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Lord of the Flies

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For the 1963 film, see Lord of the Flies (1963 film). For the 1990 film, see Lord of the Flies (1990 film). For other uses, see Lord of the Flies (disambiguation).
Lord of the Flies
LordOfTheFliesBookCover.jpg
The original UK Lord of the Flies book cover
Author William Golding
Cover artist Anthony Gross[1]
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Allegorical novel
Publisher Faber and Faber
Publication date
17 September 1954
ISBN 0-571-05686-5 (first edition, paperback)
OCLC 47677622

Lord of the Flies is a 1954 novel by Nobel Prize-winning English author William Golding about a group of British boys stuck on an uninhabited island who try to govern themselves with disastrous results.

Background

Published in 1954, Lord of the Flies was Golding's first novel. Although it was not a great success at the time—selling fewer than 3,000 copies in the United States during 1955 before going out of print—it soon went on to become a best-seller. It has been adapted to film twice in English, in 1963 by Peter Brook and 1990 by Harry Hook, and once in Filipino (1976).

The book indicates that it takes place in the midst of an unspecified nuclear war. Some of the marooned characters are ordinary students, while others arrive as a musical choir under an established leader. Most (with the exception of the choirboys and Sam and Eric) appear never to have encountered one another before. The book portrays their descent into savagery; left to themselves in a paradisiacal country, far from modern civilisation, the well-educated children regress to a primitive state.

The novel is a reaction to the youth novel The Coral Island by R. M. Ballantyne.[citation needed]

Plot

In the midst of a wartime evacuation, a British plane crashes on or near an isolated island in a remote region of the Pacific Ocean. The only survivors are boys in their middle childhood or preadolescence. Two boys—the fair-haired Ralph and an overweight, bespectacled boy nicknamed "Piggy"—find a conch, which Ralph uses as a horn to call all the survivors to one area. Due largely to the fact that Ralph appears responsible for bringing all the survivors together, he is quickly elected their "chief", though he does not receive the votes of the members of a boys' choir, led by the red-headed Jack Merridew. Ralph asserts three primary goals: to have fun, survive, and to maintain a smoke signal that could alert passing ships to their presence on the island. The boys declare that whoever holds the conch shall also be able to speak at their formal gatherings and receive the attentive silence of the larger group.

Jack organises his choir group into a hunting party responsible for discovering a food source. Ralph, Jack, and a quiet, dreamy boy named Simon soon form a loose triumvirate of leaders. Though he is Ralph's only confidant, Piggy is quickly made into an outcast by his fellow "biguns" (older boys) and becomes an unwilling source of laughs for the other children. Simon, in addition to supervising the project of constructing shelters, feels an instinctive need to protect the "littluns" (younger boys).

The semblance of order quickly deteriorates as the majority of the boys turn idle, giving little aid in building shelters, and begin to develop paranoias about the island, referring to a supposed monster, the "beast", which they believe to exist on the island. Ralph insists that no such beast exists, but Jack, who has started a power struggle with Ralph, gains control of the discussion by boldly promising to kill the beast. At one point, Jack summons all of his hunters to hunt down a wild pig, drawing away those assigned to maintain the signal fire. A ship travels by the island, but without the boys' smoke signal to alert the ship's crew, the ship continues by without stopping. Angered by the failure of the boys to attract potential rescuers, Ralph considers relinquishing his position, but is convinced not to do so by Piggy.

One night, an aerial battle occurs over the island while the boys sleep, during which a fighter pilot ejects from his plane and dies during the descent. His body drifts down to the island in his parachute; both get tangled in a tree near the top of the mountain. Later on, while Jack schemes against Ralph, twins Sam and Eric, now assigned to the maintenance of the signal fire, see the corpse of the fighter pilot and his parachute in the dark. Mistaking the corpse for the beast, they run to the cluster of shelters that Ralph and Simon have erected and warn the others. This unexpected meeting again raises tensions between Jack and Ralph. Shortly thereafter, Jack decides to lead a party to the other side of the island, where a mountain of stones, later called Castle Rock, forms a place where he claims the beast resides. Only Ralph and Jack's sadistic supporter Roger agree to go; Ralph turns back shortly before the other two boys. When they arrive at the shelters, Jack calls an assembly and tries to turn the others against Ralph, asking for them to remove him from his position. Receiving little support, Jack, Roger, and another boy leave the shelters to form their own tribe. This tribe lures in recruits from the main group by providing a feast of cooked pig and its members begin to paint their faces and enact bizarre rituals including sacrifices to the beast.

Simon, who faints frequently and is likely an epileptic,[2][3] has a secret hideaway where he goes to be alone. One day while he is there, Jack and his followers erect a faux sacrifice to the beast nearby: a severed pig's head, mounted on a sharpened stick, and soon swarming with scavenging flies. Simon conducts an imaginary dialog with the head, which he dubs the "Lord of the Flies". The head mocks Simon's notion that the beast is a real entity, "something you could hunt and kill", and reveals the truth: They, the boys, are the beast; it is inside them all. The Lord of the Flies also warns Simon that he is in danger, because he represents the soul and spirit of man, and predicts that the others will kill him. Sure enough, during a ritual dance, the frenzied boys mistake Simon for the beast, attack him, and beat him to death.

Jack and his rebel band decide that the real symbol of power on the island is not the conch, but Piggy's glasses—the only means the boys have of starting a fire. They raid Ralph's camp, confiscate the glasses, and return to their abode on Castle Rock. Ralph, now deserted by most of his supporters, journeys to Castle Rock to confront Jack and secure the glasses. Taking the conch and accompanied only by Piggy, Sam, and Eric, Ralph finds the tribe and demands that they return the valuable object. Turning against Ralph, the tribe captures Sam and Eric while Roger drops a boulder from his vantage point above, killing Piggy and shattering the conch. Ralph manages to escape, but Sam and Eric are tortured until they agree to join Jack's tribe.

