A CRITICAL ANALYSIS ON WILLIAM GOLDING'S LORD OF THE FLIES.
When viewing the atrocities of today's world on television, the starving children, the wars, the injustices,one cannot help but think that evil is rampant in this day and age. People in society must be aware that evil is not an external force embodied in a society but resides within each person. Man has both good qualities and faults. He must come to control these faults in order to be a good person. In the novel Lord of the Flies, William Golding deals with this same evil which exists in all of his characters. With his mastery of such literary tool as structure, syntax, diction, point of view and presentation of character, Golding allows the reader to easily relate to his characters and explore the novel's main theme, that within a person there are forces of good and evil wich must be
Golding's novel has a "remarkably complete and solid structure"(Kinkead- Weekes and Gregor 15). With the exception of Ralf's dream, Golding' novel follows chronological order. It begins with the boys' arrival on the island. Through the chapters one to four, the tension rises between Jack and Ralf, the two leaders. The crisis is reached in chapter five, "Beast from Water", when Simon comes face to face with the personification of evil, The Lord of the Flies. The tension mounts continually as the story unfolds for "the structure and technique of Lord of the Flies is one of revelation" (Kinkead-Weekes and Gregor 22). The climax is reached shortly after the shattering of the conch and Piggy's death, when the boys attempt to kill Ralf. After this the story quickly comes to an end with the arrival of the naval officer. Thus the story follows the relatively common path of exposition, rising action, crisis, climax and falling action.
Golding's skilful use of syntax is also quite common. He uses long periodic sentences when describing of the peaceful coral island, shadowed with greens and purples, and shorter sentences when describing moments of violence or high tension. For example, for the first pig's death, the author uses dashes to create stress. During the sow's death, he uses medium length sentences, dissected by commas to form shorter phrases. Towards the end of the novel, when Ralf is chased, commas are again employed. Here, Golding makes use of his shortest sentences, even using sentence fragments. He also uses shorter paragraphs. This particular use of syntax creates much tension.
Golding also creates tension with the use of specific words. Many are connotative and therefore create a story abundant in meaning and symbolism. Golding uses colours such as pink to symbolize particular things such as innocence, piglets and the island. The word yellow makes the reader think of the sun, enlightenment and Ralf; the words black and red bring to mind evil, blood and Jack. With the use of words the author also creates the novel's own private symbols. The conch comes to symbolize authority, democracy and order. Upon the mentioning Piggy's glasses, images of insight and reason come to mind.
With this highly connotative language, Golding creates many contrasts. He compares the dazzling beach's "pink granite" (Golding 12), green feathered palm trees and endless sand (Golding 10) to the "darkness of the forest" (Golding 10) full of "broken trunks" (Golding 10), "cables of creepers" (Golding 28), and dense vegetation. He also compares the day's "torrid sun" (Golding 176) to the night which makes everything as "dim and strange as the bottom of the sea" (Golding 62). The lagoon's security and the dangerous open sea are also contrasted when Golding qualifies them as "still as a mountain lake" (Golding 10), "dark blue" (Golding 31) and "deep sea" (Golding 62). Golding also uses cacophonous words such as "dark", "Jack", "broken", "torrid", "coarse" and "splintered" to describe bad things and euphonious words such as "feathers", "glittering fish" and "Ralf" to describe more peaceful things. Although Golding's language is informal, perhaps even colloquial and at times "so reticent as to be almost self-effacing" (Moody 45), he is capable of carrying the reader to his pink coral island where he adeptly narrates the story of these little boys and their losing battle against evil.
The story is mainly told from a third person omniscient view. This allows the narrator to follow any of the boys anywhere. This unbiased and objective method also distances the reader as to allow him to judge the boys' actions. Towards the end of the novel, when Ralf is being hunted down by the other boys, the point of view occasionally slips to third person limited. As seen in the following passage, the narrator transmits Ralf's thoughts which are in third person:
"Break the line.\ A tree.\ Hide, and let them pass.\...\ Hide was better than a tree
because you had a chance of breaking the line if you were discovered.\ Hide, then."
This pulls the reader in and enables him to feel Ralf's fear, it also creates tension.
Another important part of Golding's technique as an author is character presentation. Golding does this first through simple descriptions and then describing the reader to observe the characters in action. Regarding the characters Golding creates, each represents one side of human nature. Ralf stands for common sense, Jack for power and love of destruction, Roger for the desire to torture, Piggy for intellectualism and maturity, Simon for piety and Samneric stand for the desire to please and crowd mentality. All these characteristics are part of human nature and must be controlled. Jack gains too much of a thirst for power; this proves dangerous. The same thing happens when Samneric try too much to please.
The element of control is a reoccurring motif in the novel. For example, the fire which can cook food, provide warmth and alert the passing ships can also become life- threatening when not controlled. Likewise, a person must learn to control himself or the evil which exist in all will surface and have detrimental effects.
"life on the island ... only imitate[s] the larger tragedy in which the adults of the
outside world attempt to govern themselves reasonably, and end[s] in the same
game of hunt and kill" (Baker 23).
In the novel, a loss of control occurs, the evil within emerges and many people are killed. Though his excellent use of form, sentence structure, diction, point of view and presentation of character William Golding makes the reader aware that "at every point, ... much more than this story is being told" (Kinkead-Weekes and Gregor 15) and that "a clearly focused and coherent body of meaning is crystallizing out of every episode" (Kinkead-Weekes and Gregor 15). Lord of the Flies enables the reader to comprehend that the "devil rises, not out of pirates and cannibals and such alien creatures, but out of the darkness of man's heart" (Hynes 16).
- Baker, James R. "Why It's No Go." Critical Essays on William Golding. Ed. James R. Baker.Boston: G.K. Hall & Co., 1988.
- Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. London: Faber and Faber, 1958.
- Hynes, Samuel. "William Golding's Lord of the Flies." Critical Essays on William Golding. Ed.James R. Baker. Boston: G.K. Hall & Co., 1988.
- Kinkead-Weekes, Mark, and Ian Gregor. William Golding: a critical study. London: Faber and Faber, 1967
- Moody, Philippa. Golding: Lord of the Flies, a critical commentary. London: Macmillan, 1964.
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Created: 15/04/99 Updated: 15/ 08/ 00
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