Why is Lord of the Flies worth reading?

The Level One essay below is in response to the question:

1. Describe an important idea you learned about in the text. Explain why this idea was worth learning about.

An important idea in the novel Lord of the Flies by William Golding is the idea that evil exists within all men. This idea was worth learning about because it is Golding’s attempt at explaining the atrocities of World War Two, and it helps us to understand the importance of laws and rules in our society.

William Golding experienced first hand the horrors of World War Two, and Lord of the Flies was written to warn us that ‘what happened in Germany could happen anywhere. It could happen here.’ Golding shows us that evil exists not just in those who commit awful crimes, but in all of us. In his novel, a group of young schoolboys are stuck on an island, without adults, and without rules. At first this is an exciting prospect for them; a world without rules is paradise. But the boys start having nightmares about a strange beast. And very quickly, their behaviour begins to deteriorate. At first, Ralph diplomatically leads the group. But Jack decides to create his own tribe, and by the end of the novel Simon and Piggy have been killed, and Ralph is being hunted.

Ralph is portrayed as the protagonist of Lord of the Flies. He is fair haired, level-headed, and voted chief of the boy’s tribe. He is intelligent and diplomatic, and sets about creating a system of laws for the island. But Golding uses Ralph to help convey the idea that ‘all men are inherently evil’. Ralph is the good guy. Of all people, he is the one who will bring peace and justice to the island. But before he realises what he is doing, Ralph is involved in the murder of Simon. Even innocent Ralph is capable of murder. Golding wants us to understand that anyone has the potential to do ghastly things. All Germans were not murderers. But many of them became Nazi soldiers, responsible for the deaths of millions. And Golding warns us that the same thing could happen again. ‘It could happen here.’ This idea is worth learning about, because if we realise our potential for evil, we can take steps to prevent that potential becoming a reality.

We discover that the beast on the island is not a mythical creature, or an unknown monster. In fact, it is much more real. ‘You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you? Close, close, close!’, the beast taunts Simon. ‘I’m the reason why it’s no go? Why things are what they are?’ Simon discovers that the beast is the evil within every human being. But before he can tell the others, he is beaten to death by them. Golding shows us how easily men can become murderous savages. In the absence of law and order, society breaks down. This is worth learning about because the same thing is happening in our world today. An example of this is the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. All of a sudden, law did not exist. And people started looting, raping, and murdering. We need laws to keep us civilised. Golding saw what happened in World War Two, when the law broke down. Civilisation broke down too. His novel was written to warn us of this danger.

An important idea in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies is that all men are inherently evil, and that we need laws to keep us functioning in a civilised way. This idea is worth learning about because it reminds us that laws, though sometimes frustrating, are truly necessary to prevent anarchy. And it warns us that what happened in Nazi Germany could happen anywhere. We need to be aware of the danger if we are going to be able to prevent a repeat of history.

Any thoughts?


4 thoughts on “Why is Lord of the Flies worth reading?

  1. Probably written by a history student in Year 11 (when we study Nazi Germany), this is a great interpretation of a question. The student applied the theme to not only a historical context of the time of the author, explaining the motivations of the author in doing so, but the student also related the ideas to modern society, providing a clever and original response to a unique question. Most high achieving students would probably leave this question for a character based question, or attempt it, without exploring this idea on the level seen in this essay.
    Without a doubt, an excellence.

  2. Heya, just came across your website when looking for help on writing my yr 12 essays. It would be helpful if you could also note the grade achieved for each essay or peice of work posted on your site so i know what level essay i am reading.

  3. Hi Nikki,
    thanks for your suggestion. Many of the essays on the blog do have a grade attached but I will add more essays with that information in the lead up to the NCEA exams.

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