Lord of the Flies Book Review


Lord of the Flies Book Review

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Lord of the Flies Book Review Free Sample

Lord of the Flies is more than an adventure story or allegory because of this very insistence upon "odd" objects. By placing his boys upon a mysterious island -- where is it? -- Golding forces them to explore the landscape. Earth, air, fire, water -- these shape and hold the meanings of existence.

The four elements -- the four boys. How convenient it would be if Golding were to equate them! Piggy and fire? Jack and earth? Simon and air? Ralph and water? But we feel cheated. There is no one element for each boy because Golding realizes that even "primitive life" remains mysterious. There is no doubt, however, that just as the Elizabethans employed the four humours -- based on the four elements -- he associates personality and element. This association is more lasting than the incantation of old names. The four boys constantly touch the elements, whether or not they realize they do. Because they are bound to different elements (in different combinations) they battle one another. And they torment themselves in their desire to rule (or be ruled by) only one element.

Throughout the novel Golding refers to the illusive quality of the island. Simon, for example, sees "a pearly stillness, so that what was real seemed illusive and without definition." Piggy peers "anxiously into the luminous veil that hung between him and the world." Jack peers "into what to him was almost complete darkness" when he first arrives on the beach. Because the elements are shadowy and ambiguous (and threatening?), they defy the vision of all the boys, including Simon and Piggy. Thus we have a completely ironic situation. The boys are forced to return to the elements -- to exist "originally" -- but they are so deceived by magical qualities that they cannot clearly judge their experience. Although many critics have complained about the gimmick at the end of the novel -- the boys are saved; the officer doesn't "understand" the violence which has occurred -- it is justified because it is another "appearance." The officer allows his "eyes to rest on the trim cruiser in the distance," but we doubt that he can see it or the water with full knowledge.

Lord of the Flies is therefore a novel of faulty vision. Can the boys ever see the elements? Are the elements really there? Is a marriage between elements and consciousness possible? The novel is not about Evil, Innocence, or Free Will; it goes beyond (or under) these abstractions by questioning the very ability to formulate them.

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