Analysis of the Lord of the Flies

January 9, 2004

The classic novel, Lord of the Flies, is known throughout the world for its writing style, literary devices and unique ideas. William Golding said in one American lecture that as the World War II continued, he became more and more award of man’s greed and cruelty. He then said that he looked for some way in which his ideas about the evil nature of man can have a disastrous effect. He found it in the play of children. The tropical island setting presents an environment free from civil order introducing a battle ground for the war of good and evil. The book is about the struggle and the survival of a group of boys trapped on an uninhibited island while a war is going on. William Golding explains the different sides of human nature and that all human beings are capable of being evil. Universal truths are things one can relate to. The book also deals with universal truths because many of the characters have characteristics one can relate to.

The story is about a group of English school boys who were stranded on an island while a war is going on outside their realm. At first the boys have good intentions, they keep the fire going so that the passing ships can see the smoke and rescue them. However, because of the excessive amount of freedom, many boys quickly lose their sense of responsibility and they pass over for more exciting things, such as killing pigs for food. The killing of pigs slowly begins to take over the boys’ lives, and they begin to go about this in a ritualistic way, dancing around the dead animal and shouting. As this thirst for blood increases, it separates the group into different sides of human nature - rational and irrational. A boy whispers that he saw a beast, a big snake like thing which came in the dark in the woods. Then, the fear of a mythological “beast” is perpetuated by the younger members of the groups and the boys are forced to do something about it.

Lord of the Flies deals with universal truths because many of the characters have characteristics one can relate to. There are four main characters in this book. Ralph represents goodwill, a search for hope, power, and some common sense. He comes from a background of discipline and order. Ralph is “big enough to be a link with the adult of authority”, but Simon never abuses his power as Jack and Roger do but always attempts to use his power for the good (64). It is Ralph who tries to convince his fellow survivors that it is better to have rules and to keep the fire going than to hunt and kill; that it is and better to have laws and be rescued than to break things up. Gradually he loses sight of what is important. This shows that he has weaknesses and is capable of evil like all humans. One of the main characters is Jack. Jack asserts his authority and eventually rules by terror. He is the worst type of dictator. The cruel, ruthless, painted savage chief lies just beneath his choirboy uniform. It is ironic that Jack says, “We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all, we’re not savages. We’re English; and the English are the best at everything. So we’ve got to do the right things” (29). It is he who is first to turn into a savage and one later hear him say “Bullocks to the rules! We’re strong-we hunt!”(95).The rule he will impose on his tribe will be designed to make them listen only to him. He has both a lust for power and a lust for blood. Jack possesses the same ruthless and savageness that is in all human beings and one can relate to that. Another thing one can relate to is his wanting to be a leader in his society. If Jack represents the savage man of action, then Piggy is the intellectual, who sees science and logic as the answer to man’s needs. It is his desire for order that insists of naming and counting survivors. It is he who first