Jonathan's Reviews > Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
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I remain convinced to this day that The Lord of the Flies as a controversial classic is one of those books that depends upon how you read it. I think that at the surface it appears to be a text which is simple and a little dull. When I read it back in 2007 or so I found it incredibly dull. The richness and life I saw in other classics were not apparent. However now that I think back and reflect upon this novel I see it as a grand story, one that extends beyond whatever the perversities of the author may have been.

On the surface it could be read as a simple moralistic tale - a portrayal of what happens when you take people away from society. However I view the book differently. I don't think of it as a portrayal of what happens when individuals are separated from society. I think it is a portrayal of what exists deep down within societies and the propensity towards evil. My particular world view sees the world is both simple and complex (a mix of wonder and logic if you will). People are both good and evil mixed together, by which I mean people are, in my view, as capable of good as they are of evil (at least our human vision of good and evil). To sum down humanity into science, chemicals and hormones is something I disagree with and I'm certain many scientific theories exist about whether such things like Lord of the Flies could ever happen. I have no doubt that they could because the mind is such a complex device, a mortal engine that with the right conditioning could snap. I believe however that people don't want to think about it and don't want to reflect on what perhaps they could be capable of.

My favourite way to read and think about Lord of the Flies is as allegory. The boys representing 'sinful' man, that particular mixture of good and evil (which I perceive as more subtle than we realise - if we were to look at the world from a more eternal perspective would it not be a simple 'evil' even to ignore the homeless person asking for food? Perhaps we commit a lot more evil than we realise, even if it is out of ignorance.) And the ending of the book of course in a Christian sense represents the return of true order.

Lord of the Flies is an impossible book to rate from the point of view of enjoyment. There is simply little within it to enjoy. There is however hidden depth and meaning that create a dilemma for the reviewer. Despite me being unable to like the plot I can appreciate the brilliance of how Golding explores the reality of the darkness of men's hearts. And how he subtly alludes to the Christ story through his dark themes reveals his incredible insight. Therefore despite finding the tale itself gruesome I must give this novel five stars for its ability to unnerve and evoke questions of what is the true darkness behind men. Are we really all simply captives of the Lord of the Flies awaiting a saving sailor?
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Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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Cecily I agree that it's not the sort of book where stars can relate to enjoyment.

Regarding "how he subtly alludes to the Christ story through his dark themes", I believe that is partly down to the editors, who made him tone it down so it was less overtly preachy. I thought I read it in The Guardian, but can't find it on their site; if I find it anywhere else, I'll let you know.


Jonathan Certainly. Though that doesn't surprise me. Yet still I've realised that 'preachy' as a label tends to be highly subjective.


Cecily Jonathan wrote: "...I've realised that 'preachy' as a label tends to be highly subjective."

True, and often pejorative as well. Casting that word aside, perhaps it would be more accurate to say he was asked or advised to make the religious themes more subtle.


message 4: by Frances (last edited Feb 27, 2013 12:53PM) (new)

Frances Nice review Jonathan. Regarding your comment "depends upon how you read it", we see the obvious symbolism only when the time is right. We must be mature enough to understand the implications of the "good/evil" power struggle. I remember reading The Red Badge of Courage when I was 14. I read it again years later, and it became one of my favorite books.

Have you read White Squall - Last Voyage of Albatross?


Jonathan Frances wrote: "Nice review Jonathan. Regarding your comment "depends upon how you read it", we see the obvious symbolism only when the time is right. We must be mature enough to understand the implications of the..."

I only saw your comment now and no I haven't I shall have a look. I have had several books which I see the symbolism only now: for instance, The Wizard of Oz I intend to re-read because of the symbolic elements...


message 6: by Frances (new)

Frances Jonathan wrote: "Frances wrote: "Nice review Jonathan.."

I still keep my wide-eyed innocence when I read. I don't look for a headache trying to figure out what the writer wants me to "see", but I will re-read a book that speaks to me because I'm sure I probably missed something. 8)


Jonathan Frances wrote: "Jonathan wrote: "Frances wrote: "Nice review Jonathan.."

I still keep my wide-eyed innocence when I read. I don't look for a headache trying to figure out what the writer wants me to "see", but I ..."


I try the same thing but something always stands out to me in books. I can't help it... It reminds me of what I heard yesterday from my lit lecturer on poetry, that most theorists think poetry is complex. I however have always found it the simplest form of language, pure and uncomplicated by structure or overly complicated rules. I try and treat all books like poems, reading and trying to see what the author has to say but not trying to read an idea into a book that may not be there. Although I inevitably will...


message 8: by Frances (new)

Frances I agree about poetry. It speaks. Simply. Like you said, we choose to SEE, what we read at different times in our lives. We read what we see, and then we see what we read. We grow into books, like shoes.


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