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themes in Lord of the Flies
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Descriptionthemes in Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Flies
Good and Evil
The battle between good and evil is a central theme.
The conch group, who represent democracy and order vs’s the savages
The boys vs’s the beast.
The conch provides a symbol of the decency and order of the society.
With Ralph’s benign government, good is always dominant.
When Jack forms his own ‘tribe’, evil takes control.
Ralph, representing the forces of good, is paralysed by indecision and has no effective response.
Jack’s tribe grows and his malevolence with it – Piggy’s glasses stolen, Sam and Eric captured, Piggy slain.
Only the naval officer’s intervention prevents the complete triumph of evil over good.
Golding is giving us a warning about the power of evil that if the good in people is not fostered then evil will take its place. The human urge to destroy will be unleashed and in the modern age there seems to be no limits to the harm this can do. It is a cautionary tale telling us to change before it is too late.
Law and Order
The boys have come from a society in which orderliness is the norm and they attempt to continue this when they first arrive on the island.
Very quickly the conch comes to symbolise the values of this previous existence, so Piggy, who represents intelligent thought and order, clings to it.
The other symbol associated with Piggy, his glasses, expose a different side to law and order on the island. Used with his permission, they also start the fires that are essential to both rescue and hygienically cooked food. Jack refuses to respect Piggy’s right to the glasses, first punching him and breaking a lense (a symbol of the breaking of the boys into two groups – one group with vision and foresight and one side blinded by power , fear and hate), then stealing them to start fires. In doing so he challenges law and order and Ralph’s rule, which has kept life on the island reasonable.
When the boys no longer accept law and order Ralph is powerless and the darker, evil forces take over.
William Golding was a teacher for nine years before he wrote ‘Lord of the Flies’. This was a time when discipline in schools was very strong. He was unhappy with this.
The island is like a laboratory in which Golding can analyse the tensions that exist between school boys. By removing the adults, he sets free their impulses and desires. He allows them to run their full course.
So Jack, probably an arrogant bully at school, becomes first a wrecker of Ralph and Piggy’s plans, then a dictator and finally a murderer.
Piggy, on the other hand, is a victim of bullying, eventually being killed.
Piggy and Ralph’s self-discipline result in positive achievements early in the ...
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