English coursework, James Luxton
Explore the ways in which bullies and victims are presented in Lord of the Flies and DNA. Bullies and Victims play vital roles in both the novel and the play. The authors, Golding and Kelly, both put their characters through similar trials. In Lord of the Flies, Golding’s characters turn from normal school boys, to savages who are prepared to kill one another to gain power. Golding suggests that under certain circumstances, people will naturally begin to become more violent and savage. In DNA the characters are thrust into a world of secrecy where they have to cover things up to save themselves, Kelly himself wrote this; ‘I don’t think I write characters who are bad, I think I write characters who are trying to do the right thing, but are failing’. Kelly gives no description to the lives of his characters before the death of Adam, suggesting that they may have lead innocent lives, but they have been thrust into a world of violence that spirals out of control. In Lord of the Flies, Golding impresses upon the reader how children’s judgements of their peers are based around their physical appearance which will directly impact whether they are seen as possible leaders or victims. In contrast, Kelly gives us no description of his characters’ appearance and offers no real clear reason why Adam is the victim; in this way the violence is less readily understood, and ultimately more frightening. Golding clearly demonstrates to the reader how physical appearance effects a character’s treatment in the opening chapter of Lord of the Flies.
Even though they have just survived a plane crash and are apparently the only survivors on the island, Ralph constantly snubs Piggy; based on the fact that Piggy is fat, has asthma, and also wears glasses. Ralph shuns him, despite Piggy being incredibly intelligent, and it is Piggy who suggests most of the things for the boys to do, such as using the conch to call an assembly. Ralph doesn’t realise the true value of Piggy until after his death. ‘There was no Piggy to talk sense’ shows Ralph’s despair. When he really needed help, Piggy was always there to offer advice, whereas now, after his death, Ralph doesn’t know what to do. Through this Golding is inferring that people judge others solely on their appearance, and people who appear weak will always be targeted by society, no matter how intelligent they are. In complete contrast, Kelly gives the reader no description of any character in DNA, and in fact no description of the scenery.
Kelly gives no clear indication of why Adam is the victim, which suggests that any other one of the characters in the play may have been the victim, and on a much wider scale, it suggests that anybody in society may be susceptible to becoming a victim; this makes the violence that the group inflict on Adam much more frightening, because we are more likely to think that this could even happen to us. Kelly shows us through his depiction of Adam just how desperate some people are to become part of a group. Adam must continually show loyalty to them all in order to feel safe. They become so desperate to be popular and accepted by people, they are willing to do anything for the group or the people in power; to the point where they are literally willing to risk their lives. Kelly also depicts just how far a group of ‘bullies’ will go to test loyalty. The group made Adam ‘run across the motorway’ and ‘nick some Vodka’; these criminal and life-threatening activities were readily undertaken by Adam even though Jan acknowledges that ‘you could tell he was scared’. Alarmingly, the group were simply testing ‘how far he’ll go’. Kelly demonstrates how groups can manipulate people and exploit their fear and desperation to belong rather than be alone. . Kelly shows this through Mark when he says ‘we can make him do, we can make him do-‘ Mark’s repletion and unfinished sentence suggests that he was possibly so uncomfortable with what was done that he struggles to fully acknowledge it.
Although he claims that they were ‘having a laugh, really, he was laughing’, his words give him away. He sounds as if he is trying to convince himself and the separation of the word’ really’ makes him sound desperate. Golding also suggests to the reader just how desperate people are to become part of a group, and how in some situations, becoming part of a group may literally be a life and death decision. Ralph, Jack and Simon set out to explore the island, and Piggy suggests to Ralph that he should go too, because he ‘was with him when he found the conch’ and he ‘was with him before anyone else was’. Ralph seemingly tries to put Piggy down gently by saying ‘you’re no good on a job like this’ implying, again, because Piggy is fat and has asthma, he won’t be able to keep up and he will be a burden to the other boys. In contrast Jack is blunter with Piggy. He simply says ‘we don’t want you, three’s enough’. In this, Jack shows obvious contempt for Piggy. When he firsts speaks to Piggy all he has to offer is ‘you’re talking too much, shut up fatty’. Jack’s obvious loathing of Piggy is evident throughout the novel.
