Lord of the Flies and Macbeth: A Comparison Haley Kirschten Humanities 3A

Plot

Macbeth

Macbeth first begins with the Scottish King Duncan hearing the report of the battles occurring in his kingdom from one of his captains. The captain reports that Macbeth and Banquo have defeated all of their enemies and are returning home. As the two are returning home they happen upon three witches who give Macbeth a prophecy that he will become Thane of Cawdor and later King of Scotland. However, they predicted that Banquo's kin will be a long line of kings although he himself will never be one. Shortly after this, Macbeth is told that he is now the Thane of Cawdor after the previous Thane committed treason against Scotland. This leads Macbeth to think that the witches may have been right and that he will become King of Scotland as well as boosting his ego since he now holds two titles of Thane. Macbeth invites King Duncan over to his house in order to celebrate his new title and sends a letter to his wife to alert her of his new title, the prophecy, and that the King will be staying in their home. When Macbeth arrives home Lady Macbeth, wanting him to fulfill the prophecy of taking the throne, coerces Macbeth into killing King Duncan that very night. Macbeth is hesitant at first and does not want to go through with it, however, after his wife talking him in to and his own greed he agrees to kill him. They get the King's servant drunk so they cannot remember anything which will allow Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to blame the King's murder on them. That night Macbeth sets out to kill King Duncan. On his way he has his first of many apparitions, this time it being a bloody dagger which leads his to King Duncan's room. He kills Duncan then wipes the blood on the drunk servants to stage the scene. In the morning the Kings murder is discovered and Macbeth kills the servants. Duncan's sons, the next in line for the throne, flee believing that whoever killed their father could be after them as well. However, their fleeing gives Macbeth the prime opportunity to assume the throne because he talks the court into believing that Duncan's sons had plotted to kill the king and therefore are unfit to take the throne. Macbeth is appointed the new king. Macbeth now fears that somehow Banquo's heirs will take over his new throne and hires thugs to murder Banquo and his son Fleance. The thugs successfully kill Banquo however Fleance escapes leaving a door for the prophecy to come true open. That night Macbeth throws a feast and during the middle of the feast he gives a speech. During his speech the ghost of Banquo appears in his seat which causes him to become frightened and talks about this apparition in front of many nobles and leaders of Scotland. Some of them now believe that Macbeth is crazy and should not be the King of Scotland. After being humiliated in front of his subjects, Macbeth visits the witches who give him even more prophecies. He now must be aware of Macduff, a Scottish nobleman who cannot be killed by any person born of women and will not be harmed until the Birnam Wood reaches Dunsinane Castle. Macbeth is not frightened by this prophecy since he believes that no human can not be born by woman and no forest can move. Macbeth learns that Macduff has fled to England to help raise and army with Duncan's son Malcolm, so he orders Macduff's castle be seized and all of his kin killed. Macduff learns of this and starts his invasion of Scotland with Malcolm in order to remove Macbeth from power. While Macduff's forces are advancing Lady Macbeth starts sleepwalking and talking about visions she is having of bloodstains on her hands, this eventually leads her to take her own life. Macbeth located in Dunsinane Castle learns that Macduff's forces are carrying shields made out of wood from the Birnam forest, this fulfills a portion of the witches' prophecy. Macduff's forces attack Macbeth, eventually over powering him. Macduff and Macbeth fight, during which Macduff tells that he was ripped from his mother's stomach effectively fulfilling the second half of the witches's prophecy. Macduff kills Macbeth out of revenge and Malcolm then assumes the throne of Scotland.

