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What Went Wrong?: In-Depth Lord of The Flies Analysis.

Updated on February 3, 2018

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How were you introduced to 'Lord of The Flies"?

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Thesis: What is William G.'s message?

Imagine if the world was run by kids. No organization. No teamwork. No prioritization of what is necessary for survival. It would be hell on earth. Adults run the world for a reason. To prevent destruction and chaos, and instead keep order and civilization.

In the book “Lord of the Flies”, William Golding portrays this exact message, by showing how a group of young British boys stray to the path of savagery after being stranded on an island with no adults. However, after analyzing “Lord of the Flies” through a different lens, we realize that Golding is in fact trying to portray the complete opposite. How it is the adult world that is full of corruption, lies, and conflict.

Piggy, a symbol of morality in the book, stated: “We did everything adults would do.What went wrong?” William Golding uses this quote to show how the adult world is not what it seems to be, how people blindly follow those with power, and how political differences and democracy result in conflict.

The great man who wrote this masterpiece:

Symbolism: The World Isn't What It Seems To Be...

There are a plethora of symbols in “Lord of the Flies”, one of which is the island. This is a very crucial symbol to understand. The island is a scaled down representation of the real world. This means, that Golding was relating all that happened on the island to the things that happen in the real society. How does this relate to the corruption in the adult world? In chapter five, Ralph asked for a sign from the world of grown ups, which he had received in chapter six, the book stated: “But a sign came down from the world of grownups, though at the time there was no child awake to read it.”

The sign was a dead parachuter that had fallen out of his plane and got tangled in the creepers on the island. The parachuter was a grown up. A grown up who was in the middle of a war, much like the war taking place between the boys, but on a larger scale. Not only was the grown up taking part in a war, the grown up was also killed. Killed by another grown up. Killed because he was born and raised in different borders. Ralph and Piggy look up to the grown ups, thinking that the they are perfect, and keep society from falling into chaos.

William Golding uses the parachuter to show us his message. To show that Ralph and Piggy's mentality are wrong. The message that the Adult world is not as perfect as we think. That with age doesn't always come wisdom, but greed, hate, and hardheartedness.

Don't have the book? Well what are you waiting for!

Corrupt Leaders: Jack's faultiness analyzed

Corrupt leaders are like viruses, spreading their hate and evil throughout the world. Using propaganda, they get people to believe what they want, to believe who is the good guy, and who is the bad one. This is what causes war. People blindly following these corrupt leaders, accepting the propaganda that they are shown.

Jack is a great example of a corrupt leader in “Lord of the Flies”. Jack had a leadership role before all the boys were ever on the island, with the position as the head of the choir. When the boys got on the island and voted Ralph to be the leader, he was humiliated, as he was demoted from his chief position. However, Ralph gave him power and authority over the choir as hunters, which meant he regained some of his leadership. As time progressed, Jack began to realize that Ralph had complete authority over everyone, including Jack and his hunters.

This realization was affecting Jack, as he was once in a position of full authority over the his choir, with the exception of the overruling of the grown ups. However, being overruled by Ralph, just another kid, didn’t feel right to Jack. This resulted in Jack questioning Ralph’s authority and power over the boys multiple times throughout the book: “‘Hands up,’ said Jack strongly, ‘Whoever wants Ralph not to be chief?’” (Chapter 8 pg.139)

The lack of adults on the island plays a key part in Jacks thirst for power. When he was the chief of the choir, he only had power to a certain extent, after which the grown ups held the rest of the authority. Once Jack realized that there was no one with the authority level of the adults besides Ralph, he wanted to overthrow him. The thought of absolute power and rule to Jack made him relentless in his efforts to become leader.

