To What Extent Is “Lord of the Flies” About

Topics: Allegory, William Golding, Lord of the Flies Pages: 12 (5055 words) Published: September 30, 2010
In “Lord of the Flies,” Golding explores the theme of civilisation in juxtaposition with savagery; he compels the reader through the boys’ symbolic characters, and their struggle to survive in isolation of society and order. Through “Lord of the Flies,” which is an allegorical novel, Golding warns us of the savagery that is within all of mankind; this is powerfully reflected through the time period in which the novel is set, in the aftermath of the Two World Wars, and the ongoing Atomic war. Ralph’s character throughout the novel is central to the theme of “the loss of innocence” where, once the boys have descended into savagery, we realise that the fear of the beast is simply fear of what mankind can become. As their society collapses, Ralph ultimately comes to discover, and the reader with him, the reality of human nature.

The Island plays a vital role in “Lord of the Flies,” symbolising the boys’ isolation, and paralleling their descent from civilisation to savagery. Golding’s first description of the island mirrors a fictional paradise, which is reflected when Ralph describes it as “like in a book... Treasure Island... Coral Island.” Golding uses “Lord of The Flies” partly in a satirical response to the idealism of ‘Coral Island,’ and how it did not reflect the true nature of mankind; at the beginning of the novel, “Beyond the Pool there was more enchantment. Some act of God.” The theme of religion is one that is constant throughout the novel, and strengthens the underlying parable that Golding wants the reader to believe in. Through religion, the themes of good and evil are made more powerful, as we see how the boys are tempted by savagery, abandoning morals and civilisation. However, even from the very beginning of the novel, Golding’s language implies a slightly foreboding undertone: “the skull-like coconuts... the incredible pool, which was clearly only invaded by the sea at high tide...” whilst words such as “incredible” illustrate the initial wonderment of the island through the boys’ eyes, the words “skull-like” and “invaded” subtly change the atmosphere of the novel; through Golding’s omniscient narration, the reader sees that the island is far from the perfect image that the boys portray it as. This is further implied when he describes the heat on the island as “a threatening weight... the lagoon attacked them with a blinding effulgence,” just after Piggy has reminded Ralph of the ongoing atomic war. The language Golding uses contradicts the boys’ slightly naive and idealistic view of the island, as they do not look beyond the initial ‘enchantment’ of the island to see the savagery that is always present. Ultimately, as the boys succumb to their savage instincts, the island will transform from the original ‘paradise’ that the boys’ saw, to resemble ‘hell-on-earth’; this change also mirrors how the boys’ idealistic view of the island is destroyed by their discovery of the savagery, which lives within all of mankind. Simon’s character exemplifies the part of the island that is civilised and full of beauty: “The candle-buds stirred. Their green sepals drew back a little and the white tips of the flowers rose delicately to meet the open air.” Golding’s description of the island dramatically changes when the novel focuses solely on Simon. We see how it changes in parallel to how the boys themselves change; when Simon dies, much of the beauty and tranquillity of the island disappears, as he represented pacifism and the selfless, compassionate side of mankind: “amid the roar of bees in the afternoon sunlight, Simon found for them the fruit they could not reach... passed them back down to the endless, outstretched hands.” He is the only one of the older boys who shows any kindness towards the little’uns and does not view them as inferior; this dramatically juxtaposes Roger, who represents savagery in its most violent form, and “the darkness of man’s heart.” This is reflected in his victimisation of the little’uns,...
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