Compare and contrast the styles of both Willian Golding and Emily Bronte in their novels Essay

Both Golding and Bronte have their own individual style, which contributes to the originality and flair of each novel. However although they are different they share similar devices, which they use to full effect.

Images and symbolism play a large parting “Lord of the Flies” and “Wuthering Heights”.

Lord of the Flies can be viewed like an onion – it has a simple story line with ever increasing “rings” of meaning around that central core. As a fable it is uncomplicated, but as the surrounding “rings” cover many deeper issues, for instance a number of symbolic objects.

The conch is more than just a shell, useful for attracting attention and summoning the boys to meetings. It is like a church bell calling the faithful and embodies some of the ritual of religious ceremonies. For the boys on the island it also imposes a sense of order. Only one person can hold the conch, so only one person can speak at one time, and unlike Jack’s assemblies, everyone is given that right. The conch can therefore symbolise free speech, democracy, order and unity. These are the things that are of key importance for a successful civilisation, and when they are not present chaos can emerge.

Piggy’s glasses are more than an aid to his poor eyesight. Glasses represent the intelligence of piggy above the rest of the boys. They represent his ability to think clearly. To the boys the glasses symbolise fire, without which, as Ralph repeatedly proclaims, they cannot be rescued or cook the meat which Jack provides. Fire then is representative of life, but sadly and ironically, it is also the element, which causes the death of the boy with the “mulberry coloured birthmark”. By association the glasses symbolise life and death – knowledge, power and dominance.

The beast whether real or imaginary, is symbolic. It represents what Ralph calls “the darkness of man’s heart”. This is the “beast” present in each of us – the capacity for evil and wrongdoing. This beast must be served and accommodated and so the Lord of the Flies (the pig’s head on a stick) becomes its shrine. The boy’s recognition of evil, or the devil, is embodied in the sacrifice they make after each kill. The pig’s head represents evil, hunting and the gradual progression of savagery that embodies itself into the nature of the boys on the island. The beast also represents the fears each boy has on the island. They are all alone on a strange island, away from the superficiality of the adult world. Fears start to emerge which it seems the image of the “beastie” is created.

The island is a symbol of natural beauty and “it was clear to the bottom and bright with the efflorescence of tropical weed and coral”. The sea is unpolluted and clean suggesting it has been untouched by humans until the arrival of the boys. The island is portrayed by Golding as being a character in itself for example piggy “finds it hard to move with all the creeper things”. It is as if the island is making an attempt to hinder the boys’ “invasion” of the island. The island is also representative of the suggested feeling of being “trapped” since it is isolated from the rest of society. The beach on the island represents a place of refuge and safety for the boys- that’s why Ralph suggests building the huts there.

The scar, which is caused due to the plane crash, represents pain and is a permanent reminder for the boys on the island. Clothes can also be interpreted as a symbol. They represent civilisation, and therefore when Ralph “undid the snake-clasp of his belt, lugged off his shorts and pants, and stood there naked” it is a representation of a “stripping off” of civilisation and the rules by which the civilised live. It is an indication of the gradual progression to savagery. Likewise so are the face-paints, camouflage, and the hunting of the pig a progression of de-civilisation.

Although symbolism is, in part tied to objects, it can be seen here that actions can also be symbolic. For example the hunters “baptising” themselves with the blood of the pig, or the death of the sow represents the boys relinquishing a mother figure – and so, parental ties and innocence.

Even the characters can be seen as symbols. For example Piggy could be representative of intelligence, Simon due to his “strangeness” and special bond he seems to make with the island could be seen as a symbol of sensitivity, Ralph could be associated with practicality since it was he that organised the building of the huts, the meetings and the arrangement surrounding the conch, and the fire, and Jack could represent dominance and savagery due to his strong physical presence, i.e. his “red hair” makes him stand out as well as being associated with a fiery temper it also significantly, indicates danger. When he, quite literally, masks his appearance with paint, far from neutralising his venom and pugnacity it gives it free rein.