The following morning, Jack orders his tribe to begin a manhunt for Ralph. Jack's savages set fire to the forest while Ralph desperately weighs his options for survival. Following a long chase, most of the island is consumed in flames. With the hunters closely behind him, Ralph trips and falls. He looks up at a uniformed adult – a naval officer whose party has landed from a passing warship to investigate the fire. Ralph bursts into tears over the death of Piggy and the "end of innocence". Jack and the other children, filthy and unkempt, also revert to their true ages and erupt into sobs. The officer expresses his disappointment at seeing British boys exhibiting such feral, warlike behaviour before turning to stare awkwardly at his own warship.

Themes

At an allegorical level, the central theme is the conflicting human impulses toward civilization and social organization—living by rules, peacefully and in harmony—and toward the will to power. Themes include the tension between groupthink and individuality, between rational and emotional reactions, and between morality and immorality. How these play out, and how different people feel the influences of these, form a major subtext of Lord of the Flies.[citation needed] The name "Lord of the Flies" is a literal translation of Beelzebub, from 2 Kings 1:2–3, 6, 16.

Reception

Adaptations

Film

There have been these film adaptations:

Stage

Nigel Williams adapted the text for the stage. It was debuted by the Royal Shakespeare Company in July 1996. The Pilot Theatre Company has toured it extensively in the United Kingdom and abroad.

In October 2014 it was announced that the 2011 production [7] of Lord of the Flies would return to conclude the 2015 season at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre ahead of a major UK tour. The production is to be directed by the Artistic Director Timothy Sheader who won the 2014 Whatsonstage.com Awards Best Play Revival for To Kill A Mockingbird.

Radio

In June 2013, BBC Radio 4 Extra broadcast a dramatization by Judith Adams in four 30-minute episodes directed by Sasha Yevtushenko.[8] The cast included Ruth Wilson as "The Narrator", Finn Bennett as "Ralph", Richard Linnel as "Jack", Caspar Hilton-Hilley as "Piggy" and Jack Caine as "Simon".

  1. Fire on the Mountain
  2. Painted Faces
  3. Beast from the Air
  4. Gift for Darkness

Influence

Many writers have borrowed plot elements from Lord of the Flies. By the early 1960s, it was required reading in many schools and colleges.[citation needed]

Film

Stephen King's fictional town of Castle Rock, inspired by the fictional mountain fort of the same name in Lord of the Flies, in turn inspired the name of Rob Reiner's production company, Castle Rock Entertainment, which produced the film Lord of the Flies (1990).[9]

Literature

Stephen King got the name Castle Rock from the fictional mountain fort of the same name in Lord of the Flies and used the name to refer to a fictional town that has appeared in a number of his novels.[10] The book itself appears prominently in his novels Hearts in Atlantis (1999), Misery (1987), and Cujo (1981).[11]

Stephen King wrote an introduction for a new edition of Lord of the Flies (2011) to mark the centenary of William Golding's birth in 2011.[9]

The novel Garden Lakes by Jaime Clarke is an homage to Lord of the Flies.

Music

The final song on U2's debut album Boy (1980) takes its title, "Shadows and Tall Trees", from Chapter 7 in the book.[12]

Iron Maiden wrote a song inspired by the book, included in their 1995 album The X Factor.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Bound books – a set on Flickr". Retrieved 10 September 2012. 
  2. ^ Baker, James Rupert; Ziegler, Arthur P., eds. (1983). William Golding's Lord of the Flies. Penguin. p. xxi. 
  3. ^ Rosenfield, Claire (1990). "Men of a Smaller Growth: A Psychological Analysis of William Golding's Lord of the Flies". Contemporary Literary Criticism. 58. Detroit, MI: Gale Research. pp. 93–101. 
  4. ^ "100 most frequently challenged books: 1990–1999". American Library Association. 2009. Retrieved 16 August 2009. 
  5. ^ "The Big Read - Top 100 Books". BBC. April 2003. Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  6. ^ Grossman, Lev; Lacayo, Richard (6 October 2005). "ALL-TIME 100 Novels. Lord of the Flies (1955), by William Golding". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 10 December 2012. 
  7. ^ "Lord of the Flies, Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, review". The Telegraph. Retrieved 26 May 2011. [not in citation given]
  8. ^ "William Golding - Lord of the Flies". BBC Radio 4. 
  9. ^ a b King, Stephen (2011). "Introduction by Stephen King". Faber and Faber. Retrieved 12 October 2011. 
  10. ^ Beahm, George (1992). The Stephen King story (Revised ed.). Kansas City: Andrews and McMeel. p. 120. ISBN 0-8362-8004-0. Castle Rock, which King in turn had got from Golding's Lord of the Flies. 
  11. ^ Liukkonen, Petri. "Stephen King". Books and Writers (kirjasto.sci.fi). Finland: Kuusankoski Public Library. Archived from the original on 10 February 2015. 
  12. ^ Bailie, Stuart (13 June 1992). "Rock and Roll Should Be This Big!". NME. UK. Retrieved 28 November 2007. 
  13. ^ Cohen, David (2006). The Simpsons The Complete Ninth Season DVD commentary for "Das Bus" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  • Golding, William (1958) [1954]. Lord of the Flies (Print ed.). Boston: Faber & Faber. 

External links