CliffsNotes on Golding's Lord of the Flies

CliffsNotes on Golding's Lord of the Flies

CliffsNotes on Golding's Lord of the Flies

CliffsNotes on Golding's Lord of the Flies


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CliffsNotes on Lord of the Flies takes you on an exploration of William Golding's novel to the dark side of humanity, the savagery that underlies even the most civilized human beings. Follow Golding's group of young boys from hope to disaster and watch as they attempt to survive their uncivilized, unsupervised, and isolated environment.

You can rely on CliffsNotes on Lord of the Flies for character analyses, insightful essays, and chapter-by-chapter commentaries to ensure your safe passage through the rich symbolism of this novel. Other features that help you study include

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As all authors use their life and times as reference points in their works, Golding drew heavily on the social-religious-cultural-military ethos of his times. Lord of the Flies is an allegorical microcosm of the world Golding knew and participated in. The island and the boys and many other objects and events in the work represent Golding’s view of the world and humankind in general and some characteristics or values found in British culture specifically.

Culture and Human Nature

Significant personal life experiences shaped the author and therefore his work. Golding spent two years as a science student at Oxford University before he aborted his pursuit of science for a degree in English literature, his first step toward a rejection of the scientific rationalism espoused by his father. Having joined the British Royal Navy when World War II began, Golding was involved in the invasion of Normandy on D-Day. After his military experience, Golding was a schoolteacher and, for 15 years, immersed himself in reading the Greek classics because, according to him, “this is where the meat is.” He felt that Greek drama had a great influence on his work; many scholars agree.

As a synthesis of Golding’s life experiences, Lord of the Flies investigates three key aspects of the human experience that form the basis of the themes the author wants to convey: (1) The desire for social and political order through parliaments, governments, and legislatures (represented by the platform and the conch). (2) The natural inclination toward evil and violence, manifested in every country’s need for a military (represented by the choir-boys-turned-hunters-turned-murderers and in the war going on in the world beyond the island); and (3) The belief in supernatural or divine intervention in human destiny (represented by the ceremonial dances and sacrifices intended to appease the “beast”).

By juxtaposing the evil, aggressive nature of the degenerating boys with the proper reserve and civility of the British persona that their cultural background implies, Golding places the boys in a series of life experiences that lead some (like Jack) deeper into their depraved psyche, and some (like Ralph), who recognize the inclination toward evil in themselves, to an epiphany of self-discovery. Such an epiphany is the only hope for humankind to escape from itself.

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