Lord of the Flies Critical Essays
by William Golding

Lord of the Flies book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Download Lord of the Flies Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Sample Essay Outlines

The following paper topics are designed to test your understanding of the novel as a whole and your ability to analyze important themes and literary devices. Following each question is a sample outline to help get you started.

  • Topic #1

    The characters’ loss of identity is a predominant theme of the book. Discuss each of the main characters’ loss of identity as the book progresses, and how this brings about the devastation that occurs in the book.

    I. Thesis statement: The main characters in Lord of the Flies
    experience a loss of identity throughout the book that eventually causes the devastation and death that prevail.

    II. Ralph
    A. His original view of the island as a paradise
    B. His leadership qualities and ideas
    C. Ineffective leadership
    D. Inability to remember his purpose
    E. His own minor digressions into savagery

    III. Piggy
    A. Piggy’s introduction and the significance of his naming
    B. The rejection and acceptance of his ideas
    C. Piggy’s changing relationship with Ralph
    D. Piggy’s symbolic descent into blindness

    IV. Jack Merridew
    A. Jack’s original role on the island
    B. Jack’s leadership qualities
    C. The gradual symbolic camouflage
    D. Jack’s twisted vision

    V. Roger
    A. Roger’s initial description
    B. Roger’s bizarre behavioral tendencies unfettered by civilized restraint
    C. Roger’s emerging role in Jack’s tribe

    VI. Conclusion: Why the characters’ loss of their civilized identities support Golding’s theory that the problems with mankind are inherent in man.

  • Topic #2

    Beelzebub, the demon of chaos, is also known as The Lord of the Flies. Though this is not referred to directly in the book, chaos, violence, anarchy, and destruction are central images in the book. Trace the characters’ relationships to The Lord of the Flies in the book, particularly as it is physically represented by the pig’s head impaled on a stick.

    I. Thesis statement: Each of the main characters in Lord of the Flies has a significant relationship with “the beast” on the
    island that is connected with the emerging scenes of violence on the island and their fates.

    II. Ralph
    A. Leader and champion of civilization
    B. Opposite of Jack
    C. Minor forays into violence, anarchy, or chaos
    1. Standing the boar’s charge and participating in the dance
    2. Fighting with Jack
    3. Forgetting his purpose
    D. Major forays into violence, anarchy, or chaos
    1. His role in Simon’s death
    2. Battling his attackers
    E. Ralph’s inability to destroy The Lord of the Flies
    1. His encounter with the skull
    2. Loss of control on the island

    III. Jack
    A. His increasing desire to hunt
    B. His decreasing desire for responsibility
    C. His increasing desire for power
    D. Denunciation of the conch
    E. Harbinger of anarchy
    1. His own tribe on Castle Rock
    2. His own brand of leadership
    3. The hunt for Ralph

    IV. Piggy
    A. Intellect vs. manual labor
    B. Frail belief in the conch
    C. Inability to accept chaos
    D. Victim of violence

    V. Simon
    A. Understanding the nature of the beast
    B. Discussions with the pig’s head
    1. Talking from within himself
    2. Falling into the pig’s mouth
    C. The inability to express the truth
    D. Looking into the face of the beast
    E. Victim of violence

    VI. Roger
    A. The emerging sadist
    B. Behavioral abnormalities
    1. Descriptions of his eager embracing of the collapse of authority
    C. Champion of anarchy

    VII. Conclusion: Sum up the boys’ relationships with “the beast” in terms of their fates.

  • Topic #3

    A subtle thematic device in the book is Golding’s use of point of view to establish character and motives. Trace the book’s shifting point of view in these terms.

    I. Thesis statement: Though Ralph is the main character of Lord of the Flies, and much of the story is told from his point of view, Golding also reveals his narrative through other characters, most notably Jack and Simon, as well as an omnipresent narrator. These separate views help to establish both character and theme.

    II. Ralph
    A. The novel’s predominant point of view
    B. Plain, descriptive prose
    C. Prose lapses into poetical visions

    III. Jack
    A. The...

(The entire section is 9,460 words.)