This is when Jack began to use the beast to his advantage. He made himself look strong in front of the boys, hunting pigs, and showing no fear of the beast. He hyped the boys up, offered them protection from the beast, and gave them meat, all just to make them join his tribe and make him leader. “ ‘I gave you food,’ said Jack, ‘and my hunters will protect you from the beast. Who will join my tribe?’” (Chapter 9 pg. 166)

The boys began to blindly follow Jack, as they irrationally feared the beast, which no one had ever seen, nor proved to exist. They followed him because he had feasts and dances, which Ralph did not have. They boys were not able to see that what Ralph was doing was for the better of the boys, and that all Jack wanted was power. The only ones who recognized this were Piggy, and Sam'n'eric. Piggy said to the boys in Jack's tribe: “‘Which is better - to be a pack of painted Indians like you are, or to be sensible like Ralph is. Which is better - to have laws and agree, or to hunt and kill?’” (Chapter 11 pg. 164)

This shows that instead of blindly following the rest of the boys to Jack's tribe, Piggy understands that Jack is a corrupt leader, not focused on betterment of the group. Piggy says in the book “‘We did everything adults would do. What went wrong?’” In the adult world, this is something that is not uncommon. Many people follow corrupt bodies of power which they believe to be magnificent leaders. Hitler is a great example of a corrupt leader. He used propaganda, and persuaded the people to dislike the Jews. He is known to be one of the most wicked people in history. Yet, his followers thought he was a hero. This is because of the propaganda that they are shown, which can be related back to what Jack was doing in terms of persuading the boys to join his tribe.

As mentioned before, the island is a small scale representation of what Golding sees happening in the real world, William Golding shows us how even grown ups blindly follow those who are corrupt.

What Would You Do?

If you were on the island with the boys, what would you do?

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Faulty Systems are Doomed to Fail

A fault may appear in a person. It may appear in product. But it is most dangerous when it appears in a system. In this case, a governing system. William Golding shows us how the governing system and political differences may lead to conflict. In the governing system which the boys were trying to recreate, one person was voted to have power and authority over everyone. This can lead to corrupt leadership, as absolute power corrupts absolutely.

That is what William Golding has portrayed in “Lord of the Flies”. When Jack gains control of the boys, he becomes completely savage: torturing those who won’t join his tribe, and going on a manhunt to kill Ralph, the former leader. He took full advantage of his power, freeing himself from the restrictions of civilization. Why? Because he could. Absolute power in the hands of any man is doomed to lead to destruction.

This can be related back to our world. The elite are able to do whatever they want because they have money, which is a symbol of power. We, the people can be seen as the boys on the island, creating conflict within ourselves and each other. We trust government and the elite to sort out the major problems and save us from destruction.

These major problems can be seen as the Beast. The government can be seen as the adults. We look up to them like the boys looked up to the adults, yet, little do we know, how corrupt the government really is. They use destruction to keep themselves in power, just like how Jacked used the fear of the beast to gain control.

Amazing entertaining summary of " Lord of The Flies" by Thug Notes.

Final Verdict

William Golding has instilled many messages in “The lord of the Flies” that can only be rendered when thoroughly analyzed.

The main messages is that corruption, savagery, and greed are the beasts that lie within the hearts of man. This beast is the cause to the corrupt world we live in, where people who we look up to aren’t really what they seem to be. A world in which people are just a flock of sheep, following whatever everyone else is following, even if it means the result of their own destruction. A world in which the system we live by is corrupt itself.

Piggy, who put his all his trust and hope forth in the grown ups, said: “‘We did everything adults would do. What went wrong?’” They did everything adults did. That’s what went wrong.

I loved the book, as there was a lot to analyze and break through!

How did you like "Lord of The Flies"?

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    • Smritirekha Sarma profile image

      Smritirekha Sarma Haloi 

      21 months ago from Bangalore, India

      I wish I could read this article during my undergrad days. But nonetheless better late than never. Brilliant writing and extraordinary analysis.

    • Jan Enterprise profile imageAUTHOR

      Ahmed Jan 

      2 years ago from Mississauga

      Thank you very much for your time in reading my article. I hope you enjoyed!

    • profile image

      Shafqat Mushtaq 

      2 years ago

      So much knowledge in this article! Yes, you are right, Golding has replicated real life vices from real society and reflected them back on the island life. I read it in University, was in the syllabus, so have fresh memories of it. At the same time you have to keep in mind that Golding has shown us how human tendencies go about expressing themselves if not altered by the norms, we as a society have set up.


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