Childhood in “Lord of the Flies” and “I’m the King of the Castle” Essay

Both Hill and Golding present many ideas about how childhood is full of ‘difficulty and fear’.

In novels written almost wholly about the actions of children, it is somewhat surprising to find that the roles of ‘Lord’ and ‘King’ are found in the titles of each novel. Perhaps, this is to portray the way in which children are often forced to adopt more mature responsibilities as a result of a lack of civilisation or influence on their lives. Both Hill and Golding portray ideas about how childhood is fraught with prejudice, the desire for power, and the conflicts this creates. Hill moreso uses her novel as a warning, as to what could happen if these events continue, whereas Golding uses his novel as an allegory, with hidden messages about this topic, and he especially uses the island as a microcosm to reflect the events of the real world.Both writers portray childhood as being under constant threat from prejudice in both novels. Although all main characters are children, and it should be assumed that they would treat each other equally and fairly, as they have not yet grown enough to discriminate against people for certain reasons, it is fairly evident in both novels that those who are different are ostracised.

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In Lord of the Flies, Golding writes how ‘Piggy was an outsider’. This creates the impression that Piggy does not fit in with the rest of the boys, and possibly that he does not ‘belong there’. This is most likely due to him being ‘fat’ and due to his ‘specs’ and accent, showing how Piggy is excluded by the upper class boys purely due to superficial reasons. Through this, perhaps Golding is trying to illustrate that the older generations, specifically men, have had an effect on the children, due to the prejudice involved in warfare.This is because Golding was possibly known to be a pacifist, and spoke out against warfare, and especially the way in the British forced their power upon other nations, due to them being perceived as inferior, similar to the way in which Piggy is used by the boys for his ‘specs’, to light the fire, rather than being respected for his logic or intelligence. This is reflected in Hill’s novel, as Kingshaw is instantly prejudiced against by Hooper, due to his lower-class upbringing and relative lack of wealth. The fact that Hooper speaks about how ‘it’s not your house then’ and jests at him once he learns that he is a ‘Governor’s Bequest Boy’ goes to show how Hooper uses his own wealth as a tool to prejudice against others. Although both children are described to be only ‘almost eleven’, this sort of prejudice still occurs, showing how the upper class adults possibly influence their children to look down upon those with less wealth.

This relationship in fact causes Kingshaw to feel ‘extreme isolation’, which is caused by Hooper’s ‘relentless persecution’.The adjectives of ‘relentless’ and ‘extreme’ emphasise the events taking place, and it is further shocking that a child is having to experience something that only an adult would have been thought to have to face, and the fact that this ‘persecution’ is being caused only through a relationship with another young boy is further shocking. Both Kingshaw and Piggy are children who are perceived to be lower class, and therefore it is not surprising that they are equally poorly treated by the upper-class children. Perhaps, Hill is using Hooper as a symbol of the British upper class, and through this striking relationship, she is most likely trying to portray the effect of the behaviour of the upper classes on general society, and is using the relationship between the two boys to emphasise that events like this can also effect the youngest members of society. It is known that both writers were possibly critics of the British upper classes, and, it is possible that these writers are trying to highlight the issues with the British upper classes.Furthermore, it is portrayed by both writers that childhood is fraught with the effects of the desire for power. This is showcased in Golding’s novel, through the desire for power between Ralph and Jack. Both characters are seen to desire power, as they both wish to be ‘chief’ and aim to win the initial ‘vote’ that is held on the island.

Although this seems to be somewhat of a mature procedure, the fact that they desire to be ‘chief’ and the fact that Jack states ‘I can sing C sharp’ as sufficient reasons as to why he deserves to be chief reminds the reader of the young and immature nature of the children, and their yearning to behave maturely. However, it is this desire for power that leads to the splitting of the boys into the two factions, and so, it is evident that these desires for power have significant effects, even among children. Furthermore, the boys are said to be in ‘awe at the power set free below them’.

This phrase shows how the boys on island are amazed by the possibilities of their newly found freedom, and the fact that ey are ‘in awe’ suggests that they are experiencing something that they have not witnessed before, showing how before, they were were possibly deprived of power, and now, because they have witnessed the possibilities of power, they desire it.Possibly, Golding is trying to portray how children have learnt to desire power from their fathers, or other masculine influences. This is reflected in Hill’s novel, as Hooper is seen to say ‘you do what I say’ and ‘when my father dies, this house will be mine’. From this, we can see that Hooper is clearly portrayed as desiring power, and it is evident that his desire for power has in fact become so strong that he has lost all familial emotion or sentiment. This suggests that Hooper has become ‘depersonalised’ but this desire for power, and this links to the descent into savagery that occurs in Lord of the Flies, when the desire for power is so lustful and desperate that, in the absence of civilisation, the inner beast comes out.

