Last Updated 02 Aug 2020

How Do William Golding and Williams Shakespeare Present Disturbed Characters?

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How do William Golding and William Shakespeare present disturbed characters? In Lord of the Flies Golding presents disturbed characters as savage and blood-thirsty. After his own experience in world war two, he seems to believe everybody has a savage personality and thriving which is brought out through an extreme situation. Golding uses the technique of evoking emotion from the reader through the use of innocent children committing unthinkable actions.

He conveys his views through the ever growing savage characters of Jack and Roger, whereas Shakespeare presents Lady Macbeth as a mentally disturbed character consumed with an obsession of becoming a part of the hierarchy within society. In the first chapter of Lord of the Flies Golding uses the Island as an allegorical object, presenting the general overview of society and civilisation. The Island can be represented as the Garden of Eden; an innate place of perfection to be undisturbed and civil.

It seems to be an idyllic place for some time with rules and order throughout, this is up until it is corrupted and nature is changed by the boys’ savage intentions. This relates to biblical themes of the Garden of Eden once corrupted by mankind (Adam & Eve). We also see a use of pathetic fallacy, the Island in this sense is more important than anything, it foreshadows the events which are beginning to unfold. Throughout both pieces of Literature Shakespeare and Golding use religious beliefs and values; in Macbeth the uses of supernatural creatures like the witches represent a devil like figure.

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The strong Christian themes in the play and during Elizabethan times made them even more evil, Shakespeare conveys Lady Macbeth as the total opposite of what a women ‘should be’. She knows as a female she is limited because of her gender, she asked to be filled with cruelty which is ironic because she created the plan to kill the King. This point is significant in the quote “unsex me here”. Similarly you could argue the ‘beast’ brought to the attention of the boys by a ‘littlun’ is equally as important.

Simon proposes the beast is only the boys imagination itself, although they laugh off his idea, Simon is central to the novel; he links to Golding’s point of innate human evil which exists. He is the first boy to acknowledge that the ‘beast’ is an external force of human nature. Lady Macbeth is first introduced to us as Macbeth’s loving wife, she seems thrilled to hear of her husband’s progression in social status. Her first reaction is to concoct a plan to kill the king; we are equally as shocked as Macbeth when she “pours her spirits in thine ear”.

This leads us to believe she is a somewhat calculating character. Lady Macbeth then begins to develop into manipulating Macbeth, she uses blackmail such as “break this enterprise to me? ” she weakens Macbeth “you were a man” implies she does not think of him as being worthy to be called a man. To some extent Lady Macbeth is to blame, as soon as she hears of Macbeth’s news her character is blinded by ambition. Similarly the three witches give Macbeth prophesies leading to the evil plan which is soon presented.

The first significant change in their relationship comes when she creates a description of juxtaposition, turning a pure and natural thing into a horrific image; saying she would have “dash’d the brains out” of their unborn child. Using this hypothetic situation Macbeth is beginning to consider the consequences, she uses pronouns ‘you and I’ implying they are equally as involved and together through all of it. Golding presents the character of Jack as a developing character of savagery throughout the novel.

He compares the deterioration of Jack’s civilized and well brought up mind with his lust and instinct to hunt. This is shown when the boys try and outline order on ‘their’ island. Jacks reaction to this is aggressive and intolerant- “bollocks to the rules! We’re strong- we hunt! ”. Here we see that he seems manipulative towards the other characters trying to control them into following him as the leader. When the group of boys head up the mountain our perception as to Jack’s cruelty is further developed.

This is shown when Jack is seen to “snatch the glasses from Piggy’s face”; “His specs- use them as burning glasses”. Golding uses this cruel streak in Jack so the reader feels sympathetic to lesser characters such as Piggy. The deterioration of civilization on the island first begins with the breaking of the conch, in the novel the conch symbolises rules, like a school bell when the noise sounds it enforces a sense of regulation and order. Secondly the fire symbolises a feeling of hope, it is the one thing that could save them and mean rescue.

Contrastingly it represents destruction and corruption, it destroys the idyllic feel of the island first presented to us by Golding. Identity is a main theme in both Lord of the flies and Macbeth, Golding uses the technique of theriomorphism to give Jack animalistic qualities. For example Golding says “he passed his tongue across his dry lips and scanned the uncommunicative forest” conveying Jack as a primitive character. In other words Golding is beginning to show Jack’s impulsive and has a compulsion to kill, giving the reader an impression of his savage streak emerging.

He also uses the word “uncommunicative” which literally is telling the reader the island is abandoned but foreshadows what is to come. This is an effective word choice because it gives an insight to the communication which causes their downfall. Our understanding of what is to come differs from the previous text ‘Coral Island’ the wildness of the surroundings influences changes in characters such as Jack to take natural animalistic instincts; contradicting the theme of ‘happy endings’ as conveyed in Coral Island.

A link between both Lord of the Flies and Macbeth is that both involve a sense of changing identity and deterioration of characters. During Elizabethan times when Shakespeare wrote Macbeth, the ‘social-scale’ of class and stature was called the ‘divine right of kings’. External factors of society such as religion and the threat of war makes the actions of a simple Elizabethan wife seem unthinkable. From the beginning of the play onwards, the relationship of Macbeth and his wife is one of equality.

Straight away we are aware that Lady Macbeth is highly respected by her husband; “my dearest partner of greatness” is how he addresses her in the letter. A change of identity is suggested to Macbeth, Lady Macbeth says “Your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent flower But be the serpent under’t” She is controlling him, telling him to convey a normal front yet be the killer you know you are beneath. Contrastingly Jack uses paint to cover his face in Lord of the Flies, this is a primitive, tribal act in which he can cover his identity and be the hunter he insists upon.

As we come to the final scenes of the play, not only can we see a mental deterioration but Shakespeare’s use of iambic pentameter conveying her as physically and mentally disturbed. During such times ‘mental illness’ was not understood and looked upon as being ‘mad’. In act 3 scene 4 she has changed completely, a doctor and gentle-women observe her as she has clearly become mentally out of control. Lady Macbeth even imagines herself with hands covered with blood, there is a stream of guilt as she shows her fragmented speech reflecting her thoughts and soliloquy “out, damned spot! I say! ”

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How Do William Golding and Williams Shakespeare Present Disturbed Characters?. (2017, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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