Lord of the Flies
William Golding was born in 1911 in Cornwall. His father wanted him to become a scientist, but William developed a great interest in literature, especially poetry. After graduating from Oxford, he worked as a teacher. Later on, this will serve as a basis for writing Lord of the Flies. When the World War II started, he joined the Royal Navy; afterwards, he resumed teaching and started to write novels. His first novel was Lord of the Flies which made him world-famous.
Lord of the Flies was written in 1954 shortly after the end of the World War II. It was greatly influenced by the events of the war. It is also to be emphasized that his work as a teacher also played a role in the creation of Lord of the Flies. This experience was an inspiration to writing a novel. According to the plot, the group of English children found themselves on the deserted island after the plane crashed and tried to create their own society. Free from the rules and adults, the boys could do everything they wanted. Some of them united and worked together, the others rebelled. The behavior of the boys portrays the wild instincts of the humanity. This small world on the island is the reflection of the real state of affairs during the war.
The key point of the Lord of the Flies is the violence of these children which greatly impresses. That is why the book has become a best-seller. It was something newly re-discovered by Golding. The main factor under the influence of which Goldwin wrote his book was the war and his experience in it.
In one of his interviews, the author was asked if he had changed his attitude towards the people after having experienced the war. He answered that before the war, he had rather idealistic view of the people in general. He thought that people had been perfect but, as it turned out during the war, he was wrong. He did not talk about one man killing another with the gun but about the rudeness with which people did it, and how quick they turned into violent, brutal creatures. The change of author's opinion about humanity is reflected in the following passage:"I must say that anyone who moved through those years without understanding that man produces evil as a bee produces honey, must have been blind or wrong in the head" (Bloom, 2004).
The plot is an analog of the course of events during the World War II and Golding's vision of society after it. The protagonists of the novel are compared to the outside world showing the disguising nature of humanity (McClean). The author believed the man shows his dark side only after having faced a difficult situation.
The novel has been influenced by the Cold War conflict, as well. It occurred in the period between liberal democracy and totalitarian communism (Crawford, 2002). The main characters – Ralph, a twelve-year-old leader, and Jack, a hunter, are depicted as democracy and communism accordingly. It has to be noticed that Jack is portrayed as a totally negative character or even as anti-democratic force. By doing this, Golding showed support for the Western position in the Cold War.
Golding also drew a parallel with the atom bombing during the World War II. The boys in the Lord of the Flies have been evacuated from their native setting as the young men and women had been sent out of the country when the Germans bombed them. This was done in order to prevent the generation from dying. Golding never mentioned in the Lord of the Flies the reason why boys were in the plane, but they arrived on the island after the bombing; that is why it is clear that the novel takes place right after the end of World War II.
After the war, Golding started considering the world as an unstable and brutal place. He totally changed his worldview regarding human nature and reflected such outlook in the novel. At the beginning of Lord of the Flies, the boys acted well, but till the end of the book, their behavior and attitude totally changed. The contrast between the beginning and the end is severe. The same concerns the people in the war. They changed in a very short period of time. After starting to kill, the boys in the novel became thoughtless wild animals. After the war, the author did not believe in sincerity and loyalty of people, especially when something went wrong.
It has to be mentioned that Golding explained his choice of the fable by an overwhelming desire to contrast the optimism of the nineteenth century, which was portrayed in The Coral Island. This is another famous story about boys on the island written in 1858 by Ballantyne. The story is idealized; that is why Golding decided to write a realistic alternative to it. It was mentioned in the Golding's novel. In the end of Lord of the Flies, when Ralph explains to shocked by their behavior officer who rescued the boys that at the beginning everything went well, the officer compared their adventure to The Coral Island.
The novel is considered to be a science fiction, because boys were stranded on an island by themselves. Golding had some knowledge of science as his parents insisted on his study of natural sciences, and he applied it to the plot of the novel. The boys on the island were discovering the fire and crafted tools; they created their own political and social system. These issues have been extremely interesting for the Western society of that period of time.
After World War Second, novel was the dominant genre in the literature. The authors had a tendency to portray the post-war world without any exaggerations or adornments. Golding created his Lord of the Flies with realistic accent as well. It has become notable for the symbolic treatment of human personality.
Thus, there are a variety of reasons that led the author to write his best-seller. The key point is his personal change of opinion about people after the World War II. Despite the fact that he was a teacher which makes me think that he had to love people, especially children, he decided to show the brutality of human nature, and children served as an example of it. Children were the raw material of his novel. He showed the way they turned into unthinking and absolutely cruel evil brutes. His past experience made him think that people are born with evil tendencies and do not show them until something starts going wrong in their lives. He proved his opinion in the Lord of the Flies. He also believed that the future of society will be almost the same as he had pictured in his novel. Totally disillusioned by the human nature, Golding did not consider them good anymore.