The Lord of the Flies: Themes


The world had witnessed the atrocities of World War II and began to
examine the defects of their social ethics. Man\'s purity and innocence was gone.
Man\'s ability to remain civilized was faltering. This change of attitude was
extremely evident in the literature of the age. Writers, who through the use of
clever symbolism, mocked the tragedy of man\'s fate. One such writer was William
Golding. An author who has seen the destruction of war and despises its
inevitable return. Through the use of innocent and untainted children, Golding
illustrates how man is doomed by his own instinct. The novel is called Lord of
the Flies, and is of extreme importance to help reconstruct the current wave of
revolutionary ideas that swept the twentieth-century generation. Lord of the
Flies portrays the belief of the age that man is in a constant struggle between
darkness and light, the defects of human nature, and a philosophical pessimism
that seals the fate of man. Golding\'s work are, due to their rigid structure
and style, are interpreted in many different ways. Its unique style is
different from the contemporary thought and therefor open for criticism.
The struggle between darkness and light is a major theme in all the
works of William Golding. Strong examples of this are found throughout Lord of
the Flies. The most obvious is the struggle between Ralph and Jack. The
characters themselves have been heavily influenced by the war. Ralph is the
representative of Democracy. Elected as the leader he and Piggy his companion
keep order and maintain a civilized government. The strength of Ralph\'s
character was supported by the power of World War II. Jack, on the other hand,
represents authoritarianism. He rules as a dictator and is the exact opposite
of Ralph. Jack is exemplifying the Hitler\'s and Mussolini\'s of the world. He
is what the world fears and yet follows. This struggle is born at the very
beginning and escalates till the very end. The struggle in the book is a
negative outlook on life in the future. One other example is the debate over
the existence of the beast. The idea of a beast brings all into a state of
chaotic excitement in which Ralph and Piggy lose control. Ralph and especially
Piggy try to convince everyone that there is no such thing as a beast to
maintain order. Jack and his choir of hunters do all to win support of the hunt
and in doing so he becomes an advocate for evil. This struggle between good and
evil is a fairly clear picture of the way this post-war generation viewed man
and his journey through life. This is done through Golding\'s masterful use of
allegory. Therefor making it enjoyable for all readers.
Golding himself stated that the purpose of the novel was to trace the
defects of society back "to the many defects of human society." The use of
children is an extremely effective way of making the purpose understandable to
readers of all generations.
"The idea of placing boys alone on an island, and letting them
work out archetypal patterns of human society, is a brilliant
technical device, with a simple coherence which is easily
understood by a modern audience." (Cox 163) This quote by C.B. Cox gives
us the reason why this novel has survived so long and is so well respected. The
children are left to react in ways that will test how close they will resemble
modern civilization. The group at first tries to assemble a type of demcratic
government in which Ralph is elected leader. At this instant we see something
that is most important. That is the reluctance of Jack to become the leader.
He and his choir singers, which are dressed in black to symbolize evil, are
immediately separated from the group and labeled as hunters. This gives Jack
some piece of power and like the dictators of the 1930\'s he insists he receive
more. The hunter party is Golding\'s triumph in giving the first glimpse of
human savagery through the hunter party. As the hunter party grows in numbers
the hunters have a great thirst for blood and death. This is how the beast is
first seen. They become more savage and soon begin to paint their faces to show
how fierce they are. The whole time Ralph and Piggy the only rational thinkers
have become the greatest enemy of the party. They begin to make chants and
dances and do all to destroy any order. When Piggy is killed we see the end of
rational thinking and