However it is not only Hooper who has a strong desire for power, as seen by the events in Hang Wood.During the time when Hooper is emotionally weak, during the thunderstorm, Kingshaw thinks to himself ‘he won’t be leader anymore’, showing how this thought of power essentially plagues Kingshaw’s mind, and that his desire to be more powerful than Hooper is constant. Furthermore, at Leydell Castle, Kingshaw takes advantage of his position of height to shout various expletives at Hooper, showing how the sudden rise to power has enabled Kingshaw to dispense all his pent up rage against Hooper, possibly indicative that there was a constant desire for power even for Kingshaw. However, the fact that all this is occurring in a relationship between children is even more disturbing, and this shocks the reader, and shows how such issues can affect anyone, of any age. Possibly, the writers are trying to comment on the struggle for power present in the upper classes, especially at a time during their downfall and failure. Hill was known to be a critic of the British Empire and the associated upper classes, and so, she is perhaps trying to highlight their struggle for power and its negative impacts.

Linking to this, both writers also write about how conflict contributes to the difficulty and fear in childhood, and often, this conflict is due to the struggle for power between two factions. In Lord of the Flies, the two tribes on the island are used as microcosms to reflect the struggle for power between the governments and nations of the world. This conflict is portrayed through Piggy’s perceptive words. For example, he states ‘Which is better—to be a pack of painted Indians like you are, or to be sensible like Ralph is?’ and also ‘Which is better—to have rules and agree, or to hunt and kill?’.

Not only does this highlight the contrast in ideologies between the two groups, but there is also evident bias from Piggy’s perspective, being seen in the way that he portrays Ralph’s ways of thinking of positive, while Jack’s perspective is portrayed as uncivilised and ruthless. Perhaps, through this Golding is trying to mirror the actions of real-world governments, in the way that Golding possibly believes that these governments do not take other people’s perspectives into account, and act purely on the idea that their ideologies are superior, and so, this is the root of conflict: groups fighting because they believe their ideologies are superior.Although this can be seen as a very mature and perceptive insight by Piggy, it is important to remember that these are still children, and through this, Golding is possibly trying to portray how children are forced to adopt more mature responsibilities, especially in the absence of civilisation. Conflict is also seen between Kingshaw and Hooper in Hill’s novel, as again, both desire power over the other. Hooper can be seen as trying to assert his dominance over Kingshaw from the outset of the novel, through the use of the ‘I didn’t want you to come here’ note, and the ‘relentless persecution’ of him because of his lower-class upbringing and lack of wealth. The repetition of ‘I didn’t want you to come here’, as well as the repetition of the pronoun ‘you’ could suggest how Hooper is trying to distance himself from and alienate Kingshaw.

In this way, Hooper is portrayed to utilise his wealth, to seed a conflict between himself and Kingshaw, whereas in reality, it was completely unnecessary.Perhaps, through this, Hooper is trying to showcase how the upper-classes go to unnecessary lengths to distance themselves from those who they perceive to be ‘inferior’ due to their wealth, and this is possibly used to showcase the negative aspects of the British upper classes. The conflict is further seen at Leydell Castle, when Kingshaw asks Hooper to ‘take his hands off the wall’, and although the intent was unknown, it is possible that Kingshaw wanted to use his position of physical power to cause physical harm to Hooper, to conflict the way in which Hooper used his power from his wealth and class to cause emotional harm to Kingshaw. Perhaps, Hill is trying to illustrate the need for a backlash against the upper class, and is maybe trying to suggest that the upper class’ position of wealth can be combatted. Again however, this is a conflict between children, and it is shocking that children who are only ‘almost eleven’ are involved in this. Hill and Golding both use their novels to illustrate the ways in which childhood is full of ‘difficulty and fear’, due to the conflicts that occur.Overall, both authors target conventional views that childhood is easy and laid-back by presenting these ideas of how childhood is full of ‘difficulty and fear’ by exploring the consequences when children are forced to deal with issues that normally only adults would have to face.


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