Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Lord of the Flies


It's not often that one reads a books and becomes immediately aware of its importance. Up until now, I had only noticed this with To Kill a Mockingbird  and 1984, but today I add William Golding's Lord of the Flies to that list.

When a group of schoolboys crash-land on a remote island, it appears that the novel has all the makings of a traditional Robinson Crusoe style adventure story. The boys collect fruit, build shelters and light fires directed by their elected chief Ralph. Soon however, perhaps catalysed by nightmares of a terrifying 'beastie', the group becomes divided and descend into savagery, with terrifying consequences.

Maybe there is a beast… maybe it's only us

The way in which Golding writes heavily contrasts with the nature of the story, even in some of the darkest moments you get a sense of childish innocence. It is perhaps noticeable that this prevents some of the characters from understanding the gravitas of their situation and actions, something which we are quick to notice as readers. I think this creates an interesting conflict, while we condemn some of the boys for what happens, we also feel sympathy for their lack of understanding.

I think my favourite character is perhaps Ralph .He seemed one of the most down to earth of the boys and along with Piggy, one of the most likely to help their escape.

Can't you see the mountain? There's no signal showing. There may be a ship out there. Are you all off your rockers?"

Indeed, Golding seems to use Lord of the Flies to comment upon society as a whole, which was something I really enjoyed deciphering. The way the boys blindly follow the rules they set seems a silly in the context of the novel, however, is it really any different to our following of  a government and prime minister?

We did everything adults would do. What went wrong?

Perhaps though, the reason Lord of the Flies captivated me so much was the enduring innocence of the boys. Although their infatuation with games and the freedom they experience from a lack of 'grown ups' eventually leads to their downfall, it still captures a very British desire for adventure, something which Golding implies is not always a good thing.

The thing is - fear can't hurt you any more than a dream.


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