Introduction Lord of the Flies
The novel, Lord of the Flies was written by a British writer, William Golding, who made a name in fiction writing with unique thematic strands. It was first published in 1954. The novel sheds light on the behavior of the children left stranded on a long island, who start behaving entirely different from what they have been in their schools and under the guidance of a parent or a teacher. The groups are divided as they begin to think differently for survival. They fight for individuality, rationality while continuing their playfulness after they are left with none to guide them. The novel won huge applause around the world for his enticing storytelling techniques also bestowed the writer with the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983.
Summary of Lord of the Flies
During a war, a British plane involved in evacuating British schoolboys crash lands on a deserted island. It is somewhere located in tropical regions. Two young boys, Ralph and Piggy, find a conch when they stroll on the seashore. Piggy, the fatter than most boys but an intellectual one, tells Ralph, the quiet one, how to blow a horn with it. He teaches him how to use it to establish his authority over the other boys. Ralph becomes the leader of the boys and appoints Jack as in charge of the food hunters with Piggy as his unassuming adviser.
Soon after the boys assemble, Ralph takes Jack and Simon with him to explore other parts of the island for the likely existence of life. When they come back, Ralph plans to light a fire to signal the authorities or rescue them about their presence. The rest of the boys continue to roam around the island to collect woods and use Piggy’s glasses to light a fire. However, instead of keeping it alive, they quickly engage themselves in their plays and soon forget about it except Piggy. It soon dawns upon them that the youngest boy is injured and dead.
As time passes, the boys start making fun of each other as well as enjoying without having any authority of the adults around them. Ralph, as the conscious leader, however, starts complaining about the direction of Piggy that the boys are not paying attention to the fire, nor or they interested in preparing huts for them. On the other hand, Jack, with his hunters, is engaged in catching a pig, though, they fail in their act. Meanwhile, Piggy points Ralph’s attention toward a passing ship that disappears on the horizon and they lament the negligence of the boys toward keeping the fire alive. The hunters, however, do not pay much attention to his complaints despite the fury of Ralph when he points their negligence at the troublemakers with Jack as their leader. In their wild frenzy of having their first catch, they ignore the leader, Ralph, and start dancing around. When Piggy rebukes Jack, he hits him, making his glasses flying away.
As hinted by Piggy earlier, Ralph immediately catches the conch and blows it to declare his authority, yet nobody pays attention, while the “littluns” are feeling neglected, expressing their fear of some ghost or beast lurking somewhere on the island. Despite the other boys’ argument that there is no such thing, the littluns do not feel safe. When the meeting is over, a parachutist from some fighting planes land on the island but is caught in the trees to rot there. When the twins, Sam and Eric, find the man hanging on the trees, they take him as a beast and spread the terror in the camp with the news. Soon the boys form a group to hunt that monster despite a difference between Jack and Ralph, the two leading boys. They, then, inform others about that parachute and the monster that they think it is, develops further differences about the leadership of Ralph. Jack alleges his fear for further removal from the authority, while the majority of the boys veto this move. Despite this defeat, Jack takes the hunters with him to part ways, while Ralph rallies others around him to light the fire, though. Ironically, most of them flee and join Jack in his hunting game.
Soon Jack takes lead and declares himself the leader of his hunters. They hunt a sow and leave its head on a stake. When Simon dreams about it, he thinks it the Lord of the Flies that is speaking to him. He soon becomes unconscious and when comes to senses he leaves for the mountains where he comes across that dead soldier hanging with his parachute. He takes it to the Lord of the Flies and runs away to tell others, creating a mess that all the boys including Ralph and Jack, who were busy enjoying the feast of the sow, consider him a monster and kill him. However, only Piggy and Ralph are conscious of what they have done, while Jack and his hunters soon realize the loss of fire and steal the glasses of Piggy to make their own. When Ralph tries to argue with Jack, he orders his hunters to chase him to kill him. Roger, his main hunter, kills Piggy with a boulder and Ralph flees for his life, seeing the conch also shattered to pieces under the boulder.
Jack, the hunters, and other boys including Ralph chasing the game soon come to an end when British officers appear on the seashore, admonishing the boys for their mess and filthy looks, while Ralph heaves a sigh of relief after seeing an adult who has saved him from the hunters.
