity deteriorated after their needs had been satisfied.

In communist Russia, Stalin would make people stand and clap for hours on end in his presence and the first person to stop was shot. He did not just want respect, he demanded it. Some people have a spark inside them and when it ignites it enables them to do anything they want and get there by any means necessary. The people with the “spark” are people that when defeated have the strength to get back to the top. Within their ego rests this unbreakable force of determination and grit. Jack, upon arrival to the island did not have his spark ignited but he knew what he wanted; control and power. When he first failed to kill the pig, “I was going to, I was choosing a place. Next time -!”(pg.29) it was not because he was scared. It was the initial shock of being snatched out of civilized live and thrust into the harsh reality of primitive survival. After this his true self lay dormant no more and the situation that the boys were in was the perfect opportunity to unleash it. The majority of the boys with the exception of, Piggy, Ralph, Simon, Roger and of course Jack have defined personalities. The rest of the boys are faceless but the key to power. Jack’s ego and promises overthrew that of Ralph’s and ultimately is what brought the island to its final state in a mold of Jack’s personality.

            Jack’s character is an enigma for we do not know what drives his need to kill or his “take no prisoners” need for power. Fear, manipulation and leadership qualities were the tools Jack used to assume power and shape the boys into his image. In the end, when things unraveled, Jack broke down and denied that he caused this madness (pg 224). Possibly the fact that Jack did not own up to his actions could show a change in his mindset beginning to bloom.

 

 

 

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