Will, Suffering and Liberation in William Golding’s The Spire.

  • Jesús Saavedra-Carballido
Keywords: William Golding, Arthur Schopenhauer, will, suffering, aesthetics, death


Although William Golding’s The Spire has been submitted to frequent analyses, none has explained one of its central elements: the will that the protagonist identifies with that of God. First illustrating this general weakness through a well-known reading of the novel, this article then attempts a more comprehensive interpretation, focused on the primacy of the will, with the aid of Arthur Schopenhauer’s philosophy. Schopenhauer’s theory throws light on the uneasy relations between the intellectual perspectives adopted by the two main characters, Dean Jocelin (a religious man with a vision) and Roger Mason (the builder who puts his technical expertise at the Dean’s service) on the spire that gives the novel its title. More importantly, it can help us to see how both perspectives serve the all-powerful, amoral will that also fuels Jocelin’s sexual desire and underlies the world as a whole. In Golding’s novel, as in Schopenhauer, the insatiable quality of willing causes widespread suffering, but Jocelin’s involuntary liberation from the force of will (thanks to his aesthetic contemplation of the spire and his subsequent demise) eventually puts an end to his pain.

Author Biography

Jesús Saavedra-Carballido
Universidade de Santiago de Compostela