Lord of the Flies Themes


Civilization vs. Savagery

The overarching style of Lord of the Flies is the conflict between the human impulse towards savagery and the guidelines of civilization which are created to contain and decrease it. Throughout the novel, the conflict is dramatized by the clash between Ralph and Jack, who respectively represent civilization and savagery. The varying ideologies are expressed by each kid’s distinct mindsets towards authority. While Ralph uses his authority to develop rules, protect the good of the group, and enforce the moral and ethical codes of the English society the kids were raised in, Jack has an interest in getting power over the other boys to please his most primal impulses. When Jack presumes leadership of his own tribe, he demands the total subservience of the other young boys, who not only serve him but worship him as an idol. Jack’s cravings for power suggests that savagery does not resemble anarchy even a totalitarian system of exploitation and illegal power.

Golding’s focus on the unfavorable repercussions of savagery can be checked out as a clear endorsement of civilization. In the early chapters of the novel, he recommends that one of the crucial functions of civilized society is to supply an outlet for the savage impulses that live inside each person. Jack’s preliminary desire to eliminate pigs to show his bravery, for example, is transported into the hunt, which provides needed food for the entire group. As long as he lives within the rules of civilization, Jack is not a threat to the other boys; his impulses are being re-directed into a productive task. Rather, it is when Jack declines to recognize the validity of society and declines Ralph’s authority that the hazardous aspects of his character truly emerge. Golding recommends that while savagery is perhaps an inevitable fact of human existence, civilization can reduce its full expression.

The rift between civilization and savagery is also interacted through the novel’s major signs: the conch shell, which is associated with Ralph, and The Lord of the Flies, which is related to Jack. The conch shell is a powerful marker of democratic order on the island, confirming both Ralph’s leadership-determined by election-and the power of assembly among the kids. Yet, as the dispute between Ralph and Jack deepens, the conch shell loses symbolic importance. Jack declares that the conch is worthless as a symbol of authority and order, and its decrease in value signals the decrease of civilization on the island. At the exact same time, The Lord of the Flies, which is an offering to the mythical “monster” on the island, is progressively invested with significance as a sign of the supremacy of savagery on the island, and of Jack’s authority over the other kids. The Lord of the Flies represents the unification of the young boys under Jack’s guideline as motivated by fear of “outsiders”: the beast and those who contradict Jack’s authority. The damage of the conch shell at the scene of Piggy’s murder symbolizes the complete eradication of civilization on the island, while Ralph’s demolition of The Lord of the Flies-he plans to utilize the stick as a spear-signals his own descent into savagery and violence. By the last scene, savagery has completely displaced civilization as the dominating system on the island.

Individualism vs. Community

One of the crucial issues of Lord of the Flies is the role of the individual in society. A number of the issues on the island-the extinguishing of the signal fire, the lack of shelters, the mass abandonment of Ralph’s camp, and the murder of Piggy-stem from the young boys’ implicit dedication to a concept of self-interest over the principle of community. That is, the boys would rather fulfill their individual desires than cooperate as a meaningful society, which would require that every one act for the good of the group. Appropriately, the concepts of individualism and community are signified by Jack and Ralph, respectively. Jack wants to “have fun” on the island and please his bloodlust, while Ralph wishes to protect the group’s rescue, a goal they can accomplish just by working together. Yet, while Ralph’s vision is the most sensible, it needs work and sacrifice on the part of the other boys, so they rapidly shirk their social tasks in favor of satisfying their individual desires. The shelters do not get built since the young boys would rather play; the signal fire is extinguished when Jack’s hunters stop working to tend to it on schedule.

The boys’ self-interestedness culminates, of course, when they choose to sign up with Jack’s tribe, a society without common worths whose appeal is that Jack will offer them total flexibility. The appeal of his people shows the huge appeal of a society based on private flexibility and self-interest, but as the reader soon learns, the liberty Jack uses his tribe is illusory. Jack implements punitive and irrational guidelines and restricts his boys’ habits far more than Ralph did. Golding therefore suggests not just that some level of common system is superior to one based on pure self-interest, however also that pure private flexibility is a difficult value to sustain within a group dynamic, which will constantly tend towards social company. The hard concern, naturally, is what individuals are willing to quit to gain the benefits of remaining in the group.

The Nature of Evil

Is evil innate within the human spirit, or is it an influence from an external source? What function do societal rules and institutions play in the existence of human evil? Does the capacity for wicked differ from individual to person, or does it depend upon the circumstances each specific faces? These questions are at the heart of Lord of the Flies which, through detailed representations of the boys’ different actions to their circumstance, presents a complex articulation of humanity’s capacity for evil.