Major Themes in Lord of the Flies
- Loss of Innocence: The loss of innocence in the novel is shown from the way the children go astray without adults. The right path is to lead a normal life, take care of the “littluns”, pay homage to the authority, and wait for the elders to come to their rescue. Ralph’s attitude toward the littluns and Samneric is of a leader and an adult having responsibility. However, when Jack parts ways with him and Piggy, it seems that they have lost the innocence, for Jack becoming a hunter is identical to savagery.
- Savageness and Society: Lord of the Flies shows savagery in the society that is part of its members as shown through Jack and hunters. The author believes that innocence is not just an integral part; savagery is also an integral part of human nature and finds ways to come out when the times are appropriate. That is why when Ralph finds an officer on the seashore, he heaves a sigh of relief, thinking that he has saved himself from the savage hunters.
- Vice against Virtue: The novel also shows vice pitted against virtue as Ralph and Piggy represent order and virtue, while Jack and his hunters represent vice or disorder. When Ralph is made to flee from the hunters, it seems that virtue has given way to vice. However, soon the officer appears, which becomes a signal of some authority that does not let virtue face defeat.
- End of Rationalism: Piggy, the supporter of Ralph and his authority, is a lone voice of rationalism who can think with a rational mind and devise ways. However, he is physically inferior to all others except “littluns.” Therefore, Jack is always wary of him that he does not let Jack stand a chance to assume leadership. When he finds Piggy, he orders his associates to roll a boulder on him, killing him on the spot. It shows the end of rationalism, a thematic strand that appears for a short time in the storyline.
- Absence of Social Norms: The pack of children on an isolated island without the presence of an adult having authority presents a real dilemma about the social traditions, norms, and their evolutions. The author proves this thematic idea of how a person. with limited intelligence. copes with the situation of dealing with other persons in the absence of social norms. Piggy is killed on the want of laws and social regulations that emerge from norms; such as the norm of blowing a conch.
- Dehumanization: The novel shows the dark side of human nature that is to live a life of the might is right and dehumanization of nature as shown by the hunting nature of Jack, while the rational side, such as Piggy, soon witnesses his end. The hunting spree of Jack and other boys without thinking an iota about their colleague is a dehumanization of nature.
- The Nature of Evil or Vice: Evil resides in human nature side by side with virtue which comes out when authority is absent. Jack shows this side of nature when he forms his pack of hunters and attacks Piggy, killing him on the spot.
- Community against Individual: community and individual are other minor themes of the novel. The would-be leader, Ralph, is left alone in the end against the whole community of the boys chasing him. It means that an individual is left alone if he does not stand on his guard.
- Progress of Civilization: Lord of the Flies is also a critique on the progress of civilization in that a pack of English boys with rational and leading minds like Piggy and Ralph respectively go to dogs without thinking as Ralph later says what the other people will say to them that British, the crown of the civilized nation, has children as such.
- Absence of Laws: The hunting expedition of Jack, killing of Piggy, and several other such incidents show that the law protects the weak. The absence of the law is similar to giving authority to a tyrant to rule a country or allowing the criminals to roam free without fear of consequences.
Major Characters in Lord of the Flies
- Ralph: The leader and good-looking but moderately intelligent, Ralph leads the boys with Piggy as his advisor, who advises him to use the conch to establish authority. As such he proves not only the hero but also the protagonist of the novel after assuming leadership. Eventually, he loses the hold on the group to Jack and his hunters who drive almost all the boys to useless hunting, which resultantly leads them to savagery. In the end, he is left alone when Jack murders Piggy and chases Ralph to gain from him his authority, but he saves himself by running to a British officer, who just appears on the scene.
- Piggy: Piggy, though is quite weak, but a rational boy, who advises Ralph to assume the leadership, seeing in him a vision to lead. He takes care of the little boys and suggests lighting up the fire to save them from perishing on the island. However, he soon becomes the target of hunters, while Jack eyes him a likely opponent, not leaving any opportunity to either admonish, tease, or even to kill him, which he does by the end. His murder makes Ralph feel lonely when he wishes the presence of an adult and the British naval officer appears on the scene. His murder is the end of rationalism among the boys.
