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Lord of the Flies Critical Essays

By the end of the book who is dead?

❶They are also colorful tales of adventure, full of narrative joy, inventiveness, and excitement. He fails to kill the animal.

William Golding

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After all, while the boys on the island are sinking into a state of anarchy and blood lust, their civilized parents and teachers are waging nuclear war in the skies overhead. Here, Beelzebub is represented by the rotting head of the sow killed by Jack Merridew and his hunters choir members in a frenzy of bloodletting that, in the language used to describe it, has sexual overtones. Although human beings are gifted with at least a glimmer of intelligence and reason—represented in the novel by Piggy and Ralph, respectively—the power of evil is sufficient to overwhelm any opposition.

That they are British public schoolboys only adds to the irony in that perhaps the chief goal of the British public school is to instill in its charges a sense of honor and civil behavior. Jack Merridew, later to become the most barbarous of them all, enters the novel marching his choir members along in two parallel lines. The beast, the parachutist, the fire, the killing of the sow—all assume symbolic significance in the novel, justifying the label of allegory that is often applied to this work.

Lord of the Flies has attracted an immense amount of both favorable and unfavorable criticism. Most vehement among the latter critics are Kenneth Rexroth, whose essay in the Atlantic Monthly castigated the author for having written a typical "rigged" "thesis novel" whose characters "never come alive as real boys.

Baker have claimed that the popularity of the book peaked by the end of the s because of that decade's naive view of humanity and rejection of original sin. Among critics who admire Lord of the Flies , there is remarkable disagreement about the book's influences, genre, significant characters, and theme, not to mention the general philosophy of the author. He interprets Golding's book as a powerful story, capable of many interpretations, precisely because of the author's "mythopoeic power to transcend" his own allegorical "programme.

Dick, while acknowledging The Coral Island 's influence, builds on Kermode's observation that the book's strength is grounded in its mythic level by tracing the influence of the Greek dramatists, especially Euripides whose play The Bacchae Golding himself acknowledged as an important source of his thinking. Dick notes that The Bacchae and Lord of the Flies both "portray a bipolar society in which the Apollonian Golding was forty-three years old when he wrote the novel, having served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War.

According to Bernard Oldsey, "The war appears to have been an important influence on him. Lord of the Flies is deliberately modeled after R. Ballantyne's novel The Coral Island. In this story, a group of English boys are shipwrecked on a tropical island. They work hard together to save themselves. The only evil in the book is external and is personified by a tribe of cannibals that live on the island. The book offers a Victorian view of the world: By giving his characters the same names as those in Ballantyne's book and by making direct reference to The Coral Island in the text of Lord of the Flies , Golding clearly wants readers to see his book as a response to the Victorian world view.

Golding's view is a much bleaker one: At the end of the book, the adult naval officer who invokes The Coral Island almost serves as Ballantyne's voice-"I should have thought that a pack of British boys— you're all British, aren't you? Initially, critics commented less on the novel as a work of art than on its political, religious, and psychological symbolism. For example, James Stern in a review for The New York Times Book Review wrote " Lord of the Flies is an allegory on human society today, the novel's primary implication being that what we have come to call civilization is at best no more than skin deep.

Indeed, many critics have argued that Lord of the Flies is an allegory. An allegory is a story in which characters, setting, objects, and plot stand for a meaning outside of the story itself. Frequently, the writers of allegory illustrate an abstract meaning by the use of concrete images.

For example George Orwell in Animal Farm , uses animals and the barnyard as concrete representations of the Russian Revolution. Often, characters in allegories personify some abstract quality. In the medieval drama Everyman , for instance, the concrete character Everyman stands for all of humanity.

While it is possible to read Lord of the Flies as allegory, the work is so complex that it can be read as allegorizing the political state of the world in the postwar period; as a Freudian psychological understanding of human kind; or as the Christian understanding of the fall of humankind, among others.

As a political allegory, each character in Lord of the Flies represents some abstract idea of government. Ralph, for example, stands for the good-hearted but not entirely effective leader of a democratic state, a ruler who wants to rule by law derived from the common consent.

Piggy is his adviser, someone who is unable to rule because of his own social and physical shortcomings, but who is able to offer sound advice to the democratic leader. Jack, on the other hand, represents a totalitarian dictator, a ruler who appeals to the emotional responses of his followers. He rules by charisma and hysteria. Roger, the boy who takes the most joy in the slaughter of the pigs and who hurls the rock that kills Piggy, represents the henchman necessary for such a totalitarian ruler to stay in power.

Such a reading takes into account the state of the world at the end of the World War II. Roosevelt led democratic countries against totalitarian demigods such as Germany's. Lord of the Flies is William Golding's parable of life in the latter half of the twentieth century, the nuclear age, when society seems to have reached technological maturity while human morality is still prepubescent. Whether or not one agrees with the pessimistic philosophy, the idiocentric psychology or the fundamentalist theology espoused by Golding in the novel, if one is to use literature as a "window on the world," this work is one of the panes through which one should look.

