Two separate illustrations of an animal head and a fire on a mountain

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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Last Updated on February 25, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 314

Lord of the Flies invites numerous angles of discussion and interpretation. One can analyze Golding’s novel as an allegory, whose story is designed to represent broader aspects of human existence. One can find equally rewarding material in discussions of Golding’s historical context and influences, in his use of symbolism, and in close readings of the novel’s key passages.


Lord of the Flies has two primary allegorical interpretations: societal and biblical. By reading it as an allegory for society, Ralph represents democracy and civilization, holding the position of chief and discovering the conch, which is itself a symbol of civilized, democratic discourse... (Read more on Allegory in Lord of the Flies)

Historical Context

Lord of the Flies was written by Nobel laureate William Golding (1911–1993) in the early 1950s and first published in 1954. The Hobbesian vision of young boys in the wilderness was in many ways a response to the horrors of World War II, and... (Read more Historical Context for Lord of the Flies)

Literary Influences

Two of Golding’s major literary influences in Lord of the Flies are R.M. Ballantyne’s The Coral Island and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. In Ballantyne’s novel, three boys, two of whom are named Ralph and Jack, are... (Read more on Literary Influences for Lord of the Flies)


While Lord of the Flies is widely known as a novel of themes and allegories, Golding’s ideas are often most clearly seen through particular passages. Carefully studying the most important quotes reveals the broader designs and aims of the novel. (Read more on Quotes for Lord of the Flies)


Lord of the Flies is an intensely symbolic work at all levels of analysis. As an allegory, the story’s most basic elements serve as symbols for aspects of human life. Golding builds this intentional symbolism into...(Read more on Symbols in Lord of the Flies)

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