Children play king of the mountain with the stronger players trying to
keep the weaker ones from taking possession of the top of the hill. One of
Golding’s many themes expressed in Lord of the Flies is power. In
comparison to society, the island consists of democratic, authoritarian, and
spiritual power. Sitting in a throne may give a person power, but it does not
give them complete authority.

Democratic power is shown when choices and decisions are shared
among many. Ralph, originally from the Anglo-Saxon language, means
“counsel.” Ralph is an embodiment of democracy, he is willing to be a leader
but knows that its important for each of the boys to be able to speak his mind.
When there is a decision to be made, he lets the boys vote on it. In are
present democratic government of the United States, the President has to go
through Congress to pass a bill. The President runs the operations but he
does not have complete power over the decisions. Like the President, Ralph
has to go through the boys to make the decisions. “The trouble was, if you
were chief you had to think, you had to be wise. And then the occasion
slipped by so that you had to grab at a decision. This made you think: because
thought was a valuable thing, that got results…”(page 71)
In addition to democracy, authoritarian power is additionally portrayed.
Authoritarian power allows one person to rule by threatening and terrifying
others. Jack comes from the Hebrew and means “one who supplants,” one
who takes by force. Although the word “military” is never used about Jack,
there is something about his manner that suggests military or authoritarian
power. Jack lusts for power and is driven to destroy anyone who gets in his
way. In 1956, Fidel Castro forced his way into Cuba planning to overthrow
the government of Fulgencio Batista, a dictator in Cuba. After Castro became
President of the Council of State in 1976, he seized property owned by
wealthy Cubans, Americans, and others. He favored the lower classes and
made Cuba a communist state. In relation to Castro, Jack overthrows Ralph
from being chief and takes over the position with force and abuse. The boys
look up to Jack and respect him but there is no understanding. They do not
understand why he hides behind his mask or tortures innocent boys. But they
do know to respect him or they will be punished. For instance on page 85, “If
Jack was chief, we’d have all hunting and no fire. We’d be here till we died.”
Besides authoritarian, spiritual power is also represented. Spiritual
power recognizes internal and external realities and attempts to integrate
them. Simon comes from the Hebrew for “listener.” It was also the name of
one of Jesus’ apostles, Simon Peter. This hints at the spiritual role the
character will play in the novel: Simon is the only one who hears and
understands the truth. In the beginning of the story Simon is introduced as a
“skinny, vivid little boy” with epilepsy. In ancient times many thought that
the epileptic seizure was an indication that a person had great spiritual powers
and was favored by communications from the gods. In an ironic twist, Simon
communicates with an evil figure rather than a loving god. Beginning in
1933, Adolf Hitler brutally slayed many “impure” people because of their
religious beliefs. Many Jews, whom Hitler blamed Germany’s problems on,
were sent to concentration camps, where they were murdered. This event
relates to the fact that Simon is also killed by the strength of the boys belief in
the beast. Simon is very quiet and intimidated, “(he) felt a perilous necessity
to speak; but to speak in an assembly was a terrible thing to him.”(page 82)
Different types of power, with their uses and abuses, are central to the
story. Democratic, authoritarian, and spiritual power are each used by one of
the characters. A person may have power but it’s how they use the power to
determine the authority and dominance.

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