Lord of the Flies Analysis
“Lord of the Flies” is a book written by William Golding in 1954, a decade after World War II that inspired the Nobel Prize winning novel. From 1939—1945 World War II had killed millions of troops and civilians alike, destroying the world’s economy with total war. Had this chaos continued on, the world would have been completely destroyed and civilization would have ceased to exist. Similarly, in “Lord of the Flies”, the boys start out with an orderly civilization but soon descend into chaos and violence resulting in the death of two boys, one on accident and one on purpose. Lord of the Flies” demonstrates how once the boundaries and restrictions of civilization are ignored or shunned, humans will use their savage instincts and chaos will reign over. Having witnessed all this with his own eyes as a naval commander, Golding wrote the novel to stop any more outbreak of war and to encourage peace but he also wrote it to show the world how all humans had an inner evil and a savage instinct that would take over once their rational side was gone. The novel is a microcosm of the real world, with each character or object representing an aspect of human nature, but at the same time a macrocosm of the human brain.
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The conch represents order and authority, Piggy’s glasses representing knowledge, insight and wisdom. Piggy himself is the scientific analytical part of society; Ralph represents the democratic orderly aspect of society; Jack the tyrannical ignorant society and Simon the innocent aspect. In a way, these children symbolize real life characters of World War II, Piggy Albert Einstein, as he knew the atomic bomb was a mistake, Ralph Franklin Roosevelt as he failed to prevent World War II, Jack Adolf Hitler a crazy dictator.
In the earlier stages of the novel, Golding shows that when humans are in civilization and kept within rules they will follow them and be orderly. Ralph, then leader of the tribe, says, “We can’t have everybody talking at once. We’ll have to have ‘Hands-up’ like at school. ” In this, he says that they will make rules and follow them in order to stay orderly for a better chance of rescue and staying alive. He is trying to stay rational: keeping the rules of his old life and ensuring that they don’t descend into savagery and become atavistic.
This shows that humans do have the capacity to be civilized, peaceful and orderly if they are nurtured well enough and they are taught what is right and wrong. Secondly, Golding demonstrates how humans have an inner urge to hurt others and will only hold back due to past punishments and teachings. This is shown in, “Roger gathered a handful of stones and began to throw them – threw to miss … here, invisible yet strong was the taboo of old life”. In this quote, Roger is throwing rocks at Percival Wenys Madison who is playing by the beach.
It shows how society is starting to fall apart as the biguns are using their strength and power to bully the littluns. However, Roger can’t bring himself to hit Percival with the rocks, as there was still the “protection of parents and school and policemen and the law”, since the vestiges of his old life still held strong. In this Chapter, the tribe has just built their civilization and the civilized, rational side is stronger than their savage, instinctive side.
However, it is obvious that the tribe’s sensible side will break down soon; the biguns will lose any respect or bindings they felt to these rules; and murder, violence and torture will rage through the tribe. This is conclusively shown when Roger rolls a massive boulder down at Piggy at Castle Rock when he is so savage he is no longer “throwing to miss”. This shows how humans have a inner urge to hurt and torment others as Roger throws stones holding back only due to his past life, but doing it freely the second civilization is gone.
Next, Golding shows the continuing descent into savagery when Jack puts on a mask to hide himself from shame and self-consciousness. “Became a bloodthirsty snarling… the mask was a thing on its own, behind which Jack hid, liberated from shame and self-consciousness. ” In this quote, Jack Merridew has put on a mask to hide himself from others, so that he can act however he wishes to, without his movements and actions being judged by others. Because of this, he acts savagely and primitively, snarling bloodthirstily.
The verb “Snarl” is generally used on savage animals like lions and wolves; to use it on a human shows that they are being atavistic and becoming a primal being. While this is definitely savage behavior, as Jack puts on a mask, snarls at others and also goes hunting, it is not so bad as the mask is in a way a good thing. While the boys are increasingly savage, but they still refuse to succumb to the primal instincts in the open where everyone knows it’s them; of course a mask does not make much of a difference but it shows that they still prefer to have something to hide behind.
Ultimately, the boys are still descending into savagery and civilization is breaking down, though not too badly. Moreover, Golding in the novel also suggests that also humans have an inner evil, a “beast” within them. We can see this from the quote found in Chapter 5 “Maybe there’s a beast… maybe it’s only us. ” Simon says this in the assembly the boys called to discuss the beast. While most of the boys laugh off this “preposterous” suggestion, Simon is the first to realize that the beast is not an external being, but a part of the boys themselves, a component of the human mind.
These words are a vital part of Golding’s proposition that humankind has an inner evil within them, a “beast” that can be unleashed, a capacity to be evil. This is shown when the boys savagely kill Simon mistaking him for the beast and also when they stick a Pigs head on a stick, planning on doing the same with Ralph. These actions are considered savage and impossible for every human on earth, let alone a group of 8-year-old British children. Therefore, Golding demonstrates that all humans have an inner capacity to be evil, a “beast” within.
Golding also proved that humans would lose control of themselves once the boundaries of civilization are gone and they will succumb to their savage instincts. “’If only they could get a message to us,” cried Ralph desperately, ‘If only they could us something grown-up…’”. This quote shows that the tribe’s laws are starting to disappear and slip away. They are losing control of themselves and letting go of their civilized instincts. Ralph thinks this when the boys start to behave savagely and go hunting half-naked with masks on etc.
