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What Has Lord of the Flies To Say About Civilisation and Human Behaviour?

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Introduction

What has Lord of the Flies to say about Civilisation and Human Behaviour? Do you agree with Authors point of view? Lord of the Flies appears to be simply a story about how a group of marooned school boys follow their daily lives on a Pacific island. The story is used to demonstrate the author's theory about the basic egotistic and selfishness of the human being. William Golding, the author of the novel, was 43 years old when Lord of the Flies was first published in 1954. This was a time of great uncertainty and political discontent and he would have been heavily influenced by his experiences in World War II. Golding takes a very pessimistic veiw of humanity throughout the novel, believing that humans are based upon pure evil. When the schoolboys first arrive on the island, they immediately look for a way to maintain law and order since there are no grown-ups. Civilisation cannot be an individual thing and therefore the boys want to belong to a group with social responsibility, with a leader.

Middle

Jack calls Roger away to watch him paint his face, as an important sign of the loss of civilisation and the change to savagery. Jack's painted mask represents a shield or cover which he can hide behind and frees him from all social responsibility. Jack says to Roger whilst painting his face: "For hunting. Like in the war. You know dazzle-paint." (Chapter Four, p68). He compares his face paint to war camouflage, illustrating that being on a desert island is a war for him. Death is a fundamental theme of the novel, both in its accidental form and violent form. The death of the mulberry-marked boy results from irresponsible actions by the other boys. His death signifies a weakening of the social structure and civilisation of the island and promises evil in the future. Death itself is uncivilised because there is no dignity in death. It is a frequent aspect of the book and a regular reminder of how easy it is to move from a civilised existence to a completly different state and how suddenly it can happen.

Conclusion

Ralph says immediately recalling how he needed - in the civilised world - to speak to a grown up. As I have mentioned earlier, this book was first published in 1954, when Golding was 43 years old. He would have thought about it, planned it and written it over a period of worldwide confusion and war. He was bound to have a gloomy view of life. I think his vision of human nature and behaviour is too pessimistic. Golding was surrounded by tragic events, and I think his ideas were firmly influenced by some form of religious teaching that made him believe we are all born evil and it is only through the 'laws' of Christianity and society are we temporarily 'saved'. Whilst I agree with the novels veiwpoint that civilisation is a society with a thin veneer which can be easily broken down when circumstances are difficult, I believe that we are divided between those who are 'good' and those who are 'less good', but the number of people who are born evil is very few indeed. I have a much more optimistic view on civilisation compared to Golding - perhaps influenced by the greater freedom of todays society and the absence of any personal experience of conflict.

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