Essay, Research Paper: Lord Of The Flies By William Golding

Literature: Lord of The Flies

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The classic novel Lord of the Flies by William Golding is an exciting adventure
deep into the nether regions of the mind. The part of the brain that is
suppressed by the mundane tasks of modern society. It is a struggle between
Ralph and Jack, the boys and the Beast, good and evil. The story takes a look at
what would happen if a group of British school boys were to become stranded on
an island. At first the boys have good intentions, keep a fire going so that a
passing ship can see the smoke and rescue them, however because of the inherent
evil of the many the good intentions of the few are quickly passed over for more
exciting things. The killing of a pig slowly begins to take over the boys life,
and they begin to go about this in a ritualistic way, dancing around the dead
animal and chanting. As this thirst for blood begins to spread the group is
split into the "rational (the fire-watchers) pitted against the irrational
(the hunters) (Dick 121)." The fear of a mythological "beast" is
perpetuated by the younger members of the groups and they are forced to do
something about it. During one of the hunters' celebrations around the kill of
an animal a fire-watcher stumbles in to try and disband the idea of the monster.
Caught of in the rabid frenzy of the dance, this fire-watcher suddenly becomes
the monster and is brutally slaughtered by the other members of the group. The
climax of the novel is when the hunters are confronted by the fire-watchers. The
hunters had stole Piggy's (one of the fire-watchers) glasses so that they may
have a means of making a cooking fire. One of the more vicious hunters roles a
boulder off of a cliff, crushing Piggy, and causing the death of yet another
rational being. The story concludes with the hunters hunting Ralph (the head and
last of the fire-watchers). After lighting half of the island on fire in an
attempt to smoke Ralph from his hiding place, they chase him on to the beach
only to find a ships captain and crew waiting there to rescue them, because he
saw the smoke. The novel is packed full of symbolism and irony. Golding also
communicates his message quite well. "The title refers to Beelzebub, most
stinking and depraved of all the devils: it is he, and not the God of
Christians, who is worshipped (Burgess 121)." This is just one of the many
examples of symbolism. Another would be that as the story progressed characters
names slowly begin to change. A pair of twin boys, Sam and Eric, became know as
Samneric, a single unit. Another boy completely forgot his name because he was
just lumped into the group know as the little'uns. This is symbolic of the break
down of the basic structure of society, identity. If a person does not know who
he is then he can never function properly in society. The other tool that
Golding uses very well is irony. It is very ironic that the group of boys
finally get rescued because they accidentally lit the island on fire hunting
down the last of the fire-watchers. From these example it is easy to make a
conclusion on the message the William Golding was trying to convey when he wrote
Lord of the Flies. "In Lord of the Flies he [Golding] showed how people go
to hell when the usual social controls are lifted, on desert islands real or
imaginary (Sheed 121)." Despite being heavily involved in the war efforts
during the second world war, Golding managed to not become a war novelist, this
does however, somewhat explain why most of the conflicts in his books are basic
struggles between people. "He [Golding] entered the Royal Navy at the age
of twenty-nine in December 1940, and after a period of service on mine sweepers,
destroyers, and cruisers, he became a lieutenant in command of his own
rocketship (Baker xiii)." So many of the authors of his time used the war
as the back ground or main conflict in their books, but not Golding, he is able
to use the war as his inspiration and write about the most primitive and basic
struggles that man has. One must not think that Golding did not go unchanged
from the war, because analysis of his pre-war poetry shows a much softer, more
forgiving Golding. Golding's basic philosophy can be summed up in a few words -
society is evil. All of his books deal with this idea in some way or another. It
is very easy to see how this idea is presented in Lord of the Flies where
"the good intentions of the few are overborne by the innate evil of the
many (Burgess 121)." According to one of many critics "what Golding
senses is that institutions and order imposed from with out are temporary, but
that man's irrationality and urge for destruction are enduring (Karl 119)."
According to Golding the aim of his works is "to trace the defects of
society back to the defects of human nature (Baker 5)." Golding's works
have a way about them that is distinctively his. All of his works are in some
way copied from other works, but he adapts them to fit his own needs. In his own
use of the word, Lord of the Flies and The Inheritors are "parodies"
of Ballantyne and Wells. "Golding's hallmark: a polarity expressed in terms
of a moral tension (Dick 121)." This is usually the key thing that makes a
Golding novel a Golding novel. Lord of the Flies, one of William Golding's many
novels, is a well written, well thought out writing that depicts the evils of
human nature. William Golding the man himself is qualified enough to write about
such topics because he was involved heavily in W.W.II. This caused Golding's
views on life to change to his current philosophy "The shape of society
must depend on the ethical nature of the individual and not on any political
system however apparently logical or respectable (Baker 5)." The frame work
of a Golding novel is simple and most often copied from an outside source, then
reshape to fit his purpose. Finally I think Wilfrid Sheed said it best when he
said "Golding's writing is not ideally suited to a social novel - it is
angular and ugly and the dialogue occasionally sounds immature." As a
matter of opinion though I would recommend Lord of the Flies to anyone.

Bibliography
Allen, Walter. "The Modern Novel," Contemporary Literary Criticism
Detroit: Gale Research, 1973: 120-121 Baker, James R. William Golding New York
St.Martin's Press, 1965. Burgess, Anthony. "The Novel Now: A guide to
contemporary Fiction" Contemporary Literary Criticism Detroit: Gale
Research, 1973: 120-121 Dick, Bernard F. "William Golding"
Contemporary Literary Criticism Detroit: Gale Research, 1973: 121-121 Gordan,
David J. "Saturday Review" Contemporary Literary Criticism Detroit:
Gale Research, 1973: 122-122 Karl, Krederic R. "The Metaphysical Novels of
William Golding" Contemporary Literary Criticism Detroit: Gale Research,
1973: 119-120 Sheed, Wilfrid "William Golding: The Pyramid"
Contemporary Literary Criticism Detroit: Gale Research, 1973
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