he 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 progressivedegradationand
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 this novel to prove that it is not only adults hat have
the capacity to do evil. Children are budding adults and represent the
future, how frightening may this future be?
Golding had been a schoolmaster and had fought during the Cold War.
These are some of the elements of his life and experiences, which he
relates into his book. His practice as a schoolmaster might be why he chose
schoolboys to be stranded on a desert island. He feels that children are
innocent and nave yet potentially sadistic and evil, for adults were once
children. William Golding had witnessed much violence, bloodshed and death
during the War. He saw with his own eyes how mankind could descend so low
and spill blood remorselessly. This and the introduction of atomic weapons
changed a lot of opinions and views of life, death, war and their intimate
relationship. Golding shared the concerns of the people of that time who
felt that the use of atomic weapons could end the world as they knew it
with a single dispute.