Imagery is also used in Lord of the Flies especially in the description Golding uses. It provides detail by the use of similes and metaphors which allow us to better imagine an incident or scene by drawing on our own experience. For example “like raindrops on a wire” and “like an angry eye” or metaphorical use of language like “a bowl of heat and light” and “darkness poured out” are more complex pictures that need to be considered. Images are often themed in the novel. Simon is linked to natural images and images of death are often encountered when jack is present. Simon is prophet – like in many ways including his withdrawal to the jungle to meditate. He is seen being tempted by the Lord of the Flies; haloed in light when he dies; and bringing a “truth” which no one listens to (about the beastie).

Imagery and symbolism is also included in Wuthering Heights. Certain key images are repeated throughout the novel. Windows suggest the existence of a barrier through which a character can see something, which they may desire but from which they are separated. There are many examples of this: the window through which Catherine’s ghost tries to enter “let me in, let me in!”; the window through which Cathy and Heathcliff look at the world of the Lintons and planted ourselves on a flower pot under the drawing-room window”; the window through which Heathcliff passes to visit Cathy’s coffin; the open window through which it is suggested Heathcliff has been reunited with Cathy “two on’ em looking out of his chamber window..”

Gates, doors, locks and keys are images portrayed throughout the novel used to emphasise the themes of separation and reunion, and imprisonment: when Lockwood first visits the Heights, the gates and doors are shut which he discovers when his horse tries to “push the barrier”, demonstrated as Heathcliff’s imprisonment of Catherine and isolation from the outside world. Both Cathy and Heathcliff lock themselves in their rooms before escaping from this world at their deaths. Catherine escaped the protection of the park to find herself looked out, a prelude to her being locked in as a prisoner at the Heights.

Another aspect of imagery that Bronte uses are animals. Animals are often used as similes and metaphorically throughout the novel to describe characters. Heathcliff is a “pitiless, wolfish man”. He is associated with growling dogs in chapter 1 and later gnashes “like a mad dog”. Here, and when Isabella is referred to as a “tigress” later on in the novel, the images suggest violence and aggressiveness. Other images suggest helplessness, as when Hindley is described as a “stray sheep” and Edgar a “sucking leveret”.

Several references in the novel are made to books. They are frequently associated with education and culture. Edgar has a library and we learn Nellie has acquired her education from books. Catherine tells us Heathcliff “never reads” and despite his burning of her books, it is through books that Hareton becomes cultivated and he and Cathy are brought together.

There is quite a lot of imagery involved with the two houses Wuthering Heights and the Grange. At the Heights a similar sort of sinister atmosphere like that on the moors is present. Barely any of the rooms are occupied and there always seems to be a cold, “drafty” feel about the place. There are not many servants apart from Nellie and Joseph. Bronte uses the Heights as a symbol of pain, suffering and discomfort, much like the “scar” is in Lord of the Flies. Much abuse and tragedy takes place at the Heights. Even when this atmosphere is masked e.g. at Christmas time when there are decorations up etc. it just acts as a source of contrast against the dark, sinister atmosphere, which makes it even more evident. However in contrast, the Grange where the Lintons live is warm and luxurious.

It is a symbol of comfort ” Ah! It was beautiful – a splendid place carpeted with crimson covered chairs and tables, and a pure white ceiling bordered by gold, a shower of glass drops hanging in silver chains from the centre, and shimmering with little soft tapers.” These two contrast just like the description of the forest and the beach in Lord of the Flies. The beach is a more of a “positive place” for the boys than the forest as it is a place of refuge and safety. The forest seems to produce a more unwelcoming feeling of sinister unrest. This may be partially because of the way the forest is related to Simon and his “weirdness”.

There are many mentions of the biblical references made mainly by Joseph for example in Lockwood’s dream when he is “publicly excommunicated”. All these images represent a sense of damnation, punishment, and unforgiveness. These references give God, who is supposed to be loving, forgiving and merciful, a bad name, and engenders a feeling of inquisition amoung readers to what kind of God Joseph actually serves? In contrast to this there are many hellish references especially ones related to Heathcliff as he is often referred to as “demonic” and “devilish” by Nellie in particular.

