A Theme is an overarching idea that runs through a literary text or in one or some parts of it. It makes up the major point of the author he wants to convey to his readers. Lord of the Flies is a rich literary text having multidimensional themes. Some of the overarching themes are discussed below.
Examples of Themes in Lord of the Flies
Loss of Innocence
Loss of innocence is one of the major themes of Lord of the Flies. Piggy, Ralph and “littluns” represent innocence. The death of Piggy and flight of Ralph from fear of death at the hands of Jack and his hunters is the loss of innocence. The innocent boys have become hunters symbolically but later in the novel they turn upon Ralph after killing Piggy. They become hunters of human life. This is where their innocence is lost in the maze of confusion.
Savageness and Society
Savageness in the society is another overarching theme of Lord of the Flies. Through the character of Jack and his hunters, William Golding has beautifully displayed that human nature subtly becomes prey to savagery. Except Jack, all others are just followers. The ways of Jack tempt them toward hunting which is savagery in nature. With the passage of time, they become savages and start hunting human beings such as Ralph. This shows how savageness and savagery spread in a society.
Vice Against Virtue
Vice against virtue is another major theme of the novel. William Golding has deliberately put children in the wilderness to evaluate how virtue is an innate feature of human nature, and how it loses against the vice. A simple devious vice of Jack to dominate the children by taking leadership from Ralph turns into a vice. It gradually dominates others and by the end of the novel, Ralph is left alone to represent virtue on that island.
End of Rationalism
Lord of the Flies shows how rationalism is a good virtue but also very difficult to practice. Piggy, the representative of rationalism and rational thinking, is timid when it comes to assert his rationality. He fears that absurdity is dominating, and it will swallow him. Jack’s absurd thinking becomes enemy of Piggy and succeeds in killing him when Jack finds an opportunity. With the death of Piggy, rational thinking among the children comes to an end. Soon they degenerates into a herd of killers.
Absence of Social Norms
A latent major theme that William Golding has put into Lord of the Flies is the presence of social norms and traditions. The idea behind this theme is that it is the pressure of the social norms and traditions that forces people to obey laws and rules or traditions. If there is absence of social norms, people show their true face, and it is mostly evil and vicious. However, social norms, traditions and customs protect the weaker lot, as Piggy is safe until there is proper leadership and rule of conch. But he is instantly killed when conch becomes an obsolete thing.
Dehumanization of Relations
Relations between human beings is one of the greatest mysteries. This novel shows when relations between human beings degenerates, they come so low that even animals feel ashamed of them. Jack instantly orders killing of Piggy when they become two parties, and war for domination ensues. Ralph and Jack are just two boys with normal relations, but Jack becomes his enemy when relationships deteriorates. This is called dehumanization of relations, both of them become anonymous for each other.
The Nature of Evil or Vice
Although it is generally believed that all human beings are good and that vice dominates only when there is tendency to it. However, Lord of the Flies show a different perspective. It shows that not only human beings are good or bad, but also some have tendency toward evil or vice such as Jack. This leads to a total degeneration of character if there is no social or legal restriction on it. This shows that evil spreads quickly if goodness is not there to obstruct it with the same proportion.
Community against Individual
Although the theme of community against an individual is a minor one, it runs throughout the novel from the very start when Ralph becomes the leader and Piggy supports him. Jack turns against them. He forms his own group and community of hunters. Slowly this community turns against Ralph after killing Piggy. Ralph is left alone and is on the run for his life. It shows how a community persecutes an individual not confirming to its savage rituals.
Progress of Civilization
Lord of the Flies shows the progress of civilization through its incidents. The two group of boys, hunters of Jack and followers of Ralph, compete with each other. Ralph represents civilization, order and rule, while Jack and his group represent savagery and barbarism. The competition reaches its peak when conch is defied and rules are broken. Finally, the hunters take over the island and hampers the progress of civilization whose representatives, Piggy is killed, while Ralph is running for life.
Absence of Laws
When the children landed on the island, they are left on their own. They do not have any social setup with traditions and rules. Ralph and Piggy tries to set up a society through assembly with the help of the conch. However, in the absence of a proper adult supervision and guidance, they soon resort to violence. The strong group of hunters see that there is no binding laws and punishing authority. Therefore, they form their own strong group and try to break their rules. Once the rules are broken, they are on the loose, and Piggy is killed in this mess. This makes them bolder, and they try to kill Ralph too, who saves himself due to the arrival of the British officer. This shows that absence of laws create chaos and mess that kills innocents and the weak.
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