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William Golding's Lord of the Flies, whose very title forebodes evil, engages readers by its unique style that incorporates several techniques:
Written as a response to the Victorian novel Coral Island by R. M. Ballantyne in which the civilized English boys stranded on an island maintain British decorum and defeat savage natives who intend harm, Golding parodies this novel and other adventure novels such as Robinson Crusoe and The Swiss Family Robinson with unexpected plot development in which the innate savagery of humans emerges. For instance, instead of watching over little Henry who plays by the seashore, Roger pelts his little area with stones. During meetings, rather than displaying youthful fraternity, the boys exhibit much animosity to one another. Their boyish game of pretending to be the "beast," ends in the death of Simon, a macabre parody of a game such as "Blind Man's Bluff."
In order to more clearly present the human conflicts of reason and emotion against the atavistic forces of man, Golding employs characters who represent certain aspects of humanity, providing the reader a clear view of the intrinsic nature of man. For instance, Piggy represents reason and intellectualism while Jack is the brute force that is often supressed in man. In addition, Golding directs the reader skillfully through the steps of developing situations, such as the hunt for the pigs, the rolling of the pink granite stones--which was initially just for fun--to their deadly purpose, a purpose that reveals that their arms are no longer restrained by civilization as their inherent natures emerge.
Allusions to mythology
With the power of the sun blinding Piggy and inhibiting his reasoning, and with the fire as a tremendous source of power which leaves the ones without it bereft and helpless, there are clearly underlining mythological themes, themes that are always intriguing as they carry a reader to a dimension far beyond the mundane.
Symbol, Mystery, and Horror
The power of the symbolic painted masks allows the boys to transcend their humanity, removing them from responsibility, instilling the action with a mysterious aura. Then, when the symbol of Beelzebub, the Lord of the Flies, talks with Simon, grinning in mockery of Ralph's delight at being on an island paradise, the scene becomes horrific as Simon intuitively realizes the horror of man's inherent evil. This and other episodes such as the figure high at the top of the mountain certainly elicit emotive responses from the reader.
Further in the narrative, psychological horror is created by the juxtaposition of savage boys who are uncivilized with the purportedly civilized naval officer in what is termed Golding's reversal ending,
"one where the perspective changes dramatically and the reader sees characters and events in a different way" (eNotes, Lord of the Flies: Techniques)
As the officer merely perceives a dirty group of boys that he catches in "fun and games," the horror lies in the reader's knowledge that he/she perceives the depravity of man that the naval officer has overlooked.
Indeed, in his allegory of man's innate cruelty and depravity, William Golding leads his reader through the complex and intriguing narrative of symbol, myth-like episodes, mystery and horror, and ultimately parody that sharply conveys his most existential and serious theme.
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