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Lord Of The Flies By William Golding: Two Opposing Impulses Of All Human Beings

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Lord of the Flies is a historical yet fictional novel written by Nobel Prize award-winning author William Golding. It is a symbolic novel that was inspired by and influenced by Golding's experiences as an active member of the Royal Navy during World War 2. The replica film directed by Harry Hook conveyed similar themes and key conceptions. Lord of the Flies is presented from the perspective of a group of British schoolboys being evacuated from their homes because of war, yet, they end up isolated on an island with no adult supervision having to fend for themselves.

Lord of the Flies' central concern is between two opposing impulses that are owned among all human beings. The driven instinct is to live by the rules, follow the inner compass, act peacefully, and hold value for the good of the community rather than one's self. Or the urge to follow one's emotions and to act rashly against them, to always opt towards violence for every conflict, to abuse one's power, and do not think critically about choices that could potentially affect the future. All these factors are portrayed in the book and film through the behaviors of the characters. This can be expressed as civilization vs savagery, order vs chaos, law vs anarchy, and in the more extensive light good vs evil. This is all based on the audience's thoughts and opinion, however, throughout the book, Golding does associate the instinct of rules and order with good and savagery and violence with evil. Whilst in the movie it was represented as more of a balanced way of thinking as the boys all reacted to the conditions thrown at them differently. Through the book and the film, the two prominent themes were depicted with Ralph being the one to lead the boys through methodical rules and well-organized routines. Whilst Jake led the boys to act upon their fear of the beast and for the satisfaction of their desires. Going beyond the limits of law and order, when reaching different levels of brutality, even though they were accustomed and taught to behave civilized back at home with authoritative adults such as parents and teachers. Golding portrays his thoughts through stereotypical and symbolic characters such as the short, unattractive overweight Piggy compared to Ralph and Jack's charming and attractive appearance. This also shows how society is quick to judge people's power and wisdom based on their physical appearance. At the beginning of the book and the film, it is clear that all the boys want to commence with civilization, possibly because they were taught to behave appropriately from before. They assign a leader, rules and everyone has a special job, much like the way our government and economy run. However, throughout the novel, Jack turns to the 'evil' side and his actions are purely out of wild impulse and result in destructive ways. This shows that the instincts of savagery were chosen more in this context than civilization.

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Power and authority are other main components of Lord of the Flies, it highlights the difference between the weak-minded ones and the strong-willed ones. This theme explores a lot more than the power shown in the book and film, it symbolizes the stereotypes of our societies and how people are judged based entirely on their appearance. Throughout the book, there are many times where leadership is shown through many of the characters, however, in the film the main two leadership roles are given to Ralph and Jack. This is evident in the way, the boys respect them and listen to their ideas, it is also shown in the way they behave. This is all emphasized with the screenplay, varying from the change in music when the boys talk to the authoritative tone they held when speaking. However in the book, through descriptive and distinct word use, golding portrayed that the boys showed leadership in many areas. 'I ought to be chief...because I'm chapter chorister and head boy. I can sing C sharp.' Power is a complex concept and very hard to grasp yet with little schoolboys it can easily be manipulated and taken advantage of. Jack attempts to claim the role of the leader purely based on subjective requirements. However, due to Piggy’s critical vote for Ralph, Jack fails to be elected leader, but is sanctioned to maintain full power over his choir. While Jack does have basic leadership skills, he is surpassed by Ralph’s charm and passion to develop a set of civilized rules for the boys. This shows that Jack gains power and authority through cruel intentions, whilst Ralph seems genuine and wants a civilized and less vicious system running.

Whilst the book grasps the wild, the evil, and the cruel ways of the boys, in the end, they are schoolboys who have never had to face situations and conditions such as those. Their reaction to this just shows that if humans were ever to be put in a similar circumstance, would we go rogue? William Golding and Harry Hook both demonstrated that the boys had been led by their emotions and made difficult choices. Even though Ralph's leadership had been negotiated many of the boys chose to follow Jacks' policy and resulted in supporting his points and ideas.

The book conveys vital themes that are prominent in society/ it takes into consideration humanity, purity, morals, human nature, civilization, and power. The unique way the scenes have been captured along with the writers' craft and descriptive language shows how Lord of the Flies questions the readers to ponder every situation and every conflict in the text. It grasps the attention of the audience through those techniques to help understand the tremendously complex theories that run through the book. From the disappeared innocence of the youth, the wild and destructive habits and the savagery conducted by a group of schoolboys truly gave readers and viewers an idea of difficult themes and conceptions.

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Lord Of The Flies By William Golding: Two Opposing Impulses Of All Human Beings. (2021, August 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 23, 2024, from
“Lord Of The Flies By William Golding: Two Opposing Impulses Of All Human Beings.” Edubirdie, 09 Aug. 2021,
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Lord Of The Flies By William Golding: Two Opposing Impulses Of All Human Beings [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Aug 09 [cited 2024 Feb 23]. Available from:
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