Please discuss how Lord of the Flies represent, or mirror, reality?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In short, literature is the recording of human experience.  So, ipso facto, it must reflect, or mirror life. (This is the cliche of "art imitating life.")

In his novel, "The Lord of the Flies," Golding writes an allegory in which the characters represent "types."  His island on which the boys land is a type of Eden, but because its inhabitants have been exposed to "civilization," they are not as pristine as Adam and Eve.  Instead, the boys represent two types; the "Apollian" and the "Dionysian" in a somewhat mythologial story.

Nonetheless, there real applications to "Lord of the Flies" and it characters.  The "Apollo," Ralph, represents the law-abiding citizen who realizes the need for order in a society, while the "Dionysius" is represented by Jack, who satiates his carnal desires and baser nature.  Thus, the society of the novel is a bipolar one in which the more humane side is in conflict with the baser, more savage nature of man.  Without the restraints of a civilized society, the Rogers, who are only controlled by rules and laws, give reign to their savage nature, and dominate and ultimately destroy the others.

In the present-day world, there are examples of what happens when the restraints of an orderly society are removed. As Golding writes of Roger:

[His] arm was conditioned by a civilation that knew nothing of him and was in ruins.  [On the island he] is liberated from shame and self-consciousness.

With the acceptance of violence in movies and other media, many are now "liberated from shame and self-consciousness," and commit acts that are of a savage, not civilized, nature.  Certainly, the deterioration of societies today is mirrored in the novel, "Lord of the Flies."


epollock | Student


Literature always mirrors society because of theme. Theme is the central message or idea stated as a sentence that is incorporated throughout a literary work. A theme is a message the author presents to the reader that may be explicit, simplistic, vague, difficult to understand, or even moralistic.

Generally, a theme is understood as the reader explores the passages in the work. The author utilizes the plot, structure,  and other literary devices to assist the reader in discovering the theme. One theme that may be understood by the reader of Golding's "Lord of the Flies"is that "Without the conventions of civilized society, people will break down into savages."

Another theme can be found in Tolstoy's "How Much Land Does a Man Need?" that theme would be: "No one way of life is better than the other, or, People can find happiness in life in anything that value without searching for more.

In classic works of literature, the author intertwines the theme throughout the work and the full impact is revealed by reading through to the completed work in which the ending holds the key to understanding the theme.

The ability to recognize a theme is a great skill to have as a student because it allows the student to understand part of the author’s purpose in writing the book, which reveals the society in which the work was written.  

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Lord of the Flies

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