- Jack Merridew: The antagonist, Jack Merridew, is a powerful leader but has a vicious touch in his nature. He does not exhibit rationality or true leadership. As soon as he sees Piggy, a symbol of rational thinking among them, he becomes his staunch opponent. He forms a choir of the boys and manipulates their thinking to turn them into barbarous killers who start chasing Ralph, their own leader, after having shown their exploits in hunting a sow and dancing around it to celebrate this achievement. By the end, he assumes leadership of the savagery and hunts down Ralph, who runs away in the forest for his life.
- Simon: Simon is attached to nature and shows a spiritual aspect of life. That is why he stays alone and does not join any group, though, he stays with the group. A Christ-like figure, the author presents Simon to show how some people understand the arrival of evil but does not have the ability to confront or express it. Simon is also an example of staying neutral in times when you cannot choose.
- Samneric: They are twins. These two brothers are identical not only in nature but also in their appearances. They follow Ralph loyally but when Piggy is killed, they also lose direction, and soon they seem lost in the maze of the chase of Ralph.
- Maurice: A healthy boy, Maurice, proves a great hunter and starts training other hunters for Jack’s pack. He shows the mob mentality in blindly following the leader.
- Percival: A little boy, Percival, represents innocence, as he always needs some adult to take care of him. He becomes hysterical at times for the loss of his parents and home comfort.
- The Naval Officer: The British officer represents the authority and adulthood which stops chaos and brings order in the chaotic world. His appearance reminds the readers of the civilized western world.
- The Beast: Despite its hazy presence, the beast represents something unknown that is not only causing fear to the boys but also showing them a way to create something out of nothing. Jack uses this invisible beast for his own purpose to make others follow him.
Writing Style of Lord of the Flies
William Golding’s writing style in Lord of the Flies is pretty simple and straightforward. It carries great alluring subtleties, bordering a multiplicity of meanings for all types of readers. Despite its allegorical nature, the characters and objects along with the description seem quite realistic and direct. Most of the ordinary thematic strands and ideational presentations have brought a type of enticement in his style that is unique in its language and mesmerizing in its narrative.
Analysis of Literary Devices in Lord of the Flies
- Action: The main action of the novel comprises the crash landing of a British airplane having school children, who live a messy life on the island, making two groups; one wants to rescue the boys and the other intends to enjoy merrymaking. The rising action is Ralph’s struggle for order, safety, and organized life. The falling action, on the other hand, is his escape to save his life when Jack and his hunters chase him.
- Allegory: Lord of the Flies is an allegorical novel that shows it shows that when the civilization or leadership is absent and there is no fear of law and authority, human nature has more inclination to fall prey to vice. Savagery has the power to take over as the beast, despite its absence, takes over the entire group of the boys and terrifies the “littluns.” It could also be an allegory that when a war is taking place between the adults, another war is between innocence and savagery.
- Antagonist: Jack Merridew is the antagonist of the novel, Lord of the Flies, because he stands against the order and civilization that Ralph and his rational friend want to bring. He rather indulges in savagery and killing whatever comes in the way of him and his hunters.
- Allusion: There are various examples of the Biblical allusions given in the novel, Lord of the Flies. Simon alludes to Jesus Christ, while the head of the pig alludes to Satan that makes human being to go astray from the true path. On the other hand, Jack is the representative of Juda and the lone island is an example of paradise.
- Conflict: There are two types of conflicts in the novel, Lord of the Flies. The first one is between man and nature as it goes on between the boys and the situation on the island where they are to live. The second is about man and man and man and self which goes on between Ralph and Jack and Ralph and his thinking.
- Characters: Lord of the Flies presents both static as well as dynamic characters. Ralph is a dynamic character, as he goes through various changes and has several issues to deal with, while Jack Merridew is also a vibrant character on account of his ambitious and unpredictable nature. Piggy, however, is a static character in that he does not witness any change in his thinking from the first day to the last. Simon, too, is a static character.
- Climax: The climax in the novel arrives when Simon sees Lord of the Flies and realizes that it is a beast but then realizes that every boy has a beast in his mind. That is why when he tries to come back and join the boys, they kill him, considering him as prey. However, when Jack engineers the killing of Piggy, this is the anticlimax of Lord of the Flies.