In the novel there are several references to “hands”. They are interpreted in an ambivalent fashion. This is because in some instances they are portrayed in a positive way, and other times in a negative manner. For example hands are often associated with “gripping” and characters reaching for things they cannot have – e.g. Cathy is reaching to both Linton for his wealth, and also to Heathcliff who she truly loves, yet she cannot have both. This provides a lot of unsatisfaction and discontent, which we as readers can see quite clearly in some of the characters and their actions. Similarly hands can be seen as a positive image, for example, they can be portrayed as reassuring and supportive, i.e. when Catherine was described to have “taken Master Linton’s hand into her own” or when Catherine and Hareton take each others hands near the end of the novel which represents hope for the future and for the new generation. The flowers they grow and their marriage date (New year’s day emphasise their breaking away from the barren hatreds of the past to make a new start.

Another important symbol in the novel is the breaking of the violin that Mr Earnshaw had promised to bring back for Hindley and a whip for Cathy which had been lost. This happened when Mr Earnshaw brought home a “little gypsy” foundling, which he had come across on the streets of Liverpool while he was on business. The violin was a symbol of the relationship between Hindley and Mr Earnshaw. The way it got broken on the way home in Mr Earnshaw’s pocket is representative to the broken relationship caused by Heathcliff wherever he goes.

A symbol that represents the relationship between Edgar Linton and Cathy is the honeysuckles and the thorns “it was not the thorn bending to the honeysuckles, but the honeysuckles embracing the thorn” The honeysuckle represent Edgar, and the thorns represent Cathy. This image shows that in their relationship, Edgar is the one who always has to “bend over backwards” to please Cathy. The thorns and the honeysuckle don’t belong together. The thorn will eventually choke the honeysuckle. They cannot “grow” and “flourish” in the same place. They are meant to be kept separate, as they are complete opposites. Cathy and Edgar relationship should not be, as they are not “compatible” and Nellie as an onlooker sees this.

Another thing that differs in both the novels is the handling of time. In Lord of the Flies the story is straight foreword, ongoing. This is effective in its own simplistic way. We are unsure about the time scale however, since there is no indication of how long the boys are on the island.

In Wuthering Heights events don’t happen in chronological order. Bronte uses this technique of flashbacks for the readers to find out the past. They put emphasis of the past on the present, linking the fate of Heathcliff and Cathy with that of Catherine and Hareton. Also by returning at key moments to Nelly and Lockwood in the “present” it breaks up the narrative and allows us to think about the significance of events.

The way the two stories are told are also different. In Lord of the Flies Golding tells the story which again is effective as it is a simple story line and lets the readers concentrate on the significance of any events, whereas in Wuthering Heights Bronte uses Ellen Dean (Nellie) and Mr Lockwood to tell the story. Lockwood’s style is an educated, literacy language, precise in its description of what he sees for example of the Heights in chapter 1 “..above the chimney were sundry villainous old guns, and a couple of horse pistols, and by way of ornament, three gaudily painted canisters disposed along its ledge. The floor was of smooth white stone: the chairs high-backed, primitive structures, painted green: one or two heavy black ones lurking in the shade….” However his style, with its large number of words of Latin origin, can also seem pompous like when he refers to Catherine as the “beneficent fairy” or refers to Nellie and the servants as “My human fixture and her satellites”. He uses language to keep disturbing emotions at a distance, for example on page 6 when he described how he “never told” his love to the girl at the seaside. His language emphasises that, in social and emotional terms, he is an outsider.

Nelly’s language is colloquial as she talks to Lockwood: “Hareton is the last of them, as our Miss Cathy is of us – I mean the Lintons” and is full of idiomatic images and imagery: Heathcliff’s history is described as “a cuckoo’s” and he is as “uncomplaining as a lamb”. Catherine is a “little monkey” and the Lintons behave towards her like “honeysuckles embracing the thorn”. Nellie’s language can be vividly descriptive, bas when she describes Catherine on the moors “musing over a bit of moss, or a tuft of blanched grass, or a fungus spreading its bright orange amoung the heaps of brown foliage”. At the same time her language can be just like the educated Lockwood’s. For example she says Heathcliff’s “naturally reserved disposition was exaggerated into an almost idiotic excess of unsociable moroseness”. She says this change is down to the influence of reading but it also suggests her loyalty to the world of the Lintons, and an adjustment of her own language for Lockwood’s benefit. Nellie can be described as a graphic reporter of events and her description is vivid. She has an unreliable judgement e.g. when she kept the seriousness of Cathy’s illness from Edgar, and she is an “insider”, unlike Lockwood who has known the characters ever since they were children.

