Critical Study of Lord of the Flies

William Golding opens his story by placing a group of lost schoolboys on an isolated island and therefore shatters our preconceived concepts of a civilized human nature. The presumption that if perchance an atomic war or some other devastating tragedy were to occur that could potentially wipe out civilization as we know it — and — this group of young boys were to survive, would they in fact, recreate the type of civilization that we have today. Here Golding paints a picture of deeply entrenched animal instincts inherent in all of us, that will come to the fore and most of mankind, even the most innocent of them all will inevitably revert back to some more primitive, pre-civilized lifestyle in order to survive.(1)

The book raises an important question that forces all of us to look within ourselves to determine what guides our ethical decisions and what is the basis for our societal conduct. In short, is it the inner beast or something more pervasive that is the impetus of our human nature?

Golding alludes to this fact in several quotes within the story. A perfect example of this are the words “man’s essential illness,” mentioned in the chapter “Gift for the Darkness” where Simon first comes face-to-face with the sow’s head perched on a stick with flies swarming all around it. Here he reveals the actual Lord of the Flies in the form of corruption and decay.

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