Lord of the Flies was the first novel published by Sir William Golding. Although Golding had published an anthology of poems nearly two decades before writing Lord of the Flies, this novel was his first extensive narrative work and is informed by his scientific training an academic background. In many ways Lord of the Flies is a hypothetical treatment of particular scientific concerns.
It places a group of young English boys on a deserted island where they must develop their own society, in essence constructing a sociological experiment in which these boys must develop without any societal influences to shape them. In fact the beginning chapters of the novel parallel assumptions about human evolution, as the characters “discover” fire and form levels of political authority.
However, what concerns Golding in Lord of the Flies is the nature of evil as demonstrated by the boys on the island. He concludes that the evil actions that the boys commit are inherent in human nature and can only be controlled by societal mores and rationality, as exemplified by the characters Piggy and Ralph.
Although the novel does not adhere to themes particular to one religious tradition, in Lord of the Flies Golding draws upon a great deal of religious symbolism updated to conform to more contemporary ideas of human psychology. The title character,’ the pig’s head that Simon dubs the “lord of the flies” is a translation of the Hebrew word Ba’alzevuv, or its Greek equivalent Beelzebub.
For Golding, this devil comes from within the human psyche rather than acting as an external force, as implied by Judeo-Christian teachings. Golding employs this religious reference in more Freudian terms. The devil that is the “lord of the flies” represents the Freudian conception of the Id, the driving amoral force that works solely to ensure its own survival. The “lord of the flies” directly confronts the most spiritually motivated character of the novel, Simon, who functions as a prophet-martyr for the other boys.
Lord of the Flies is firmly rooted in the sociopolitical concerns of its era. Published during the first decade of the Cold War, the novel contains obvious parallels to the struggle between liberal democracy and totalitarianism. Ralph represents the liberal tradition, while Jack, before he succumbs to total anarchism, can be interpreted as representing military dictatorship. In its structure as an adventure the novel further resembles the science-fiction genre that reemerged as a popular form of literature during the fifties.
Symbolism played an important part in the development of story. This narrative technique is used to give significance to certain people or objects, which represent some other figure. Piggy and glasses represents clear-sightedness, intelligence. Their state represents the status of social order. Ralph, the Conch represents democracy and order. Simon represents pure goodness or Christ figure. Roger represents evils or Satan. Jack represents savagery and anarchy.
The island represents the world where people live. The scar represents man’s destruction or destructive forces. The beast represents the evil residing within everyone or the dark side of human nature. The Lord of the Flies represents the Devil and great danger or evil. There are many other aspects in the story that may be considered symbolism, but the several that I mentioned are probably the most significant. Another good example of symbolism is the shape of the island. The boat shape of the island is an ancient symbol of civilization. The water current around the island seems to be “flowing backwards,” giving the subtle impression that civilization may be going backwards for the island or its inhabitants.
William Golding presented numerous themes and basic ideas that give the reader something to think about. One of the most basic and obvious themes is that society holds everyone together, and without these conditions, our ideals, values, and the basics of right and wrong are lost. Without society’s rigid rules, anarchy and savagery can come to light.
Golding is also showing that morals come directly from our surroundings, and if there is no civilization around us, we will lose these values. Other characteristics of human beings that he showed in the book are that people will abuse power when it’s not earned. When given a chance, people often take advantage or degrade others to improve their own security. The author also showed that you can only cover up inner savagery so long before it breaks out, given the right situation.
Just like what happened to Jack. He also showed in the book that it’s better to examine the consequences of a decision before you make it than to discover them afterward. Another theme in the book that I have observed is that the fear of the unknown can be a powerful force, which can turn you to either insight or hysteria. Just like what happened when they fear the unknown figure that they saw in the island which led them to murder Simon.
I agree with the author’s theories on the basic nature of human beings. Without the values or morals being taught in our society and the basic knowledge of good and evil people will have a tendency to become savage or evil because it is part of the human nature. It goes back to the fall of the first man named Adam. After the fall, sin became a part of the human nature. Without the teachings of good values and morals, savagery will manifest in people.