William Golding's novel "Lord of the Flies" not only provides a profound insight into human nature but also does so in a way that is remarkable for its use of shock and horror.
Golding presents aspects of human nature as themes in the book. It alerts us to our potential to descend from order to chaos, good to evil, civilization to savagery. They are explored through how innate evil can be brought out in certain situations, the dangers in not addressing our own fears and the battle between civilization and anarchy.
Most importantly, Golding achieved the above using metaphorical and didactic writing techniques that unquestionably shocked his readers - and still shocks them today. "Lord of the Flies" is essentially an allegory. It reveals how people can descend into barbarism in an atmosphere of chaos.
The main issues in the novel are that of the divide between civilization and savagery, the innate human evil, power and its consequences, and grouping.
The theme of the breakdown of civilization toward savagery emphasizes the struggle between the ruling elements of society which include law, morality, culture and the chaotic elements of humanity's savage instincts which include anarchy, bloodlust, amorality, selfishness and a desire for power.
The book implies that civilization is a veneer, which can be easily pierced to reveal the brutality of human nature. Golding's main representation of the conflict between civilization and savagery is through the characters in the novel. Ralph, the protagonist and Piggy are both symbols for morality and leadership, whilst the antagonist, Jack and his right hand man Roger are symbols for the desire for power, selfishness and amorality. Jack cannot at first bring himself to kill a pig because of "the enormity of the knife descending and cutting into living flesh; because of the unbearable blood." This shows the boys' innocence at the beginning of their experience.
Another example of this is where Roger feels the urge to torment a "Littlun" but is held back by the social values which he used to follow "Roger gathered a handful of stones and began to throw them. Yet there was a space round Henry, perhaps six yards in diameter, into which he dare not throw. Here, invisible yet strong, was the taboo of the old life. Round the squatting child was the protection of parents and school and policemen and the law." This happens earlier in the novel when the boys are still governed by their morals from their "good" society.
The novel illustrates the descent from the boys' utopian society into a primitive tribal culture of conflict which soon becomes a dystopia. This quick fall from law and order stuns the reader into self-realization of the human condition.
From the first mention of the Beast, to when Ralph is running for his life from Jack's tribe, fear is a major preoccupation of "Lord of the Flies." Just as fear in world history has been the cause of violence and destruction; it is the force...