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“How are Ralph, Winston and the imperfections in their characters used to contrast the corruption surrounding them? ” One can perceive a character not just by what they do that distinguishes them, but what they do that any normal person would do. “Lord of the Flies” and “1984” both involve corrupt governments, with manipulative figures such as Jack and Big Brother respectively.
Ralph and Winston share a natural susceptibility to the attraction of this corruption, and the authors use this weakness to reveal much more about power and the people in the two novels. Each character has faults that tend to be shared by humans in general, and with these the scale of corruption in the environments and the many facets of human nature are slowly revealed. In “Lord of the Flies”, the boys begin their time on the island in a fairly civilised manner, organizing meetings and a bare-bones democratic society.However, as Jack manipulates the boys’ fear of the Beast in order to form his own tribe where he is Chief, the juxtaposition of this with Ralph’s defiance and defense of democracy provides a dramatic contrasting marker with which the reader can plainly see the level of corruption in the boys’ developing society. For example, in Chapter Nine, after the feast when Jack forms his own tribe, Ralph’s unsuccessful attempt to remind the boys of democracy by using the conch further reveals the degeneration into corruption, as the shell that had been so greatly revered by the boys at first was now an obsolete object of the past.A characteristic point that applies for both characters is that they are virtually alone in their pursuit of justice and truth against a proportionally vast opposition, indicating how alluring the acceptance of corruption has been that only one or two sparks of a society of old remain. In “1984”, Winston’s drive for freedom with Julia is particularly effective in expanding Oceania’s corruption because of the risks he takes and the moral sacrifices he makes for the simple pleasure of a semi-free life with Julia.
This is made especially prominent by the scarce risk to gain ration of their nightly meetings, and the fact Winston is willing to risk becoming an “unperson” for a few moment of pleasure evokes both sympathy and respect from the reader. He says, “so long as human beings stay human, death and life are the same thing”, implying that he understands the risks, and his ambition for a better life creates respect from the reader.Their risks contrast with the reader’s understanding of freedom in reality, which can then be contrasted with Big Brother’s totalitarian control and the corruption in the Ministries. In comparison with “Lord of the Flies”, the authors’ use of solidarity in the face of opposition is extremely effective in creating empathy from the reader and dislike for the corrupt governments. In Winston’s case, his torture in Miniluv evokes great sympathy from the reader and portrays O’ Brian in a negative manner, as he represents the totalitarian government crushing the resistance of one man.
Similarly in “Lord of the Flies”, the hunting of Ralph creates sympathy by showing how far the young boys have degenerated from democracy, and their barbaric, corrupt nature is referred to by Golding when he writes “Jack and the two anonymous savages swayed”, accentuating Jack’s control over boys whose individual rights have been removed by a tyrant. On the theme of dictatorship and tyranny, the fact that both Ralph and Winston, initially perfectly normal people, are reduced to fugitives from the governments contrasts with how widespread the corruption is.They both have ambitions, Ralph wanting rescue and Winston wanting to live his life of pseudo-freedom, but are crushed by the governments. The poignancy of these destroyed ambitions is that they are very simple, and what the reader would expect from normal life; freedom to love, help when in need, and the fact that both governments are forcing people to conform to the dictatorship’s desires reflects on how corrupt both societies have become.
Of course, this control is not just limited to crushing ideology, but control over people themselves.For example, when Jack orders savages to tie Samneric up, he shouts, “See? They do what I want”, showing his manipulation of normal people into puppets. In “1984” O’ Brian says to Winston, “We control life, at all its levels”, which Winston knew all too well from his job of rewriting the past. The power of precise control over human beings given to Jack and Big Brother causes the reader to question if one person (or entity, in Big Brother’s case) should have that power, and invariably the answer is that they should not, leading to the evaluation that the scale of corruption is of a great magnitude.
In both novels, Winston and Ralph are portrayed as resilient to corruption, with Ralph thwarting Jack’s early attempts to establish his regime and Winston obviously understanding the corruption of Miniluv and inwardly rebelling against it. The authors’ use this apparent invulnerability to highlight corruption when they succumb to it. For example, when Ralph joins in the “demented but partly secure society” his reasons for being attracted to the corrupt tribe leave a strong impression on the reader because Ralph, who the reader had thought to be ‘pure’ had fallen to the corruption.This implies the great attraction of the tribe’s corrupt nature, and its ability to convert even those who rejected it. In the case of “1984”, Winston falls to “love” Big Brother, when O’ Brian tortures him to betray Julia. For many chapters their love had been a recurring theme, a powerful bond between them, and for corruption to make Winston turn in his love implies its scale and power. Winston’s feelings about the corruption’s inevitable consummation of a rebel are shown when he says, “You think there’s no other way of saving yourself, and you’re quite ready to save yourself that way.
This tells us that his life was threatened by the corrupt government’s torture, showing again how powerful and undeniable the corruption is in Oceania. Clearly both novels incorporate corrupt totalitarian governments at some point, and although the reader can pick up the differences in the laws of “1984” and “Lord of the Flies” compared to reality, it is the uses of Winston and Ralph’s beliefs rooted in traditional, liberal government that the reader is more familiar with that creates a contrasting marker against the corruption.It is only when Winston is mercilessly tortured in Room 101, and Ralph is viciously hunted by young boys, that one can see the differences and the limitations of a corrupt dictatorship, when a character, who the reader has known since the beginning of the novel, is thrown into such dire circumstances that the reader can most plainly see how corruption has taken over in the worlds of “1984” and “Lord of the Flies”.