The setting for Lord of the Flies is in the literary tradition of Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe and Johann Wyss's The Swiss Family Robinson , and like these earlier works provides the necessary ingredients for an idyllic utopian interlude. A plane loaded with English school boys, aged five through twelve, is being evacuated to a safe haven in, perhaps, Australia to escape the "Reds," with whom the English are engaged in an atomic war.

Somewhere in the tropics the plane is forced to crash land during a violent storm. All the adults on board are lost when the forward section of the plane is carried out to sea by tidal waves. The passenger compartment, fortuitously, skids to a halt on the island, and the young passengers escape uninjured. The boys find themselves in a tropical paradise: The sea proffers crabs and occasional fish in tidal pools, all for the taking. The climate is benign. Thus, the stage is set for an idyllic interlude during which British fortitude will enable the boys to master any possible adversity.

In fact, Golding relates that just such a nineteenth century novel, R. Ballantyne's Coral Island , was the inspiration for Lord of the Flies. In that utopian story the boy castaways overcame every obstacle they encountered with the ready explanation, "We are British, you know!

Golding's tropical sojourners, however, do not "live happily ever after. As their "society" fails to build shelters or to keep the signal fire going, fears emanating from within—for their environment is totally non-threatening—take on a larger than life reality. Vines hanging from trees become "snake things" in the imaginings of the "little'uns. Their fears become more real than existence on the tropical paradise itself when the twins, Sam 'n Eric, report their enervating experience with the wind-tossed body of the dead parachutist.

Despite Simon's declaration that "there is no beast, it's only us," and Piggy's disavowal of "ghosts and things," the fear of the unknown overcomes their British reserve and under Jack's all-too-willing chieftainship the boys' retreat from civilization begins. In the initial encounter with a pig, Jack is unable to overcome his trained aversion to violence to even stake a blow at the animal.

Soon, however, he and his choirboys-turned-hunters make their first kill. They rationalize that they must kill the animals for meat. The next step back from civilization occurs and the meat pretext is dropped; the real objective is to work their will on other living things. Then, killing begins to take on an even more sinister aspect. The first fire the boys build to attract rescuers roars out of control and one of the younger boys is accidentally burned to death.

The next death, that of Simon, is not an accident. He is beaten to death when he rushes into the midst of the ritual dance of the young savages.

Ironically, he has come to tell the boys that he has discovered that the beast they fear is not real. Then Piggy, the last intellectual link with civilization, is killed on impulse by the sadistic Roger. Last, all semblance of civilized restraint is cast-off as the now-savage tribe of boys organizes itself to hunt down and kill their erstwhile leader, Ralph, who had tried desperately to prepare them to carry on in the fashion expected of upper middle-class British youth.

That Golding intended Lord of the Flies as a paradigm for modern civilization is concretely evident at the conclusion of the work. During the final confrontation at the rock fort between Ralph and Piggy and Jack and his tribe, the reader readily forgets that these individuals in conflict are not adults. The manhunt for Ralph, too, seems relative only to the world of adults. The reader is so inclined to lose sight of the age of his characters that Golding must remind that these participants are pre-adolescents: The naval officer who interrupts the deadly manhunt sees "A semicircle of little boys, their bodies streaked with colored clay, sharp sticks in hand.

The officer does not realize—as the reader knows—that he has just saved Ralph from a sacrificial death and the other boys from becoming premeditated murderers. Neither is the irony of the situation very subtle: Simon has the revelation that evil isn't simply a component of human nature, but an active element that seeks expression.

Most societies set up mechanisms to channel aggressive impulses into productive enterprises or projects. On the island, Jack's hunters are successful in providing meat for the group because they tap into their innate ability to commit violence. To the extent that this violence is a reasoned response to the group's needs for example, to feed for the population , it produces positive effects and outcomes.

However, when the violence becomes the motivator and the desired outcome lacks social or moral value beyond itself, as it does with the hunters, at that point the violence becomes evil, savage, and diabolical. Violence continues to exist in modern society and is institutionalized in the military and politics.

Golding develops this theme by having his characters establish a democratic assembly, which is greatly affected by the verbal violence of Jack's power-plays, and an army of hunters, which ultimately forms a small military dictatorship. The boys' assemblies are likened to both ends of the social or civil spectrum, from pre-verbal tribe gatherings to modern governmental institutions, indicating that while the forum for politics has changed over the millennia, the dynamic remains the same.

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Lord of the Flies William Golding. By the end of the book who is dead?


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Lord of the Flies was driven by "Golding's consideration of human evil, a complex topic that involves an examination not only of human nature but also the causes, effects, and manifestations of evil. It demands also a close observation of the methods or ideologies humankind uses to combat evil and.

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Lord of the Flies remains Golding’s best-known work. It is a superficially simple but densely layered tale that has been labeled, among other things, a fable, a myth, an allegory, and a parable. It is a superficially simple but densely layered tale that has been labeled, among other .

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Lord of the Flies Critical Analysis Essay Words Jun 5th, 4 Pages In the novel Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, Golding illustrates many different themes. Critical Analysis on The Lord of the Flies essaysStyle is a writer's characteristic way of writing his or her choice of words, sentence structure, and use of imagery and figurative language. For example, one writer might coin new words, write in long rhythmic sentences and create striking image.