Lord of the FlA group of British boys are stranded on a deserted island in the middle of the Pacific after their plane was shot down. They quickly discover that there are no adults, only kids. Ralph and Piggy are the first boys to find each other on the island and find a conch shell that they believe they could use to call other missing boys on the island. They use the conch and soon boys start appearing out of the forest. A group of boys dressed in black cloaks find their way to the others lead by a boy named Jack. They call themselves the "choir boys". The group quickly decides that they need to appoint a leader so they agree that Ralph should be the leader since he used to conch shell to call them all together. Jack objects to this but then agrees to be peaceful once Ralph says him and his "choir boys" can be the hunters. Ralph and Jack believe that they need to scout the island. Piggy wants to go but Jack and Ralph say he is too fat and they do not want to deal with his asthma so they take along another boy named Simon. When the boys come back from scouting Ralph tells the group that they should build a signal fire on the top of the mountain if they have any hopes of being rescued. The boys successfully make a fire on the top of the mountain using Piggy's glasses, however their fire gets out of control and burns down a section of the forest. They discover that one of the little boys is missing and assume that he died when the forest caught on fire. After this they agree to maintain a small fire, with the older boys switching off shifts to maintain it. Most of the boys get side tracked with having fun on the island which annoys Ralph because he wants to get home. Ralph becomes annoyed with Jack and his hunters because they would rather spend their time attempting to catch pigs than maintaining the fire. One day a ship passes by when the fire is out which angers Ralph because it was the hunters' responsibility to keep the fire fueled and going. Ralph goes to confront Jack but he refuses to acknowledge his duties on the island. This angers Piggy who tries to stand up to Jack, but this plan backfires and Jack slaps Piggy across the face. After this chaos, the smaller boys, now known as "littluns" tell the rest that they have been having nightmares of a thing they call the "beast". The older boys the "biguns" think that this is absurd since they can see no possible place for the beast to hide during the day. One night Sam'n'Eric, the twins, are tending the fire but fall asleep during it. While they are asleep a dead parachutist lands on the mountain which creates a figure that looks like the beast. Sam'n'Eric wake to see that the fire has gone out and there is black form suspended in trees making noises. They become frightened and run to tell the others. Jack vows to hunt this beast to stop the littluns from being frightened. The boys set out on their hunt and come across the dead man in the parachute and realize that it is not the beast. The boys hold a meeting to explain their findings, during which Jack proclaims that he believes that Ralph is unfit to be leader. The boys hold a vote, in which they rule that Ralph should remain in power. Jack runs away, leaving the group for good and calls all of his hunters to leave as well. After this Ralph tells the other boys that they should build a new signal fire on the beach, however most of the biguns sneak away to join Jack's new group. Jack's new group organizes a hunt, during which they kill a sow and stick her head through a stake in a clearing in the jungle. The hunters then hold a ritual where they reenact the hunt with a boy named Roger playing the sow. The boys chant and stab into the circle, almost killing Roger when they become too brutal. Meanwhile Simon has run into the jungle and happened upon the clearing with the sow's head. He has a hallucination, during which the sow's head tells him that the Lord of the Flies is contained within every person and no one is able to escape and Simon faints. Ralph and his group decide to visit Jack's group to make some amends and join the feast Jack is holding. During this Simon appears from the shadows and the boys mistake him for the beast proceeding to kill him. Ralph and Piggy return back to their camp shaken up and remorseful for participating in Simon's death. That night Jack and his hunters raid Ralph's camp and steal Piggy's glasses to keep the power of fire out of Ralph's hands. Ralph, Piggy, and Sam'n'Eric travel to Jack's camp to try to get Piggy's glasses back. When they arrive Jack orders Sam'n'Eric to be tied up and Roger releases a boulder which crushes Piggy and the conch. Ralph manages to escape Jack's hunters and comes across the sow's head where he punches it to the ground. Ralph is able to evade the search that is occurring for him. Eventually Jack orders the hunters to set the entire island on fire in order to smoke Ralph out so that they can capture him. Ralph is eventually forced out to the beach with the hunters right on his tail but is saved by a British navel officer who has come to take the boys home.

Synthesis

At first glance there seems to be nothing similar about the plots of these two stories. However, both stories are about rising to power and the eventual corruption that can accompany it. Macbeth like Jack comes into power in a very questionable manner but some how is able to get people on their side. In both stories the leaders will do whatever they can to maintain their power and do so through some very shady means. Both Macbeth and Jack killed to keep their power and eventually they both lost it.

Character Comparison

Macbeth

Macbeth is first seen by readers as being very ambitious and has the makings for a great leader through the captain's report to King Duncan from the battlefield. After hearing the witches' prophecies, Macbeth's true nature of greed, cowardice, and indecisiveness is brought to light. He is also very weak when it comes to standing his ground against what he believes is wrong and right. If he had more of a backbone he would have been able to ward of his wife's coercion into killing King Duncan. Without her talking him into the murder, he most likely would have never gone through with it. However this his lack of a backbone is also a benefit for Macbeth since his wife pushed in to commit the murder which granted him his position on the throne. His greed slowly takes over him as seen by his merciless killings of members of Scotland. He kills King Duncan because he longs to be king and have absolute power. In order to stay in power he kills Banquo, his friend, because he believes that he will be the demise of his power. Along with that he kills Macduff's family in a bid to assert his power. After he has Banquo killed he is plagued by guilt which can be seen by his many apparitions of Banquo's ghost.

