Themes in The Lord of the Flies

This post is all about themes in The Lord of the Flies. The theme of Lord of the Flies has been questioned and speculated about for decades. To answer the critics, Golding said that the theme was to trace the problems of society back to the sinful nature of man.

Themes in The Lord of the Flies

He wrote the book to show how political systems cannot govern society effectively without first taking into consideration the defects of human nature.

The Lord of the Flies Themes

The Need For Civilization
The most obvious of the themes of The Lord of the Flies is man's need for civilization. Contrary to the belief that man is innocent and society evil, the story shows that laws and rules, policemen and schools are necessary to keep the darker side of human nature in line. When these institutions and concepts slip away or are ignored, human beings revert to a more primitive part of their nature.

Throughout the novel, the boys fear the unknown. The littluns fear the “beastie” lurking and are plagued by nightmares about monsters. It was fear of the beast that forces the boys to sacrifice their mountain-top fire, draws boys into Jack’s group for protection, and kills Simon when he steps into the dance.

At an assembly, Piggy says there is no reason to fear a beast and upholds that none exists on the island. However, he adds a valid fear might be toward their fellow tribe members. This comment foreshadows the coming descent into savagery.

Innocence and the Loss of It
The existence of civilization allows man to remain innocent or ignorant about his true nature. Although man needs civilization, it is important that he also be aware of his more primitive instincts. Only in this way can he reach true maturity. Golding implies that the loss of innocence has little to do with age but is related to a person's understanding of human nature. It can happen at any age or not at all. Painful though it may be, this loss of innocence by coming to terms with reality is necessary if humanity is to survive.

Savagery and the "Beast"

The "beast" is a symbol Golding uses to represent the savage impulses lying deep within every human being. Civilization exists to suppress the beast. By keeping the natural human desire for power and violence to a minimum, civilization forces people to act responsibly and rationally, as boys like Piggy and Ralph do in Lord in the Flies. Savagery arises when civilization stops suppressing the beast: it's the beast unleashed.

The novel does not offer easy answers on the nature of evil. Every child adjusts to life on the island differently. Some try to bring values and rules expressed in the society they left. Others sense a new-found freedom to cast away rigid control of behavior.

Loss of Innocense
In the beginning, the island is a beautiful play land, or Garden of Eden for the boys to have fun and pass the time until rescued. They behave like all young ones, building sand castles and bathing in the sun.

The primitive life awakens the sleeping savage in some, spreading evil through the group like a cancer. Spilling blood is likened to the tempting of the forbidden fruit. The garden turns ugly and violent. In the end, Ralph cries uncontrollably on the beach, mourning the loss of innocence.

The freedom awakens an evil within Jack, in particular. Ralph is not free from evil tendencies, but struggles to control his impulses based on the morals learned from society. In the end, Ralph weeps on the beach, lamenting the blackness of man’s heart that spilled onto the island.

The Loss of Identity
Civilization separates man from the animals by teaching him to think and make choices. When civilization slips away and man reverts to his more primitive nature, his identity disintegrates. The boys use masks to cover their identity, and this allows them to kill and later to murder. The loss of a personal name personifies the loss of selfhood and identity.

The boys find themselves on the deserted island after their plane was shot down. Some kind of war is taking place. A reference is made to “the Reds”, suggesting war is being waged between England and the Communists.

The novel was published in the early days of the Cold War. The battle occurring on the island can be seen as a reflection of the broader war. In one sense, the boys take the morals and rules of society to the island. In another, they also take the violence and disagreement of the society they left.

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