Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ and William Golding’s ‘Lord Of The Flies’ both portray ‘the evil in man’ in different ways. How do they portray them and what views do the authors have on this topic? In this comparative book essay I will be analysing ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley and ‘Lord Of The Flies’ by William Golding. Both books share a common theme, ‘the evil in man’. This theme is portrayed in various ways in the two books. I will be investigating how they are depicted and the views the authors have on this issue. Frankenstein is set in Geneva, Switzerland.
The protagonist is a man named Victor Frankenstein, a man whose unquenchable thirst for knowledge leads him into a web of destruction. His adolescent years are peaceful and perfect, ‘no human being could have passed a happier childhood than myself’. He is brought up in a faultless family, surrounded by his two parents who love and care for him unconditionally, ‘my parents were possessed by the very spirit of kindness and indulgence’. Lord Of The Flies is set on a remote, tropical, imaginary island. A plane has crashed whilst evacuating children from a war torn country.
A group of boys are the only survivors; the members of a church choir and their leader Jack Merridew, Ralph, a fat short-sighted boy named Piggy and a number of other boys of various ages, including a meek boy by the name of Simon. The novel is about the evil that resides inside everyone, from a child’s perspective. The settings of both books are similar in the way that both start off in remote places; Lord of the Flies on an island and Frankenstein in a remote part of Geneva. The settings of the two novels have important effects on the outcome.
The island on Lord of the Flies can be seen a prison, where the boys are trapped with no means of escape. This, along with lack of authority, causes them to turn on each other. In Frankenstein, Victor is primarily raised in Geneva but then travels to learn, and then to create a new monster. However, the evil always follows him, showing that you cannot hide from the evil within yourself. There are many characters in the two novels that can be compared against each other. William and ‘the boy with the mark on his cheek’ are one of the youngest in both books, and are the first to fall prey to the monster/beast.
This shows that the start of destruction often begins with the loss of innocence, represented in the youngest. Simon and Elizabeth are also alike in the way that they are the timid creatures of both novels. However they are also both good people at heart. They are both the closest thing to pureness in the books (representation of Jesus), but are killed later on. This shows the loss of purity on the road to destruction. The monster and Roger are also comparable. Both are pure evil. Roger is the only character in Lord of the Flies that intentionally kills someone, and also carries out all the torture on Jack’s command.
Similarly, the monster murders Victor’s family consecutively until he gets what he wants. In order to analyse both novels it is necessary to acquire knowledge about the authors, and their incentive to write such stories regarding the issue of ‘the evil in man’. This will give us an insight into why the authors felt that such evil was present inside the hearts of men, and why they took such negative outlooks in the writing of their books. Mary Shelley experienced the kind of childhood that brings to mind a dark fairy tale.
Her mother, an early feminist, died giving birth to her’ she was brought up by a remote father and a stepmother who despised her. Her step-sister was a depressive, who would later commit suicide. The young Mary escaped from her surroundings into reading, and would often read by the side of her mother’s tomb. In 1813, she met Percy Shelley. He was twenty-one years old, a full five years her superior. Nevertheless, the two fell in love and eloped, despite Mary’s age. Her father disowned her, but she and Shelley were married in 1816. The young couple decided to live abroad, and settled in Italy.
Tragedy followed them: of their four children, only one lived very long. Then in 1822, aged just thirty, Mary’s husband drowned when on a cruise with her husband, his ship having capsized due to a summer storm. Mary’s life was effectively over: even though she lived for another thirty years, her flame never again burned as brightly as it had done in the company of her husband. She pursued to live as a professional writer until her death in 1851. Mary was constantly tormented in life by death and depression, which may have led her to write ‘Frankenstein’.