Was "Lord of the Flies" intentionally written as an allegory?  What about other allegorical stories?

Expert Answers
renkins44 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

An allegory is also a representation of an idea through the use of, in this case, characters and setting. Allegory and methaphor both aim to transform an unfamiliar, abstract idea into something familiar. Golding wants the reader to contemplate if humans are inherently evil. In other words, are human beings born with evil tendencies that are kept in check only by law and religion? Just like when Animal Farm uses farm animals to represent different political leaders and their motives, Golding uses a group of initially civilized boys on an island without any societal structure. Moreover, within the whole group of boys, Golding represents a number of societal sects and prominent figures that can be found in most societies. For example, Simon represents a religious figure based on his beleifs and standing in the group. Because Simon, along with all of the other characters or groups of characters, actually represents something other than himself, the book can be considered an allegory.

ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

An allegory is a story with some kind of moral message. The novel was written soon after the end of World War II when many were still seeking an answers for the atrocities committed by the Nazis. Golding wanted to promote the message that there is an evil inside of mankind that must be controlled by a strong government and laws. The Nazis had come to power because of the very weak government that proceeded it. In "Lord of the Flies", Ralph is not a strong leader and therefore Jack is able to overthrow his rule. Thus, Golding intentionally wrote an allegory because this type of story was best suited to his theme. Other allegories are also written for the same reasons. From "Pilgrim's Progress to "Animal Farm", others who have a message they want to give, use this form of literature because it lends itself to a moral meaning.

donnach | Student

Thanks for the answers.  I know that Pilgrim's Progress, for instance, was an intentional allegory.  I also know that J.R. Tolkien balked at the attempts made to categorize his work as allegorical.  Golding's work seems to fall somewhere between the two in terms of obvious allegorical intention.

To me Golding seems pushing less of a moral lesson and more of an idea, as one of the people responded has stated.  I can't see how a moral lesson can be made about the rules breaking down when there is no societal structure or a weak government.  There's no way for people to behave NOT to have those things happen.  No amount of "better behavior"--altruism, hard work, honesty, etc. will prevent a plane from crashing or a weak government from being overthrown.  To me it seems like Golding is trying to get people to weigh and consider certain ideas, and possibly extrapolate those ideas to the world around them at that particular time in history.


Sorry if these seem like strange and rudimentary questions for a English teacher-to-be to be asking, but I cannot remember reading Lord of the Flies the first time around, and it's what is being read in a class I'm observing as well as several classes that I've been a substitute teacher in.  I want to have it down, and sooner than later at that.      

Read the study guide:
Lord of the Flies

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question