Through Jack’s first contact with Piggy it strengthens the idea that children judge people solely on looks, and as well as this it is obvious that the constant name calling and bullying of Piggy will render him the victim of the boys throughout the novel. Both Golding and Kelly alarm their readers with evidence of real violence from the bullies to their chosen victims. Violence with stones occurs both in Lord of the Flies and DNA, but they have different consequences. In Lord of the Flies the violent acts begins with Maurice and Roger kicking through the littleuns’ sandcastles. Before the arrival of Roger and Maurice, the littleuns’ seem content with being detached from the other boys. Three boys played on the beach, ‘if not happily, at least with absorbed attention’. Golding suggests that the littleuns’ had nothing else to do besides eat, sleep and play, so the novelty of the being able to do anything has worn off, but ‘with absorbed attention’ indicates they still posses the innocence of childhood, so they carry on playing regardless. In contrast, once Roger and Maurice had kicked over their sandcastles, the littleuns’ seemed disinterested, ‘so they made no protest’. Maurice kicks sand into Percival’s eyes, and his reaction to doing this is interesting. Maurice feels guilt through the description of his actions. Instead of staying with Roger, ‘he muttered something about a swim and broke into a trot’. The use of the word ‘muttered’ is significant because it infers that Maurice is trying to create excuses for himself, which shows unease at his actions. In his decision to run to the boys who are swimming, Golding shows that Maurice wants to detach himself from Roger. It is also noteworthy that he runs away from Roger towards the other boys, inferring that Maurice wishes to distance himself from Roger and the possibility of further actions.
Johnny, one of the other littleuns’ playing around the sandcastles, then begins to copy the actions of Maurice; he begins to throw sand into Percival’s eyes. This is reminiscent of the Bandura experiment of 1977, in which he placed an adult in a room with a young child. The adult was given a Bobo doll, which he was told to abuse repeatedly in the presence of the child. The adult then left and the Bobo doll was given to the child. Over time the child would begin the re-enact the actions of the adult, the child would begin to abuse the Bobo doll; this suggests that children are influenced by a person in authority, and that they will copy their actions. Johnny repeats the actions undertaken by Maurice, and this suggests that natural order on the island is beginning to weaken, and that aggression and violence is taking over, now even the youngest children on the island are beginning to experiment with violence. Golding then demonstrates this experimentation of violence through Roger’s ‘stalking’ of Henry, the third littleun’ that was playing around the sandcastles. Henry ‘wandered off along the beach’, he detaches himself from the rest of group, in this sense his exposes himself and leaves himself vulnerable, but in doing this it shows the reader that he still posses childhood innocence and naivety. Roger follows Henry, hiding in the shadows along the beach. Golding creates and air of menace around roger through his ‘stalking’ of Henry.
As well as this he suggests to the reader that Roger has no fear, when coconuts ‘as big as rugby balls’ , ‘fell about him with a series of hard thumps’. This lack of care for his own safety is frightening because he doesn’t think in the expected way of a young child. The violent acts Roger then commits are frightening because they are simply not expected of a young child. Roger ‘picked up a stone, aimed, and threw it at Henry-threw to miss’. But then he doesn’t stop there. He continues with these violent acts, he gathers ‘a handful of stones and began to throw them’. Roger’s violent acts tell the reader that now almost all of the expected childhood innocence has gone, and that the victims are starting to become apparent. The young, weaker children will be picked on because they are ‘batty’ and even some of the older boys such as Piggy and Simon will be targeted by looks and personalities. The violence on the island becomes more real and much more terrifying because the violence that would normally be expected of adults is being carried out by young children. In DNA the use of stones is much more violent, to the point where it leads to a death. The group continue to humiliate Adam, and they continue to test his loyalty to the group. They ‘went up the grille.’ They force Adam to climb a fence and go walk over a grille covering a hole. This alone is potentially life threatening to Adam. The group see that he is scared, and the group mind set is simply to taunt him and to humiliate him. They then being to start ‘pegging’ stones at him. The use of the word ‘pegging’ is important because it suggest to the reader that the group are actually trying to hit Adam ‘just for a laugh’. Even when the stones hit Adam directly on the head, they carry on laughing at him, because ‘the shock on his face is so…funny.’
