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Lord of the Flies: Home

This guide contains resources related to the text 'Lord of the Flies' written by William Golding.

Historical Context

Golding’s experience in World War II had a profound effect on his view of humanity and the evils of which it was capable. After the war, Golding resumed teaching and started to write novels.

Readers and critics have interpreted Lord of the Flies in widely varying ways over the years since its publication. During the 1950s and 1960s, many readings of the novel claimed that Lord of the Fliesdramatizes the history of civilization. Some believed that the novel explores fundamental religious issues, such as original sin and the nature of good and evil. Others approached Lord of the Flies through the theories of the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, who taught that the human mind was the site of a constant battle among different impulses—the id (instinctual needs and desires), the ego (the conscious, rational mind), and the superego (the sense of conscience and morality). Still others maintained that Golding wrote the novel as a criticism of the political and social institutions of the West. Ultimately, there is some validity to each of these different readings and interpretations of Lord of the Flies. Although Golding’s story is confined to the microcosm of a group of boys, it resounds with implications far beyond the bounds of the small island and explores problems and questions universal to the human experience.

SparkNotes.com, 2016.

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Background

When a plane crashes on a remote island, a small group of schoolboys are the sole survivors. From the prophetic Simon and virtuous Ralph to the lovable Piggy and brutish Jack, each of the boys attempts to establish control as the reality - and brutal savagery - of their situation sets in.

The boys' struggle to find a way of existing in a community with no fixed boundaries invites readers to evaluate the concepts involved in social and political constructs and moral frameworks. Ideas of community, leadership, and the rule of law are called into question as the reader has to consider who has a right to power, why, and what the consequences of the acquisition of power may be. Often compared to Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies also represents a coming-of-age story of innocence lost.

Goodreads, 2016.

The Films

Rating: M   Year: 1990   Duration: 1:26:34

After a plane crash in the ocean, a group of military students reach an island. Ralph organizes the boys, assigning responsibilities for each one. When the rebel Jack Merridew neglects the fire camp and they lose the chance to be seen by a helicopter, the group split under the leadership of Jack. While Ralph rationalizes the procedures, Jack returns to the primitivism, using the fear for the unknown (in a metaphor to the religion) to control the other boys, and hunting and chasing pigs, stealing the possession of Ralph's group and even killing people.

Rating: PG   Year: 1963   Duration: 1:30:00

Based on William Golding's classic novel, Lord of the Flies is a disturbing tale of conflict and savagery. A plane carrying a group of schoolboys crashes on a remote tropical island. No adults survive but forty boys emerge unhurt. Under their elected leader, Ralph (James Aubrey), the boys try to preserve their social discipline and survive, but Jack (Tom Chaplin), the head of a group of choirboys, starts a battle for leadership and the boys divide into two rival groups. Jack's gang - the Hunters - become progressively more savage. The more primitive they become the more they terrorise Ralph's gang - with tragic consequences.

William Golding

(1911–1993)

The British novelist William Golding won the Nobel prize for literature in 1983 for his novels dealing with the human condition. His first book, Lord of the Flies, attracted a cult of followers, especially among the youth of the post–World War II generation.

Golding published Lord of the Flies in 1954 (film, 1963 and 1990). The story portrays a group of schoolboys isolated on a coral island who gradually abandon all moral constraints and revert to savagery, including ritualistic murder. The novel reflected Golding’s belief that “man produces evil as a bee produces honey.” It reportedly was rejected by 21 publishers before it finally appeared to lukewarm reviews. A paperback edition released in the United States in 1959, however, achieved cult popularity and a financial success that allowed Golding to quit teaching in 1961.

William Golding 2016. Britannica School. 

Golding, William [Image]. Encyclopædia Britannica. 

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