“We did everything adults would do. What went wrong?”
― William Golding, Lord of the Flies
One of the most renowned philosophical books of all time, “Lord of the Flies” has been constantly reminding the society of the undeniable darker nature of mankind since the moment students step foot into the education of junior high; millions of teenagers loathe the book, but millions of people have been taught a valuable lesson by Golding through his perception of the society that we all live in. To avoid spoilers (because the story development of every book is as crucial as the lessons it can give us), there will not be any indication of the character development in specific as well as other points in relation with revealing the progression of the plot in this review.
“Lord of the Flies” is about a group of stranded English schoolboys from various ages on an uninhabited island during the middle of the world war, and they actually have to survive without any kind of adult supervision, forming their own little society and governing system to ensure a proper morality and order. The story centers around Ralph, a boy who becomes the figure of leadership for the younger ones; Piggy, the more knowledgeable boy; Simon, the silent boy with a surprising level of maturity, and Jack, the one in charge of the hunts. Things, however, start to go downhill for order given the passage of time, and the boys are struggling to face the supposed savage evil lurking throughout the island and ultimately, the darkness within themselves.
Judging from the perspective of someone who actually flips the first few pages of the book in hope of discovering an awesome tale filled with fantasy, where the boys discover menacing beasts and try to survive, “Lord of the Flies” is nowhere near satisfying, because it is not meant to be a thrilling book of a generic adventure with a number of schoolboys in the middle of nowhere. There are no narrow escapes from dinosaurs or lions and such, and if people actually purchase the book for that sole purpose, they are in for a disappointment. On the other hand, for those who actually want a quality read brimming with the somehow accurate depiction of the society, they have just found a literary jewel through “Lord of the Flies”.
Granted, it MAY not be a fun read for some groups (otherwise, it wouldn’t have to be made a compulsory read for high school students in some parts of the globe), but it is made compulsory for a reason; despite that it may not be able to please everyone, it can, however, teach everyone concerning the nature of the society. Rather than actually persuading the readers to become the individuals that prioritize order, “Lord of the Flies” simply gives the portrayal of the dominant forces within the society: morality, power, goodwill, and rationality, along with the struggles and the growth of those respective inherent aspects of civilization, and it is up to the readers to ponder about it; does the current society fits Golding’s portrayal? Which part of the society am I in? Am I doing the right thing? those questions are not exactly answered in the book, but they are simply being roused from the subconsciousness of the readers; shaping, or at the very least, affecting their thoughts concerning the world in which they are living in.
The book contains a straightforward plot of survival, but it is rich with various symbolism. The characters are meant to be the representations of the forces along with the communities in most civilizations, and the actions as well as thoughts produced by these characters are Golding’s illustrations about how do those representations develop and operate; they are all interconnected with one another, and they affect one another, triggering progression and regression; even the inanimate objects in the book are symbolic. Read the book a few times, and it can be said that there are often new things to be analyzed each time the book is read, and there is even the possibility of different interpretations; the somehow multi-interpretative nature of the book opens up more opportunities for discussions not only about the book, the story, but also the society in real-life.
People may wonder, if there are so much things to be thought about, doesn’t it mean that the book is boring? Indeed, it can be boring for some people, but it is most likely boring for those who seeks a tale about pure adventures and courage. For those who are actually fine with reading a tale about survival without a sense of suspense from various creatures with sharp-teeth, “Lord of the Flies” is still able to provide you with some enjoyment even if there is not much attention paid to the philosophical aspects; thin shrouds of mysteries, annoyance, anguish, and sense of encouragements are still there in the book to give you a hopefully exciting ride across the island.
Still, for those who are anti-overly detailed descriptions of environments, the book may bore you to death at times; it literally took the book 20 lines to describe a cliff, a palm tree, and the sea with fish in it. If you are fine with that, though, it’s all good 😀
All in all, “Lord of the Flies” is entertaining, but not for all people. It is, however, a good book to be thought about for us all with its powerful, yet grim interpretation of our world and nature.
My Rating: 4/5
Have you read this? What do you think about it?