The Social, Cultural, and Historical Issues in Coral Island and Lord of the Flies

The Social, Cultural, and Historical Issues in Coral Island and Lord of the Flies

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The Social, Cultural, and Historical Issues in Coral Island and Lord of the Flies

At first sight, ‘Coral Island’ seems an extremely pompous and arrogant
novel. This, however, is because the book is being read from a 21st
century perspective, whereas when Ballantyne wrote ‘Coral Island’ it
was seen as a thoroughly enjoyable story. This is because the book
was written in the 19th century, when the people of Britain felt that
they had developed an organised society where humans were at their
best and flourishing. As Ballantyne himself described the society:

‘Britons at the top of the tree, savages and pigs at the bottom.’

Looking at ‘Coral Island’ from a 20th century point of view, Golding
analysed the book very critically and decided that it was an out of
date, arrogant, false portrayal of society and that he could write a
better book. He sat down and wrote ‘Lord of the Flies’ to show the
problems of human nature. The island in the book was used just as a
place to put his group of boys away from the adult world, but also had
symbolic values linked closely to the theme of evil in man throughout
the novel:

‘The island itself is a symbol of perfection and paradise, and the
instant that humans arrive, a scar of destruction is left through the
once perfect forest. The island is also boat shaped, and looking out
at the waves at a point on the island gives the illusion that it is
moving backwards. This symbolises a journey in which man is always
moving on, but makes no progress in life.’

As well as being linked to Golding’s beliefs, the use of the island
also enabled direct comparisons with ‘Coral Island’. Golding hated
the tone and ideas of Ballantyne in ‘Coral Island’, and expressed his
thoughts publi...

... middle of paper ...

...e 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. The officer, having interrupted a manhunt, prepares to take
the children off the island in a ship which will presently be hunting
its enemy in the same way. And who will rescue the officer?’

Overall, I think the main theme running throughout ‘Coral Island’ is
the nobility and courage of Victorian England, that the English are
innocent and that they can do nothing wrong. These views are
completely turned upside down by Golding in ‘Lord of the Flies’. I
think Golding makes a very clear point that society holds everyone
together. Without strong government and rules, mayhem and savagery
will thrive, and without policemen and schools men revert to their
primitive beginnings as hunters and killers.

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