It is necessary to keep in mind that Golding’s unique turns down supernatural or spiritual accounts of the origin of human evil. While the kids fear the “beast” as a personification of evil comparable to the Christian principle of Satan, the unique highlights that this analysis is not just incorrect however likewise, paradoxically, the inspiration for the kids’ progressively terrible and violent habits. It is their unreasonable worry of the beast that informs the young boys’ paranoia and leads to the deadly schism between Jack and Ralph and their respective fans, and this is what avoids them from acknowledging and resolving their responsibility for their own impulses. Rather, as The Lord of the Flies communicates to Simon in the forest glade, the “beast” is an internal force, present in every person, and is hence incapable of being genuinely beat. That the most ethical characters on the island-Simon and Ralph-each pertain to recognize his own capacity for evil indicates the novel’s focus on evil’s universality amongst people.

Nevertheless, the novel is not entirely downhearted about the human capability for good. While wicked impulses might prowl in every human psyche, the strength of these impulses-and the capability to manage them-appear to vary from private to specific. Through the different characters, the unique provides a continuum of evil, varying from Jack and Roger, who are eager to engage in violence and cruelty, to Ralph and Simon, who have a hard time to contain their brutal instincts. We might keep in mind that the characters who have a hard time most successfully against their wicked instincts do so by appealing to ethical or social codes of behavior. For example, Ralph and Piggy require the return of Piggy’s glasses due to the fact that it is the “best thing to do.” Golding suggests that while evil might be present in all of us, it can be successfully suppressed by the social standards that are imposed on our behavior from without or by the moral standards we decide are naturally “excellent,” which we can internalize within our wills.

The ambiguous and deeply ironic conclusion of Lord of the Flies, however, casts doubt on society’s role in forming human evil. The marine officer, who repeats Jack’s rhetoric of nationalism and militarism, is engaged in a bloody war that is accountable for the young boys’ airplane crash on the island and that is mirrored by the civil war amongst the survivors. In this sense, much of the evil on the island is an outcome not of the kids’ range from society, but of their internalization of the standards and perfects of that society-norms and perfects that justify and even prosper on war. Are the kids damaged by the internal pressures of an essentially violent humanity, or have they been damaged by the environment of war they were raised in? Lord of the Flies deals no clear service to this concern, provoking readers to ponder the complex relationships amongst society, morality, and human nature.

Guy vs. Nature

Lord of the Flies presents the concern of guy’s perfect relationship with the natural world. Thrust into the completely natural surroundings of the island, in which no humans exist or have actually existed, the boys reveal various attitudes towards nature that reflect their distinct personalities and ideological leanings. The kids’ relationships to the natural world normally fall under among 3 classifications: subjugation of nature, harmony with nature, and subservience to nature. The very first category, subjugation of nature, is embodied by Jack, whose very first impulse on the island is to track, hunt, and kill pigs. He seeks to impose his human will on the natural world, subjugating it to his desires. Jack’s later actions, in specific setting the forest fire, reflect his deepening contempt for nature and demonstrate his militaristic, violent character. The second category, consistency with nature, is embodied by Simon, who finds appeal and peace in the natural environment as exhibited by his preliminary retreat to the isolated forest glade. For Simon, nature is not male’s enemy but belongs to the human experience. The 3rd classification, subservience to nature, is embodied by Ralph and is the opposite position from Jack’s. Unlike Simon, Ralph does not find serene harmony with the natural world; like Jack, he understands it as a challenge to human life on the island. However while Jack responds to this viewed conflict by acting destructively towards animals and plant life, Ralph reacts by retreating from the natural world. He does not take part in searching or in Simon’s excursions to the deep wilderness of the forest; rather, he stays on the beach, the most humanized part of the island. As Jack’s searching expresses his violent nature to the other kids and to the reader, Ralph’s desire to remain different from the natural world emphasizes both his unwillingness to lure threat and his affinity for civilization.

Dehumanization of Relationships

In Lord of the Flies, among the results of the boys’ descent into savagery is their increasing failure to acknowledge each other’s humanity. Throughout the unique, Golding uses imagery to imply that the kids are no longer able to compare themselves and the pigs they are hunting and eliminating for food and sport. In Chapter 4, after the first effective pig hunt, the hunters re-enact the hunt in a routine dance, utilizing Maurice as a stand-in for the doomed pig. This episode is just a dramatization, but as the young boys’ collective impulse towards complete savagery grows more powerful, the parallels between human and animal magnify. In Chapter 7, as several of the boys are hunting the beast, they duplicate the routine with Robert as a stand-in for the pig; this time, however, they get consumed by a type of “craze” and come close to really eliminating him. In the exact same scene, Jack jokes that if they do not eliminate a pig next time, they can eliminate a littlun in its location. The repeated alternative of kid for pig in the childrens’ ritual games, and in their discussion, calls attention to the repercussions of their self-gratifying habits: concerned only with their own base desires, the young boys have actually become unable to see each other as anything more than things subject to their private wills. The more pigs the boys kill, the simpler it ends up being for them to harm and eliminate each other. Maltreating the pigs facilitates this process of dehumanization.