They are completely losing control of themselves and letting their savage instincts overpower their civilized instincts. This shows Golding’s point that humans will lose control of civilization and their rational side of their mind when they are left alone for too long without a civilization to stick to. Also, Golding presents how humans all have an inner urge to hurt others and a desire to inflict pain upon others. This can be best seen in the quote: “Roger ran around the heap, prodding with his spear, whenever pig flesh appeared.
Jack was on top of the sow, stabbing downward with his knife. ” During this quote, the boys are on a hunt for the beast, after hearing about its existence on top of the mountain from Sam and Eric. However, they see a pig and they decide to stop for a pig hunt. After they successfully slow down the pig with a thrown spear and they catch it, the boys start savagely piling on to the pig and stabbing it to kill it. With Jack and Roger stabbing down whenever they see Pig flesh, this scene can seem very savage and uncanny for boys their age to act like this.
This scene can not only be associated with murder which is already a extremely savage crime reserved only for perhaps the perhaps the worst of human kind but can also be associated with rape which is one of the most savage crimes mankind can commit if not the most savage, primal and barbaric act that exists. Also, the boys were not only killing the pig savagely, but they were also hard-driven by themselves to kill this pig, which can be seen from this quote. The desire to squeeze and hurt was over-mastering”, this quote also shows that the boys acted out of instinct and desire, showing that their gradual descent into savagery is speeding up and this sudden moment is a very steep decline, which pushes the boys from civilized British boys, to tribal savages. Also, in this quote, the boys are not even hunting a pig, but playing a mock-hunt with a human! This fully proves that humans have a natural instinct to hurt others and inflict pain as they savagely killed the pig because they had the desire to squeeze and hurt.
Within the novel, Golding shows that humankind will completely stray away from civilization when given chance to not be restricted. “The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee; the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist. ” In this quote, Roger – upon deciding that he was feeling left out of the confrontation down below between Ralph and Jack – leans his weight against a boulder which tumbles down the cliff and strikes Piggy, who is killed by the boulder, and the conch is destroyed oo. As mentioned earlier, the conch is a symbol of civilization the boys used to keep themselves orderly. However it is destroyed when the boulder rolls down symbolizing the loss of order and rationale to the boulder, likely symbolizing savagery and bloodlust. Also Piggy who represents the scientific, analyzing, smart side of the human mind is killed, showing that all that is left in the tribe is the savage and evil of Jack and Roger as Ralph is completely disregarded by the tribe.
This is showing that without civilization, humans (Jack and the tribe) will rid themselves of rational and order (Piggy and the conch) and act as they will instead of being civilized and orderly. Finally, Golding shows humans still have some good in them, as they will weep and regret their wrongs and act civilized when given the chance to be in a civilized orderly world, but also explicitly states that there is evil in all human hearts. This can be seen in the quote from Page 225 in Chapter 12: “Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart and the fall through the air of a true, wise friend called Piggy. This quote is the second last paragraph of the novel and occurs just after the naval officer has come on to the island due to being drawn by the fire caused by Jack’s tribe and his manhunt for Ralph. When Ralph sees the officer in his escape for life, he suddenly realizes that he will reach home safe and sound, away from his death on the island. However, for Ralph the prospect of rescue and home is not of joy beyond compare, as he has lost his innocence through their savage adventures upon this doomed island and he has also learnt and understood that evil lurks in all human beings.
Through this quote, Golding connects clearly Ralph sense of despair and self-reflection to two vital themes within the novel: the boys loss of innocence and their rapid descent into savagery and the darkness in man’s heart that caused the trauma on the island and also World War II. Also, the noun “darkness” can be connoted with evil and savagery. However, Golding not only shows that evil lurks in man’s heart, but in this quote alone, I think Golding also wants to show that humans are capable of goodness and the ability to self-reflect and improve.
This can be seen as Ralph “weeps for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart”. He feels regretful of what has happened on the island even though he himself had little or no part in the fall into savagery and process of becoming atavistic. “The fall through the air of a true, wise friend Piggy” shows that Ralph is reflecting what happened on the island and he finally comes to realize how important Piggy was to him and society, he was smart, intelligent and civilized, had they listened to him, all this would likely have never happened.
This weeping and self-reflecting from Ralph shows that Golding still believes that there is some good within mankind and that they are not completely evil. In conclusion, Golding presents humanity as evil and shows humans have to be nurtured to be good. He is saying that in the battle of Nature vs. Nurture humans will usually succumb to Nature and Instinct and be Evil and Barbaric, if they are not nurtured by something or someone else to be good. To do this effectively, He has used young, innocent boys to show that even the ideal image of innocence (children) will be evil if they are not nurtured.
Also, the fact that they are British shows that even with the best nurturing in the world: Britain, at least in perception has very good manners and being one of the most civilized countries in the world. If they are left not nurtured, they will be evil and follow natural human evil instinct. This connects to the overall message of the novel, which is saying that all humans will become evil if left outside of civilization, and the hidden overall message being that if the Second World War were continuously fought down the road, human civilization would be destroyed just like the boy’s civilization.
And it is related to this story because it is showing the adults and the Nazis are also being evil because they are succumbing to nature and forgetting about nurturing. However, this story could be a fable because story is very unrealistic and had close to 0% chances of happening because 6 or 7 year olds would not want to stick a pig let alone a stick person’s head on a stick.