Conflict in William Golding's Lord of the Flies

Pages: 6 (1967 words) Published: April 1, 2013
|Conflict in William Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies’ | |Pre-IB Extended Essay (English) |

Question: To what extent is conflict in literature derived from internal conflict?


Sir William Gerald Golding was a British novelist and Nobel Prize for Literature laureate, best known for his novel ‘Lord of the Flies.’ He was awarded the prestigious Booker Prize for Literature in 1980 for his novel ‘Rites of Passage,’ and in 2008, he was ranked 3rd on The Times’ List of ‘The 50 Greatest British Writers Since 1945.’ His most famous novel, ‘Lord of the Flies,’ is about the things that a group of English schoolboys experience while being stranded on a deserted island. The novel not only focuses on the significant events that the characters go through, but also explores the transition of human nature, about how their social behaviour can change over time in extreme circumstances, and the extent interpersonal conflict can be derived from an individual, psychological level, caused by a possible collision of interests and values.


British novelist William Gerald Golding's famous novel 'Lord of the Flies' is considered as one of the greatest literary works of the 20th century. His work is highly valued and respected because of the fact that he uses fictional characters to express the transition of human nature from innocence to brutality, as well as using the desert island as a microcosm of society and the world that we live in. The entire plot of the novel depicts the time period that a group of students spend on a desert island and shows their change from innocence and organization to complete disorientation, chaos and savageness. It also explains the concept of crowd mentality.


In the novel, there is a specific scene where one fighter plane is knocked down due to intense aerial bombardment, and a dead parachutist is seen coming down from the sky. This is one of the most significant parts in 'Lord of the Flies' since it carries an important historical reference: William Golding is using this particular event to deliver the message that outside the deserted island where the students were trapped in, a bigger global conflict was taking place, the Cold War. This is actually an example of Golding's imagined version of the conflict as an actual battle, which is in line with the phrase “the darkness of man's heart." This goes in line with the concept of conflict since it is the dark side of our psychological nature that brings an outbreak of disagreement and collision of interests, and this quotation displays the message that within basic human nature, various kinds of animalistic instincts and desires underlie, and it is this collision between interests and concerns which cause wars either at a national or international level.

In other words, the possible transition of human nature may come from an internal conflict, in a sense that men's fundamental instinct for survival and valuing innocence and goodness collide with each other in some extreme cases, like when the school children in the novel are completely left alone with no one older to look after them on a deserted island. In addition, the author uses the island as a microcosm of society and the world at the time: the dispute between Ralph's and Jack's tribe is indirectly representing the Cold War, a global battle between nations caused by different concerns and interests, accompanied by the strong, fundamental desire to expand their power by dominating foreign territories. In other words, Ralph’s tribe is representing the United States of America and other Western countries which maintained the political system of democracy and freedom, while Jack’s counterpart is representing the Soviet Union (now known as Russia) and other countries which had strong belief in communism and governed under strict dictatorial rule, oppressing basic human rights and democratic principles or values.


Bibliography: Primary Resource
- William Golding (1996). Lord of the Flies. London: Faber and Faber
Secondary Resource
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