- Foreshadowing: There are several examples of foreshadowing in Lord of the Flies. The first example of foreshadowing in the novel occurs when the boys gather together for voting and it is voiced that there may be a beast. The ensuing argument shows that it would be there soon, even if it does not exist. The second example is of Piggy who continuously refers to his aunt which shows that he always needs somebody to depend on him. The third good example is the discovery of conch and advice of Piggy, which points out that Piggy is the supplier of ideas to Ralph, who is nothing without him.
- Hyperbole: Hyperbole or exaggeration occurs when Piggy and Ralph find the conch on the seashore and Piggy thinks that the conch will bring order and authority to Ralph that he will use with his ideas. However, it proves a pipedream for him, for how a simple conch can bring order and authority among the unruly children.
- Imagery: Imagery means to use to present an image that shows the use of sense by the readers or audiences to identity it such as Ralph is shown having landed like a cat, Jake is shown behaving as an ape, while the littluns are shown as inspects. Also, the sea is shown as a creature, while the fire is shown as a jaguar. In fact, Lord of Flies is full of natural imagery as the location and the characters demonstrate it amply.
- Metaphor: Lord of the Flies shows decent use of various metaphors. For example,
i. Then the creature stepped from mirage on to clear sand, and they saw that the darkness was not all shadow but mostly clothing. (Chapter-1)
ii. He was a shrimp of a boy, about six years old, and one side of his face was blotted bout by a mulberry-colored birthmark. (Chapter-1)
iii. On one side the air was cool, but on the other, the fire thrust out a savage arm of heat that crinkled hair on the instant. (Chapter-2)The first metaphor shows the comparison of darkness with the clothing, the second boy with the shrimp, and the third fire with a savage creature.
- Mood: The novel, Lord of the Flies, shows a serious mood of horror and grief. Even though the start is quite interesting and entertaining, it suddenly transforms into somber and then sorrowful when the boys start making groups, hunting and finally killing each other.
- Motif: Most important motifs of the novel, Lord of the Flies, are the conch, glasses of Piggy, and the beast.
- Narrator: The novel, Lord of the Flies, uses the third person as a narrator of the story, which is also called an omniscient narrator. Here the author, William Golding is the narrator of the story.
- Personification: Personification means to attribute human acts and emotions to non-living objects. For example,
i. Smoke was rising here and there among the creepers that festooned the dead or dying trees. As they watched, a ﬂash of ﬁre appeared at the root of one wisp, and then the smoke thickened. Small ﬂames stirred at the trunk of a tree and crawled away through leaves and brushwood, dividing and increasing. (Chapter-2)
ii. The ﬂames, as though they were a kind of wildlife, crept as a jaguar creeps on its belly toward a line of birch-like saplings that ﬂedged an outcrop of the pink rock.
iii. Then the roof of leaves broke up and they halted, breathing quickly, looking at the few stars that pricked round the head of the mountain. (Chapter-7)These three examples show smoke, flame, and then roof as if they have human emotions.
- Protagonist: Ralph is the protagonist of the novel. He starts the novel and captures the interest of the readers until the last page when he flees for his life. Besides, he is the primary motivator of the order and civilization on the island.
- Paradox: Lord of the Flies shows the use of paradox in the behavior of the boys that fear is not outside but in their minds. Therefore, it is a paradox.
- Theme: A theme is a central idea that the novelist or the writer wants to stress upon. The novel, Lord of the Flies, not only shows the theme of conflict between vice and virtue, but also various other themes such as loss of innocent, value of the order, and above all the nature of man.
- Setting: The setting of the novel, Lord of the Flies, is the sea and the coastal area as well as the lonely island with thick forest.
- Simile: The novel shows great use of various similes such as;
i. A rock, almost detached, standing like a fort, facing them across the green with one bold, pink bastion. (Chapter-1)
ii. The breezes that on the lagoon had chased their tails like kittens were finding their way across the platform and into the forest. (Chapter-2)
iii. One patch touched a tree trunk and scrambled up like a bright squirrel. (Chapter-2)The first simile compares a rock to a fort, the second breezes to kittens, and the third the patch to a squirrel.
- Symbol: Lord of the Flies shows that the symbols of the best, glasses, fire, adults, ocean, and the island.
- Irony: The novel shows irony when the boys are engaged in talking about the beast but only Simon knows it, though, he is unable to express it.