Themes in Lord of the Flies

1426 words (6 pages) Essay

18th May 2020 English Literature Reference this

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Lord of the Flies written by William Golding provides the readers with significant insight into the modern world, as the continuous power struggle is a current issue in numerous platforms of our life. The following relevance results in Lord of the Flies being an appropriate novel for the curriculum in schools. Novels like Lord of the Flies are being replaced with books which, unfortunately, are only relevant for a short period. Many disagree that Lord of the Flies should be used in the curriculum stating that it is no longer relevant for the youth in today’s times.  This essay will be evaluating the relevance of Lord of the Flies for the youth, in today’s society.

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By evaluating themes such as civilization vs. savagery, individualism vs. community, man vs. nature and lastly, the loss of innocence. The predominant theme of Lord of the Flies is the conflict between the human instinct towards savagery and the importance of rules within a civilization which are made to maintain a sense of lawfulness and order.  Continuously throughout Lord of the Flies the conflict and clash between Ralph and Jack are evident.  They both struggle with civilization versus savagery issues. In the early chapters of the novel, the children’s behaviour was monitored and they were protected by their parents, teachers and people with authority. Jack is given the task of killing the pig and is unable to do so even though he is hungry because of the “horror of the knife cutting into living flesh”. Roger is unable to harm the boys by throwing stones at them, even though he is capable of causing harm, he has been conditioned by the society he used to live in.

This type of society the children live in is reflected in the savagery they exposed to later in the novel.  This is relevant for the youth today because the systems put in place in a child’s life such as school ensures that there are structures and certain rules that they need to abide by which are civilized. However, the children may be faced with unexpected impulses that may be introduced to them by others or their surroundings influencing their choices and decisions. These deviant actions, like in Lord of the Flies, will always have negative consequences that result in harm and destruction of themselves and others. When laws and morals no longer apply to man then the evil within them will escape. This lawlessness is evident in our society’s mass shootings, gangs, political greed and moral decay thereby confirming Golding’s opinion that savagery is unavoidable in human existence and that civilization can diminish.

There is a key concern in Lord of the Flies and that is the role of an individual within society and if they are able to consider what would be best for them as opposed to making selfish choices based on their own desires.  There are many issues which arise from extinguishing the signal fire, lack of shelter, the murder of Piggy and the abandonment of Ralph’s camp.  All of these issues stem from the boy’s inability to consider their group as a whole and their actions are selfish and they put their own desires ahead of the good of the group. In the lord of the flies, greed leads to honourable decay, their resources are being diminished which cost them their lives. This can be seen in countries such as South Africa whereby individuals are spending more money than what they earn, living above their means. This creates a large amount of debt leading to a community creating an economic downfall and a lower standard of living. Similarly, in Lord of the Flies, the fire was a 24-hour task, hunting needed the whole group to work together and make sacrifices, however, they do not hesitate to avoid their duty within their society.  Choosing to take part in the hunt and risking missing out on a rescue. Thus, they refused to cooperate as a coherent society which ultimately resulted in their downfall as a unified group.

Greed is also evident in the theme man vs. nature. In the novel, Lord of the Flies, the boy’s all have different relationships with nature they are varied and they change as their morals decay. The first destruction of nature is displayed by Jack who had the first natural impulse to track the pigs on the island and hunt and kill them.  He tries to impose his will onto others and disregards their feelings for his own selfish desires. Jack also participates in setting the forest on fire, by doing this he further portrays his disregard for nature in his militaristic approach and violent character.

Additionally the theme of harmony versus nature, this is exemplified by Simon.  He embraces nature and retreats to the isolated forest glade, he enjoys being in nature and he does not see it as the enemy but rather just part of life.  These two themes are extremely applicable in modern times as youth play a vital role in the relationship one has with the earth’s sustainable future. Just like Jack, people disregard sustainability due to their selfish desires such as poaching, polluting and even the excessive use of electricity. The moral here is that if society continues to misuse nature and use it for their own desires then just like the island in Lord of the Flies, everything will be destroyed and the community will be left stranded.

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Lastly, in Lord of the Flies, the theme of the loss of innocence is very dominant and relatable. At first, when the boys were deserted on the island, they behave like children unaware of what’s occurring around them, alternating between being independent and free to being fearful and homesick. As time goes by, however, Ralph weeps “for the end of innocence”. This loss of innocence is prevalent throughout the novel. The boys replace play with hunting and killing. This facilitates the process of the loss of innocence which is evident when they substitute a boy for a pig in their ritual games and in conversation they become aware of their loss of innocence and the consequence thereof. Subsequently, the boys cannot see each other as peers anymore but see them as objects. The more pigs the boys kill, the easier killing becomes it becomes easy for them to harm and kill each other.

The following is relevant for the youth today as juvenile criminality is increasing each year in and out of schools. More children are becoming involved in recreational drugs, alcohol and violence. This loss of innocence is accumulative and consequently results in the deviant behaviour increasing to more violent crimes. This is evident in America where children who are associated with violent behaviour are now commonly known for shootings at school. Children involved in recreational drugs and alcohol often participate in petty crimes, however, this loss of innocence has the potential to develop further and result in the youth becoming progressively deviant. This is evident in gang violence, bullying and crimes such as theft, rape and murder. Thus, as before mentioned, the novel emphasizes the importance of a civilized society to provide the youth with a moral basis and understanding of the consequences of their actions.

Thus, Lord of the Flies depicts our present society. It highlights the darkness of man’s heart and where the breakdown of restraint can result in killing and violence. Additionally, the novel emphasizes man’s nature to be selfish, by placing our desires above the needs of the community. This is evident in our destruction of nature around us. Similar to Ralph, there are numerous reasonable solutions to sustainability and safety. However, individuals continue to place more importance on their desires. Consequently, resulting in the loss of innocence as these selfish desires can be deviant and subsequently cause a lot of harm, not only to nature but to ourselves and others in society. Thus, the novel Lord of the Flies is relevant in today’s society for the aforementioned concerns remain heavily discussed topics in the news, political discussions and debates across the world.

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