Book Review: Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Lord of the Flies

I feel like this is one of those books that most people are told they should read, whether in school or just in general, but one that a lot of people don’t like. In fact, I don’t know anyone in my personal life who has read it and liked it.

However, I wanted to read it, as it’s an important novel which has had multiple movie adaptations and is required reading material in many school. And, while I am happy I did read it…it wasn’t exactly great.

Release: 1954

Synopsis: During a massive war, a group of British schoolboys are marooned on an island, forced to use their wits to survive as they go from celebrating freedom to barbarism.

Spoiler Review:

On one hand, I understood and appreciated what Golding was trying to do with this book. He was trying to show that we all have a more inhuman and savage side if we defy rules or create our own twisted ones. You see this throughout history (with Nazism, for example). However, when it came to the details of the story, characters, and pacing, I just really didn’t like it. It’s a pretty slow and boring book, and it took me until over halfway into the novel to even start being interested. I didn’t really connect to any of the characters, and when something more traumatic happened, I found myself not caring too much.

There are three main characters who are more or less the oldest boys and the ones vying for power: Ralph, Piggy, and Jack. Jack is a hunter, often savage and cruel, leading a group of chaotic boys. Piggy is an overweight boy with glasses, who is probably the smartest, most moral of the group, but also physically disabled because of his poor eyesight and being out of shape. Ralph is arguably the main character of the book, and the first one we meet, who leads the boys in the beginning with the help of Piggy.

Now, I am going to get into some spoilers, like the very ending, but a lot of the deaths and smaller spoilers throughout I’ll leave for you to find out if you ever read the book.

There are several other boys who are named, including Simon and a set of twins. However, I honestly found most of the characters, including the main three, to be pretty bland. They all fit nicely into perfect roles. Jack is the crazy, animistic one. Piggy is the sensitive, reasonable one. Ralph is the level-headed, rational leader. I understand this book was written for a younger demographic, but because it covers such complex and horrible topics, I kept wanting the characters to defy their set, basic personalities.

In the end, the boys are consumed by their fear of this “Beast,” and slowly devolve to be less and less civilized, and more into animals. Ralph is the only one who is level-headed by the end, being hunted through the island by the pack of boys led by Jack. However, the book ends with the military coming to the island and rescuing Ralph before he can be killed.

I loved one of the lines on the last page, “…Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart…” It’s one of my favorite lines in the book, because it encompassed what most of us realize some point in our life. That there is a darkness in humanity, which has led to disaster after disaster throughout history.

So while I didn’t enjoy the book that much, I understood and appreciated what Golding was trying to achieve in the novel.

Have you read this book, or seen any of it’s adaptations? What do you think of it? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,

Madame Writer

15 thoughts on “Book Review: Lord of the Flies by William Golding

  1. Perhaps its being allegory might be why the characters come across as so stereotypical. Reading the book as allegorical (and thus seeing everything as symbolic) is a much more interesting way to read it I think. Glad you read it, though!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had to read this book in my sophomore year of high school. It was made out to be such a big deal that we even had class projects surrounding it such as a trial involving many historic figures throughout history to answer the question of if humanity is fundamentally evil or good.

    I personally liked the book, but I understand why a lot of people don’t. I don’t think, however, that exposing the book to young high schoolers is the best idea since most of my classmates didn’t understand the complexity of what Golding was trying to say. Plus, I think the argument is reductive and lacks subtlety: humans are capable of horrendous things, sure, but that doesn’t in itself mean that humans are no better than animals.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Interesting thought. Humans are capable of horrible things, and yet we are certainly different than animals. I personally am glad I didn’t read this book when I was in high school, because I don’t think I would have understood it then. But, even if I wasn’t a massive fan of this book even if I found the message interesting, I am still really glad I read it.


    2. I teach it to 9th graders, and you better believe that I talk a LOT about how humans are (well, CAN be) better than Golding’s portrayal. If I’m not persistent in reiterating the point, the students come away thinking that we’re just all evil and there’s no hope. Yikes. I tell them, “If that were the case WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD I TEACH THIS BOOK TO 14-YEAR OLDS?” So hopefully though my very emphatic teaching, they get it. I can only hope.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for your teaching! I completely agree with your sentiment, that it is not simply books we read in school, but helping students understand why we read them and get them thinking about humanity.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review! I think the movie “The Island” (δΈ€ε‡Ίε₯½ζˆ) , directed by a Chinese actor called Huang Bo is adapted from this classic novel. I still remember how amazed I was by the plot. The idea of Golding is so brilliant that so many works of art have been inspired by this novel to examine humanity in a deeper way.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s probably easier just to watch The Simpson’s parody of LoTF to get an idea of his point πŸ˜‚ I enjoyed it when I was forced to read it at school, although teenage boys in general likely gloss over the point about the depths of human depravity outside the rule of law and just enjoy the chaos and freedom and brains being lapped off the rocks into the sea.

    Liked by 2 people

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