Jack

Jack's main goal through the entire novel is to gain power, every major action he performs is directly related to him receiving or conserving his power. He slaps Piggy to show he has dominance over him, challenges Ralph as leader to gain power, steals Piggy's glasses so he has power over Ralph's group, kills Simon so his group will not see the truth about the beast, takes all of Ralph's boys in order to boot Ralph out of power, and eventually attempts to kill Ralph in order to be fully in power over the entire island. All of these actions are used to assert his power or to gain power. He bullies the other boys so they become scared of what he can and will do. He uses this fear, along with the fear of the beast, in order to control the actions of the others. Jack also represents savagery and chaos in Lord of the Flies, this directly contrasts Ralph who represents civilization and order. He slowly becomes more ruthless through the novel and the increasing savageness of the hunts symbolize this progression. His increasing savagery makes him feel like he has more power of the others and continues to assert more and more dominance over the others.

Ralph

Ralph is a charismatic leader which immediately draws the other boys towards choosing him to make the decisions, which gives him automatic power over the others. As the other boys slowly progress into savageness, Ralph clutches on to morality and civility as tightly as possible. He sees the hunters chanting and war paint as senseless and is angered over their killings of Simon and Piggy and torture of Sam'n'Eric. Ralph is able to see that the beast is actually the boys' own fear and savagery that naturally occurs inside of them in a representative form. He only gives in once to this internal savagery, when he attends Jack's feast and participates in Simon's killing. He is repulsed by himself after this because he now knows that every person is capable of evil. He regrets participating and spends the rest of the novel depressed with himself over his actions.

Synthesis

Macbeth and Ralph are similar in the sense that they are both charismatic and seem to make good leaders. They both are given automatic trust and following by others in their respective novels. However as Macbeth progresses, Macbeth becomes less and less like Ralph's good ways. The only two that link them together is Macbeth's remorse for having Banquo killed which parallels Ralph feeling sick after all of the boys participate in Simon's killing. Macbeth and Jack are similar to each other in the sense that both will do (kill in Macbeth's case) whatever it takes to remain on top. They both seem to only think of the most savage ways to attain their goals and follow through with them. At the end of Macbeth, with Macduff's troops advancing, Macbeth uses his last strength to fight against Macduff's troops. In doing so, he is similar to Ralph who uses potentially his last minutes on Earth outsmarting Jack's hunters. Both characters show a courage and a drive to fight for their life in these moments.

Theme

Macbeth

The most central theme in Macbeth is power and the corruption of power. Macbeth's actions are influenced by his need for power. If he had not craved power then he would have never wanted to be the King of Scotland. It took some time for him to acquire his position of power but once acquired, he would do everything he could to maintain it, which was the fuel for all of the killings he organized. His power corrupted him into killing his friend Banquo however his power did not corrupt him far enough into not feeling any kind of remorse. Lady Macbeth also embodies this theme. She craves for her husband to become the King of Scotland so they both can have an amount of power. Her decision to talk Macbeth into killing Duncan was motivated solely by her own longing for power. Another major theme in Macbeth is inner truth. Throughout the play Macbeth has visions, such as the dagger leading to Duncan's room and Banquo's ghost. These visions show Macbeth that he believes these killings are wrong and he should be remorseful for them. This also touches on an internal struggle of good versus evil.

Lord of the Flies

The biggest theme in Lord of the Flies is the power struggle between civilization (Ralph) and savagery (Jack). At different points in the plot, the two boys appeal to the others in different way. Ralph and Jack are in a constant battle over which is in power due to their different appeals to the other boys. The two main characters also do whatever they can in order to keep their power, Ralph continuing to encourage the boys to get off the island, and Jack bullying the boys into doing what he says. Another theme that is important to the book is the idea of truth and knowledge. The boys envision the beast and periodically make up characteristics and habits for it. However, the boys do not know that the beast is not actually real, it is just a representation of their fears and evil within. Simon eventually realizes this truth through the sow's head which acts as a beacon of knowledge on the island. While attempting to explain to the other boys this knowledge Simon is killed and the boys never find out the actual truth.

Synthesis

Both books showcase the struggle for power as their main theme and that once in power it is easy to become corrupt. The novels show however that once in power it may not be as glamorous as once thought. The power characters have in these novels is gained through very ruthless ways although each character reacts to their power in different ways. Both also showcase some kind of visions or apparitions that are crucial to the characters actions in the book.

Created By
Haley Kirschten
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