Also we can share directly with Character’s feelings and experiences with Heathcliff’s accounts in chapter 6 when he describes the Grange “ah! It was beautiful – a splendid place carpeted with crimson….” and 29, Cathy’s in chapter 9 “I was only going to say that heaven didn’t seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth…..”, or Isabella’s in chapters 13 and 17 “I came last to Wuthering Heights, and heard for the first time that Catherine has been and is yet very ill….”. All narrators in the novel are biased or limited, therefore we have to make up our own minds. Makes us aware that it is always possible to see things from a different viewpoint. This narrative technique that Bronte uses is effective as it makes the story more creditable and it also increases sympathy with the main characters.

Both novelists, both Golding and Bronte include vast amounts of description in their books.

William Golding has all the necessary qualities when composing a creative, descriptive novel. Even when reading only the first part of Lord of the Flies, it is obviously apparent that he uses comparison, atmosphere, colour, detail, and the senses to create images within the reader’s mind and imagination. He also uses adjectives, metaphors and similes (mentioned before with imagery), personification, and contrast to improve the standard of the language he uses and to mark him out to be an excellent writer. All these qualities are shown in the way he uses natural description especially, because in this area it is both apparent and effective. The way in which he describes the island, makes the reader feel as if the island is a character in itself – living breathing, and very much alive with nature and beauty: “Here and there, little breezes crept over the polished waters beneath the haze of heat. When these breezes reach the platform the palm fronds would whisper, so that spots of blurred sunlight slid over their bodies or moved like bright, winged things in the shade.”

Golding also manages in some instances to create atmosphere and a detailed, vivid image of what he is describing (the island), for the reader to visualise while they are reading the novel: “The shore was fledged with palm trees. They stood or leaned or reclined against the light and their green feathers were a hundred feet up in the air. The ground beneath them was a bank covered with coarse grass, torn everywhere by the upheaval of fallen trees, scattered with decaying coconuts and palm saplings. Behind this was the darkness of the forest proper and the open space of the scar. Ralph stood one hand against the shimmering water. Out there, perhaps a mile away, the white surf flinked on a coral reef and beyond that the open sea was dark blue…”.

Golding’s description is that of a jigsaw puzzle. It is pieced together step by step throughout the novel until a complete picture is created. In this way he creates tension and the willingness to continue within the reader.

Similarly Emily Bronte also uses detailed description. The moors on which the novel is set plays a large part in creating the atmosphere and setting and is also makes up a lot of the natural description. They symbolise the raw passion which is wild and untamed between Cathy and Heathcliff “my love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath… I am Heathcliff”. They create an “open”, ghostly forbidding atmosphere. This conflicts with the family so close. The moors are portrayed in a very “wild” way and whenever they are described Bronte always seems to create a “violent”, “wuthering” or “stormy atmosphere” – “the rain began to drive through the moaning branches of the trees (on the moor), and warned us to avoid delay…” What makes them so threatening is that they all appear to look the same. They are all dark and cold which make the reader feel the moors are a very sinister, unwelcoming place. Cathy being lost on the moor is also linked in with this. There is a sense of something looming, which sets the scene for the family tragedies.

Bronte often uses the weather and the seasons in her description to create atmosphere and to reflect the feelings of her characters. The stormy nights on the moors always seems to happen just after something passionate, dramatic or tragic has happened. For example, after Heathcliff runs away: “There was a violent wind, as well as thunder, and either one or the other split a tree off at the corner of the building: a huge bough fell across the roof”. This emphasises the storm of feelings in the characters concerned, and hints at the consequences for the house of Earnshaw.

