William Golding was inspired by his experiences in the Royal Navy during World War II when he wrote Lord of the Flies (Beetz 2514). Golding has said this about his book:
The theme is an attempt to trace the defeats of society back to the defects of human nature. The moral is that the shape of society must depend on the ethical nature of the individual and not on any political system however apparently logical or respectable. The whole book is symbolic in nature except the rescue in the end where adult life appears, dignified and capable, but in reality enmeshed in the same evil as the symbolic life of the children on the island. (Epstein 204)
In the novel he displays the two different personalities that mankind possesses, one civilized, the other primitive. Golding uses the setting, characters, and symbolism in Lord of the Flies to give the reader a detailed description of these two faces of man.
The story's setting is essential for the evolution of both sides of man. When an airplane carrying a bunch of school boys crashes on an island, only the children survive. The island the children find themselves on is roughly boat-shaped (Golding 29; ch. 1). It is ironic that the children are stuck on an island shaped like the thing that could save them (a boat). Despite this irony, they are trapped. They are surrounded by ocean and no one knows where they are. The boys, isolated from society, must now create their own.
The children soon realize that there are, "No grownups!" (Golding 8; ch. 1) This means that the boys must fend for themselves until they are rescued. There are no parents or adults to give the boys rules or punish them i...
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...etz, Kirk H., ed. Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction. Vol. 5. Osprey: n.p., 1996. 5 vols.
Epstein, E. L. Afterword. Lord of the Flies. By William Golding. New York: Berkley, 1954.
Gunton, Sharon R., ed. Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 17. Detroit: Gale, 1981. 68 vols.
Magill, Frank N., ed. Masterplots. Vol. 2. Englewood Cliffs: n.p., 1949. 3 vols.
Matuz, Roger., ed. Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 58. Detroit: Gale, 1990. 68 vols.
Michel-Michot, Paulette. "The Myth of Innocence,". Matuz 175-7.
Rosenfield, Claire. "ŒMen of a Smaller Growth': A Psychological Analysis of William Golding's Lord of the Flies." Matuz 172-5.
Spitz, David. "Power and Authority: An Interpretation of Golding's Lord of the Flies,". Gunton 172-3.
Taylor, Harry H. "The Case against William Golding's Simon-Piggy." Gunton 170-1.
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