“The greatest ideas are the simplest.”
-William Golding, Lord of the Flies
The review title speaks for itself. Lord of the Flies is simply the most symbolically rich novel ever written. Each element — whether a character, object, or phenomenon — has an allegorical meaning. However, among all this, the main theme isn’t lost — if anything, Golding crafted the symbolism to give the theme a deeper significance. Albeit Lord of the Flies seems like a Robinson Crusoe-inspired story of wreckage and surivival (no, this book is NOT about flies), it has a very powerful, yet intuitive, allegorical theme. This theme has caused Golding’s magnum opus to be labeled a political treatise, a myth, and even a parody. As a result, Lord of the Flies has become a classic in English literature — an opus that deserves to be read, regardless if one likes it or not, for its theme will truly resonate within anybody.
The story centers around a group of ordinary schoolboys who become marooned on a coral island as the result of a plane crash. Upon realizing that there are no adults, the boys are initially joyous that they have the freedom to do anything they want. Thus, they attempt to found a civilization to ensue order and methodical conduct, succumbing, nevertheless, to savagery, terror, and evil. Gone is the initial thrill of unlimited freedom and no adult supervision. In its place stands the concern of being rescued — the possibility of returning home to a more organized society.
In Lord of the Flies, Golding powerfully crafts an allegory of civilization versus savagery, good versus bad, and order versus anarchy under the broader umbrella of human nature. In other words, Golding shows that humans desire to live by rules and be civilized and tamed, while they simultaneously possess an appetite for power and authority. Golding uses two characters, Jack and Ralph, to symbolize this allegory. Ralph symbolizes order and civilization, for he wants to do everything in a methodical manner as per the moral code he was raised in accordance with. This includes having organized meetings, building huts, and creating smoke signals for rescue. On the contrary, Jack represents savagery and anarchy, for he wants to eat meat and live a carefree life. This manifests when he decides to start his own tribe of painted savages where they live without rules, destroy smoke signals, and eat meat to their heart’s content. The novel’s climax occurs when Ralph’s civilization succumbs to Jack’s savagery — all among the doubtful possibility of returning home.
I would recommend this book to people who like allegories, British literature, or adventure stories.