Human Behavior: Ivan Pavlov vs. William Golding
Throughout history, great thinkers have critically analyzed human behavior and the nature of humans. In William Goldings novel The Lord of the Flies, young boys are faced with a plane crash where they must rebuild civilization in order to survive. They encounter adult situations and must find some sort of structure within the island. However, Ralph, who is 12 years old is one of the oldest boys is chosen to be the leader must deal with taking care of the other kids and keeping alive. Among the survivors is Piggy the voice of reason through the novel. He expresses his ideas and thoughts to Ralph, who then acts upon them. After many long weeks on the island the kids start to turn into what todays society would call salvages. William Golding portrays human nature throughout the book as being dark, and heading towards a downward slope. Ivan Pavlov, the great thinker of the mid 1800s to early 1900s believes that human nature can be trained or conditioned to behave a certain way. The more realistic view on human behavior is shown through Ivan Pavlovs theory because he has conducted numerous experiments proving the reflexes and reactions to certain sounds or foods and because of the experiences of every human.
William Goldings view of human nature and behavior is negative and pessimistic. He believes that society and civilization today are so consumed and distracted by technology that humans dont realize their dark side, in other words his views is that humans are closer to the savagery end of the spectrum rather than the human end. In the novel, Golding shows that when the kids are alone with no structure, the inner evil in everyone is revealed and comes out to play. Simon who is a symbolic character representing Jesus Christ also shows a dark side. He is the only boy who is particularly nice to the younger children, yet at the end of the novel he is held responsible for the killing and death of Piggy. He did not kill Piggy because insanity took over his brain while being in an uncivilized situation but because over the long weeks, his brain has been conditioned to kill. He sees Jack and his tribe hunting and killing pigs, that it eventually becomes normal and just a part of their survival.
Ivan Pavlov has conducted numerous amounts of experiments proving that humans can be conditioned. One of his most famous experiments was one done with dogs. Every time he rang a bell, he would bring the dogs and treat and measure their saliva content. After conditioning the dogs and having them expect a treat every time they hear a bell, he does the exact some procedure except he does not reward them or let them see any food. After the bell has rung, he notices that the dogs salivation levels go up as if there was food right in front of them. Since humans and dogs both generate saliva if they are being presented with desirable food, they must have similar behaviors as well. Humans since birth have been taught to obey rules and laws. In The Lord of the Flies, Jack sets a limited amount of rules and fails to enforce them, which is why the boys turn into wild children and resemble savages.
Every human has grown up to a certain set of rules or laws. We have been conditioned from the time we were little to respect and obey authority. It is engraved in our heads, and leaves some sort of fear of the unknown consequences leading us not to do such things. We also learn from when we were little the basics of things like red light means stop, green light means go, and amber light means proceed with caution. Society trains our brains to act a certain way according to which society you might live in. For example, the boys were trained that every time they heard the conch blow, they would meet in a certain spot for a meeting. The sound was engraved into their heads and when the conch was broken, there society was too.
In conclusion, Ivan Pavlovs theory of humans is more correct. Humans are trained to act a certain way, and the way they live is the only way they know. It is possibly to change but in order for that you must re-train yourself to live a certain way. William Goldings theory of human nature is only an opinion based on what he believes.