Lord of the Flies

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Themes and Colors
Human Nature Theme Icon
Civilization Theme Icon
Savagery and the "Beast" Theme Icon
Spirituality and Religion Theme Icon
The Weak and the Strong Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Lord of the Flies, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

William Golding once said that in writing Lord of the Flies he aimed to trace society's flaws back to their source in human nature. By leaving a group of English schoolboys to fend for themselves on a remote jungle island, Golding creates a kind of human nature laboratory in order to examine what happens when the constraints of civilization vanish and raw human nature takes over. In Lord of the Flies, Golding argues that…

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Although Golding argues that people are fundamentally savage, drawn toward pleasure and violence, human beings have successfully managed to create thriving civilizations for thousands of years. So that disproves Golding's theory about human nature being savage, right? Wrong. The famous psychologist Sigmund Freud argued that without the innate human capacity to repress desire, civilization would not exist. In Lord of the Flies, Golding makes a similar argument. He depicts civilization as a veil that…

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The "beast" is a symbol Golding uses to represent the savage impulses lying deep within every human being. Civilization exists to suppress the beast. By keeping the natural human desire for power and violence to a minimum, civilization forces people to act responsibly and rationally, as boys like Piggy and Ralph do in Lord in the Flies. Savagery arises when civilization stops suppressing the beast: it's the beast unleashed. Savages not only…

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Most of the boys on the island either hide behind civilization, denying the beast's existence, or succumb to the beast's power by embracing savagery. But in Lord of the Flies, Golding presents an alternative to civilized suppression and beastly savagery. This is a life of religion and spiritual truth-seeking, in which men look into their own hearts, accept that there is a beast within, and face it squarely.

Simon occupies this role in…

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Within the larger battle of civilization and savagery ravaging the boys's community on the island, Lord of the Flies also depicts in great detail the relationships and power dynamics between the boys. In particular, the novel shows how boys fight to belong and be respected by the other boys. The main way in which the boys seek this belonging and respect is to appear strong and powerful. And in order to appear strong and powerful…

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