Bronte also includes description of the two houses in the novel – Wuthering Heights and The Grange as mentioned previously with imagery. The description of Wuthering Heights goes well with that of the natural description of the moors, which in turn contrasts to good effect with the comely atmosphere of the Grange. As its name suggests, Wuthering heights is exposed to the wilderness of the elements, and is exposed to the wilderness of the elements, and its first generation characters are associated with the “heights” of passion. Thrushcross Grange has more gentler, cultivated connotations, and its first generation characters are more civilised. In the second generation the contrast becomes blurred, as Cathy and Hareton plant flowers from the Grange in their garden at the Heights, and finally move to the Grange.

Both novels do contain dialogue. However both use different amounts of dialogue and sometimes for different purposes. Wuthering Heights does contain a fair amount of dialogue even though Nellie and Lockwood tell the story. This is because they both recollect in a very detailed way and often include the dialogue. Sometimes the dialogue is used to help the story line along and fill in details: ” “He trampled on you and kicked you and dashed you on the ground,” I whispered….” Other times dialogue is used for powerful effect: “My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath… I am Heathcliff – he’s always on my mind – not as a pleasure, anymore than I am always a pleasure to myself – but as my own being”. This instance is included to highlight and emphasise the passion and love that Heathcliff and Cathy have for one another.

In Lord of the Flies to contrast with the complexity of the descriptive pieces, the sections of dialogue are terse and are almost monosyllabic. The boys rarely speak more than a few sentences at a time; often what they say amount to just a few words and their vocabulary – for boys who are quite well educated as we know – is limited: “Then there’s huts. Shelters.” However dialogue, like in Wuthering Heights, is sometimes used to achieve powerful effect. One powerful example is the confrontation between Jack and Ralph over the letting out of the fire:

“There was a ship.”

“They might have seen us. We might have gone home”

This was too bitter for Piggy, who forgot his timidity in the agony of his loss. He began to cry out shrilly:

“You and your blood, Jack Merridew! You and you hunting! We might have gone home…”

There are some differences involving the novels. Both contain themes and reasons for writing their specific novels. Wuthering Heights is rich in overlapping themes. Three major themes are: Love, Revenge, and Death and the Supernatural. I am not quite sure of Emily’s purpose in writing the novel, if any. It possibly stems from the three major themes, i.e. Love will conquer all eventually, or Good will rise above evil, e.g. the love between Cathy and Hareton frees Hareton from his chains of ignorance and social degradation and overcomes the destructive legacy of the past.

The major themes that seem to filter through to the readers having read Lord of the Flies are: Good and evil, law and order and crowd mentality. However several more ideas stem from each of theses individual themes. All these when looked at in detail suggest Golding’s purpose in writing the novel. Golding intended to convey a number of messages in his modern “fable”. His numerous themes were intended to give the reader something to think about.

Golding uses the island to represent and symbolise the world, and the group of boys to represent the different societies and communities on the earth, containing people from all nationalities and backgrounds. Society holds everyone together, and without these conditions, our ideals, values, and basic ideas of right and wrong are lost. Without society’s rigid rules, anarchy and savagery come to light. Golding is also illustrating the fact that morals come from our surroundings, and if there is no civilisation, we will lose these values.

Some particular themes which are introduced at the beginning of the novel and are carried through are: people will abuse their power when it is not earned, when given a chance; people often single out other people who do not fit in with society’s strict stereotypes to degrade, i.e. the mockery made of piggy, to improve their own security; you can only cover up inner savagery for a while before it is exposed for what it really is, given the right situation; and the fear of the unknown can be a powerful force which can either turn you to insight or hysteria.

William Golding wanted his readers to turn over in their minds, and consider the opinion – “society is only held up by the rigid rules by which it is governed”. This boils down to the question all readers must ask themselves “without the stiff rules and regulations which run our societies, would we really be savages?”

Lord of the Flies and Wuthering Heights are similar in several ways and can be compared quite closely with some of the various the themes they contain and with some of the devices their authors William Golding, and Emily Bronte use. However more importantly, each novel has its own unique style, which allows each novel to stand out on its own for its originality and flair, without which would not make them the outstanding, well written novels they are.