The early episodes in which kids are substituted for pigs, either verbally or in the hunting dance, likewise foreshadow the tragic occasions of the book’s later chapters, especially the murders of Simon and Piggy and the attempt on Ralph’s life. Simon, a character who from the beginning of the novel is associated with the natural landscape he has an affinity for, is murdered when the other children error him for “the beast”-a legendary inhuman animal that acts as an outlet for the kids’s fear and unhappiness. Piggy’s name links him symbolically to the wild pigs on the island, the instant target for Jack’s violent impulses; from the start, when the other boys decline to call him anything but “Piggy,” Golding establishes the character as one whose humanity is, in the eyes of the other young boys, unclear. The murders of Simon and Piggy demonstrate the kids’ complete descent into savagery. Both literally (Simon) and symbolically (Piggy), the young boys have ended up being identical from the animals that they stalk and kill.

The Loss of Innocence

At the end of Lord of the Flies, Ralph weeps “for completion of innocence,” a lament that retroactively makes explicit one of the book’s significant issues, specifically, the loss of innocence. When the young boys are first deserted on the island, they act like kids, alternating in between enjoying their freedom and expressing profound homesickness and fear. By the end of the unique, however, they mirror the military habits of the grownups of the Home Counties: they assault, abuse, and even murder one another without hesitation or regret. The loss of the young boys’ innocence on the island runs parallel to, and informs their descent into savagery, and it recalls the Bible’s story of the Fall of Male from paradise.

Accordingly, the island is coded in the early chapters as a sort of paradise, with idyllic landscapes, fresh fruit, and remarkable weather condition. Yet, as in the Biblical Eden, the temptation towards corruption is present: the younger kids fear a “snake-thing.” The “snake-thing” is the earliest incarnation of the “monster” that, eventually, will provoke paranoia and department amongst the group. It also clearly recalls the snake from the Garden of Eden, the personification of Satan who triggers Adam and Eve’s fall from grace. The kids’ increasing belief in the monster shows their steady loss of innocence, a descent that culminates in catastrophe. We may likewise note that the landscape of the island itself moves from an Edenic space to a hellish one, as marked by Ralph’s observation of the ocean tide as an impenetrable wall, and by the storm that follows Simon’s murder.

The forest glade that Simon retreats to in Chapter 3 is another example of how the young boys’ loss of innocence is signed up on the natural landscape of the island. Simon initially appreciates the clearing as serene and stunning, however when he returns, he discovers The Lord of the Flies impaled at its center, an effective sign of how the innocence of youth has been corrupted by fear and savagery.

Even the most understanding kids develop along a character arc that traces a fall from innocence (or, as we might euphemize, a journey into maturity). When Ralph is first presented, he is acting like a kid, sprinkling in the water, mocking Piggy, and laughing. He tells Piggy that he is particular that his daddy, a marine commander, will rescue him, a conviction that the reader comprehends as the wishful thinking of a little young boy. Ralph repeats his belief in their rescue throughout the unique, shifting his hope that his own daddy will discover them to the much more reasonable property that a passing ship will be drawn in by the signal fire on the island. By the end of the unique, he has lost hope in the kids’ rescue completely. The development of Ralph’s character from idealism to cynical realism reveals the level to which life on the island has actually eradicated his youth.

The Negative Consequences of War

In addition to its other resonances, Lord of the Flies remains in part an allegory of the Cold War. Therefore, it is deeply worried about the unfavorable results of war on people and for social relationships. Made up throughout the Cold War, the book’s action unfolds from a theoretical atomic war between England and “the Reds,” which was a clear word for communists. Golding therefore presents the non-violent tensions that were unfolding throughout the 1950s as culminating into a deadly conflict-a story method that develops the novel as a cautionary tale versus the risks of ideological, or “cold,” warfare, becoming hot. Moreover, we might understand the dispute among the young boys on the island as a reflection of the conflict between the democratic powers of the West and the communist existence throughout China, Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union. (China’s cultural revolution had not yet occurred, but its communist revolution was fresh in Western memory.) Ralph, an embodiment of democracy, clashes tragically with Jack, a character who represents a design of military dictatorship comparable to the West’s understanding of communist leaders such as Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong. Dressed in a black cape and cap, with flaming red hair, Jack also aesthetically stimulates the “Reds” in the fictional world of the novel and the historical U.S.S.R., whose signature colors were red and black. As the tension between the boys pertains to a bloody head, the reader sees the harmful consequences of ideological conflict.

The arrival of the marine officer at the conclusion of the story underscores these allegorical points. The officer embodies war and militaristic thinking, and as such, he is symbolically connected to the harsh Jack. The officer is likewise English and therefore linked to the democratic side of the Cold War, which the novel vehemently safeguards. The implications of the officer’s existence are intriguing: Golding suggests that even a war waged in the name of civilization can lower mankind to a state of barbarism. The supreme scene of the novel, in which the kids weep with sorrow for the loss of their innocence, links contemporary readers in the young boys’ catastrophe. The kids are agents, nevertheless immature and untutored, of the wartime impulses of the period.

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