Themes and message

William Golding’s Lord of the Flies is deeply symbolic, exploring themes such as power, good versus evil, and groupthink. These themes touch on fundamental human concerns. Golding approaches these broad and complex ideas through the microcosm of the island, where the society established by the stranded boys acts as a miniature version of adult society in real life. 


The question of who should have power – and how it should be used – is central to Lord of the Flies. Ralph and Jack are models of two different ways of achieving and holding power. Ralph’s authority is established early in the novel: 

What intelligence had been shown was traceable to Piggy while the most obvious leader was Jack. But there was a stillness about Ralph as he sat that marked him out: there was his size, and attractive appearance, and most obscurely, yet most powerfully, there was the conch. The being that had blown that, had sat waiting for them on the platform with the delicate thing balanced on his knees, was set apart. (p. 19)

However, Jack makes it clear from the beginning that he thinks he should be the leader: “ ‘I ought to be chief,’ said Jack with simple arrogance, ‘because I’m chapter chorister and head boy. I can sing C sharp.’ ” (p. 18)

Ralph represents de...

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