Jealousy in Lord of the Flies by William Golding


There are a few major themes in Lord of the Flies that were greatly affected by Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, but one specific one is how the greed and jealousy on the island can lead to the decline of civility among the boys. When Ralph was elected leader instead of Jack, you could already see the tension between the two because Jack was expecting to be the leader. Jack's need for esteem was not being met because he had become very jealous of Ralph and insecure. Later on in the book, you can see Jack’s jealousy deepen. “And you shut up! Who are you, anyway? Sitting there, telling people what to do... Why should choosing [you as chief] make any difference? Just giving orders that don't make sense” (Golding). Jack starts ranting about how he feels about Ralph being the leader because he is obviously envious of Ralph and his jealous side is starting to take over. This caused a lot of tension between the two because they both wanted power, but in order to maintain a stable way of civility among the boys, they had to stick together and work together and put their emotions aside. This did not help improve Jack’s esteem though. He was so focused on being the leader that he was not meeting his basic needs like hunting for food or building shelters and that is a very critical step in being able to achieve esteem. When Jack began to try to put his emotions aside and try to hunt for food, it didn’t go too well because later in the book, things began to escalate very quickly again. “I'm not going to be a part of Ralph's lot . . . I'm going off by myself. He can catch his own pigs. Anyone who wants to hunt when I do can come too" (Golding). Jack was so jealous of Ralph and working under his authority that he decided to completely go against Ralph and form his own group. At first, everyone stuck with Ralph making him still not able to achieve his need for self-esteem because no one was on his side and supported him, but as time went on, Piggy and Ralph realized that everyone had left them to join Jack. This created a huge division between the boys and everything suddenly became very reckless and out of control. Although things were out of hand, Jack's esteem needs were starting to be met. Everyone sided with him and he was gaining more power, confidence, and sense of achievement, but rules were starting to be broken such as the conch. The conch that was once a symbol of law, order, and power became useless. No one took anything seriously anymore and the boys lost all sense of civilization and their more savage and impulsive sides came out. All of this happened just because someone was jealous of someone else’s power. Jack's jealousy took control over him and he completely manipulated everyone into thinking that he was the better leader. All civility and any remaining trust or responsibility was thrown out the window and everything went downhill from that point. If Jack was able to make his way up to self-esteem and follow the pyramid of needs, he could have achieved everything else more easily and in a more peaceful and less destructive way. Things would have turned out differently for the better and the boys wouldn’t have turned against each other if everyone's essential needs were met to begin with.

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