What was Golding’s purpose in writing the novel, The Lord of the Flies?


Golding attempts to transmit the message through his novel The Lord of the Flies. His message meant to alert readers that all mankind possess within them the capacity to do evil. This essay will demonstrate how Golding expresses this purpose through his use of setting, plot, characters and symbols throughout his novel.


The Lord of the Flies includes four main characters. Ralph is the attractive, capturing and charismatic natural leader. He represents the constant fight to maintain good and abolish evil. He bears the weight of the responsibility as a leader and the constant struggle to maintain law and order. We find examples of this throughout the book for example with Ralph’s winning of the leadership due to his appealing personality and his growing responsibilities as a leader as decivilisation slowly takes place. He and Piggy are the only ones trying to maintain law, order and good.


Jack – Ralph’s archrival – is a boy with a rigorously strict background. He was part of a choir, which later became his hunting group. He represents evil and “the darkness of man’s heart” (The Lord of the Flies, William Golding, page 225). He is cruel, aggressive and sadistic. Jack craves for power and envies Ralph for being the chief on the island. He rouses mob mentality and conceals his violence and blood thirst behind face paints. Many cases are seen in Golding’s novel, for example Jack’s aggressive and brutal behavior whilst killing the pig and after during the re-enact of the slaughter. The face paints are also a way to forget all shame and give in freely to the murderous impulse present in all mankind.


Simon was part of Jack’s choir and has a tendency to be bullied because of his constant fainting fits- he faints just before the chief is decided upon; Jack took absolutely no notice of this. He represents innocence, pureness and ‘the’ savior – when he comes to tell the other boys that the beast was actually a dead corpse of a parachutist – he is sensible, has a great mind but a fear to speak – he finds it easier to talk to Ralph only than stand up at assembly. He represents hope and becomes ‘the’ martyr when he dies bringing the good news that was left obscured.


Piggy is a fat, middle class boy with a funny accent and glasses. He is made fun of and bullied – Jack especially takes it out on him by calling him Fatty. He represents the voice of reason and the constant reminder of civilization – He is a great counselor to Ralph as things start to deteriorate. He also acts as Ralph’s conscience and is an evident victim in the world of the selection of the fittest. He is the possessor of the glasses that light the fire.


The setting was deliberately chosen. It represents in a way the eternal paradise. It corresponds to the Garden of Eden where original sin first sprung. Golding believes that all mankind is born with original sin. It also has an intimate connection with the war that is going on beyond the Island. In the end a warship ironically rescues them. This ship would take them away from their war into a large-scale war. The island could also embody the world and its degradation after a nuclear destruction.


The plot develops the themes of progressive degradation and decivilisation. The novel starts with Ralph as leader and as time passes Jack gains more and more power over the group whilst Ralph loses it and mob mentality increases. It’s a gradual near-vanquish of evil over good and a premeditated path from hope toward despair


Golding’s purpose in writing this novel was perhaps to demonstrate how humanity is not as superior as it wishes to think. We are merely beasts inserted into a society where our bars are our rules and our cages are our laws. We are confined in this cage quite happily and of our own free will. But if we are let out of our obligations and if civilization abandons us we will return to our primitive state – savagery and original sin. Golding uses children in