When Adam slips and falls into the hole underneath the grille, that’s when it becomes evident that Mark, the character describing the ‘stoning’, realises the consequences of their actions. He repeats ‘so he’s…’ a number of times. It is clear that he is unable to come to terms with the fact that he has participated in a murder, and it takes John Tate, the assumed leader of the group, who earlier banned the word ‘dead’, to finish Mark’s sentence. ‘Dead. He’s dead’. In Lord of the Flies the same violent symbol is used by Jack and Roger. The sharpening of a stick at both ends. The symbol first comes into use after the ‘hunters’ kill a pig. He orders Roger to ‘ram on end in the earth’. After doing this, Jack, who has decapitated that dead pig, then ‘jammed the soft throat down on the pointed end if the stick’ this is the first real sign that the boys have transcended into savages. Jack then says ‘it’s a gift’ for the beast. Through this it suggests that the boys want to pacify the ‘beast’, and in killing the pig and offering its head it’s almost as if they are worshiping it, as if it has become like a god in which they must pay tribute to. When Roger sharpens the stick at two ends, the meaning of this is much more menacing. The boys have now turned into savages, after the deaths of Piggy and Simon, Jack is adamant that Ralph must be captured, and it is evident that Ralph will eventually be killed after torture if he is caught. Ralph is hiding from the rest of the boys, but he meets Sam’n’Eric one night so he can find out what will happen to him.
At first the twins are reluctant to tell him what Jack has planned, but then came ‘the incomprehensible reply’, ‘Roger sharpened a stick a both ends’. Ralph is unable to see the true meaning in this, but it is obvious to the reader that Jack wants the same fate for Ralph, as the pigs head earlier in the novel. Roger throughout the novel is presented as the ruthless bully, from when he was throwing stones at Henry, he was the one who released the rock that killed Piggy, and now it is clear that he has been ordered to literally bring back Ralph’s head. The most frightening moment in DNA comes as a threat from Cathy once she has found Adam. She finds him ‘living in a hedge’ and after she tries to coax him out, Cathy openly admits that she ‘used violence’, she ‘threatened to gouge one of his eyes out’ this is a reference to Shakespeare’s King Lear when Goneril and Reagan rip out Gloucester’s eyes. Cathy throughout the play is shown to be the most frightening character. She is solely motivated by becoming famous through interviews after Adams memorial, she says ‘it’s quite exciting’, suggesting that she enjoys the violence of the situation and she is enjoying the spot light. She has no consideration for Adam’s well being, she is self absorbed.
In Richard’s speech at the end of the play, he tells Phil that Cathy is ‘insane’, and that ‘She cut a first year’s finger off’. Cathy and Roger are similar in that they both seem to enjoy inflicting pain on other people; they both come across as sadists. Their actions are terrifying to the audience because their extreme acts of violence would normally have been carried out by adults, but because they are both children, and Roger being so young, the violence is much more frightening. In Richards’s final speech in DNA, he is sitting in a field talking to Phil. This reminds us Leah, who throughout the play has long monologs when she is talking at Phil, in hope of a response. Phil blanks Richard, which tells the audience that he shuts out everybody, and that his silence wasn’t personal to Leah. The scene also suggests that nothing has changed, and it makes the audience reflect on the characters. Golding’s portrayal of the boys stays clearly on the same route. It’s suggested that Jack is evil and that evil continues through the novel, whereas Kelly makes us remember in the final scene of Leah, through Richard, and that Kelly wants to make us reflect on our views of each character, because they could be interchangeable, and they can represent anyone in society.