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The Social, Cultural, And Historical Issues In Coral Island And Lord Of The Flies

1359 words - 5 pages

The Social, Cultural, and Historical Issues in Coral Island and Lord of the Flies

At first sight, ‘Coral Island’ seems an extremely pompous and arrogant
novel. This, however, is because the book is being read from a 21st
century perspective, whereas when Ballantyne wrote ‘Coral Island’ it
was seen as a thoroughly enjoyable story. This is because the book
was written in the 19th century, when the people of Britain felt that
they had developed an organised society where humans were at their
best and flourishing. As Ballantyne himself described the society:

‘Britons at the top of the tree, savages and pigs at the bottom.’

Looking at ‘Coral Island’ from a 20th century point of view, Golding
analysed the book very critically and decided that it was an out of
date, arrogant, false portrayal of society and that he could write a
better book. He sat down and wrote ‘Lord of the Flies’ to show the
problems of human nature. The island in the book was used just as a
place to put his group of boys away from the adult world, but also had
symbolic values linked closely to the theme of evil in man throughout
the novel:

‘The island itself is a symbol of perfection and paradise, and the
instant that humans arrive, a scar of destruction is left through the
once perfect forest. The island is also boat shaped, and looking out
at the waves at a point on the island gives the illusion that it is
moving backwards. This symbolises a journey in which man is always
moving on, but makes no progress in life.’

As well as being linked to Golding’s beliefs, the use of the island
also enabled direct comparisons with ‘Coral Island’. Golding hated
the tone and ideas of Ballantyne in ‘Coral Island’, and expressed his
thoughts publicly on many occasions:

‘I decided to take the literary convention of boys on an island, only
make them real boys instead of paper cut-outs with no life in them,
and try to show the shape of the society they evolved would be
conditioned by their diseased, their fallen nature.’

In ‘Coral Island’, the language and tone of the story is seen as
arrogant and humorous, as people in the modern society do not have the
same views as Ballantyne in the 19th Century. The boys lead very
noble, civilized lives and generally get on very well with each
other. There are no big arguments, everyone is on good terms with
everyone else and the boys live in ‘uninterrupted harmony and
happiness’ throughout the story. The boys in ‘Lord of the Flies’
arrive on the island with this attitude, which is shown when Jack
says: ‘we’re not savages. We’re English; and the English are best at
everything.’ This attitude, however, does not last. Golding’s boys
gradually deteriorate from being a party of well-behaved schoolboys to
the point that they become horrible murderous savages and try to
brutally murder each other just out of a pure hatred that started as a
small argument about who should be the ‘leader of the gang’. When a
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