As opposed to utopian novels which assert that mankind is perfect and flawless and a society free of hardship and misery is possible, dystopian novels maintain that societal inequality and injustices are unavoidable. This genre of fiction grew famous during the twentieth century novels like Orwell’s “Animal Farm” and “1984” depicted visionary worlds filled with cruelty, suppression, and disorder.
Why is “Lord of the Flies” a dystopian novel?
Golding’s novel “Lord of the Flies” is a dystopian novel because its characters live in a horrific, and brutal society due to their inherent wickedness and evil. At first, the setting of the novel seems as an Edenic utopia, with plentiful fruit, water and pleasing seaside, but eventually it evolves into a dystopian island where the schoolboys are starving, unwashed, afraid of the unknown monster and dominated by a barbarous leader. Generally in dystopian novels, novelists use horror, uncertainty, and often cruelty to warn readers about the risk of absolutism. In a dystopian novel, the key idea is that societies can never be absolutely complete.
Golding’s novel “Lord of the Flies” depicts a distressing truth
The story revolves around a group of schoolboys who are stranded on a tropical island and their useless endeavor to form a civilized society. As the time goes, their inherent evil and wicked nature become apparent and they nearly end up demolishing the island and each other. Peter Green aptly states that the novel depicts a slow reversion to the primeval and “bloodthirsty savagery”. The boys separate into two groups: one headed by Ralph whose leadership represents democracy and the other headed by Jack whose leadership represents absolutism. Because of their conflicting ideals, a struggle between the group soon explodes, Ralph’s companions, Piggy and Simon, are killed, Eric and Sam become part of Jack’s side. Ralph, thereby, initially turns out to be a displaced then a scapegoat. Ralph is chased like an animal by Jack’s group. Later Jack ignites the island with the purpose of smoke Ralph out of it. In some way, Ralph was able to get away. A British naval officer spots smoke in the jungle, luckily for Ralph, arrives with a rescue team and rescues him and other boys. The novel ends with the pitiful image of Ralph’s crying for “the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy” (248).
The society formed under Jack’s rule on the island is regarded as a dystopia. Jack’s motives, ideas, and actions are evil and monstrous. Extreme desire for power and authority in both Ralph and Jack cause them to eventual conflict. The demonstration of animosity in the clash between Ralph and Jack has a tinge of hostility throughout, which aids to present the dystopian aspect of the novel.
Uncertainty and chaos in “Lord of the Flies”
In “Lord of the Flies” uncertainty and chaos rule over the world in which the hero, Ralph, lives. Ralph’s actions demonstrate that he is an idealist rather than a performer of his actions. Ralph, who signifies decent, broad-minded leadership, is also troubled by indecision and incapacity to express his belief, or even think with clarity at critical moments. One of his obvious mistakes is to summon an assembly to discuss about the horror with the “littl’uns”. Once Ralph loses power over his boys, he never-again manages to continue his position with certainty. Ralph is left completely alone after losing his authority to Jack, and helpless to regain any extent of moral and physical power to counter the barbarity and chaos of Jack’s group.
Reign of Evil:
In Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” the rules of the adult world secondarily reign over those boys’ island. No one is free from evil adult behaviors. The law and order that the boys obeyed in the island are like those hitherto followed in the adult world, laws that have changed the world into chaos. The island directly represents the adult world. The boys follow the design of the way of living they were educated in the adult world. They assert, “We will have rules…Lots of rules”(44). Everyone has to follow the rules and if someone violates the rules then he will get punishment. So the world in which the boys live is full of adult vices such as extreme desire for power and authority and servitude.
Jack as a merciless leader:
The harsh, aggressive society created on the island is a representative of a dystopia, where boys are tyrannized, live in horror, and often confront abuses. In this dystopian society, Jack governs as a merciless dictator, who is devoted to hunting pigs and involved in brutal behavior. Jack is the head of disorderly and anarchic society, where powerless, simple, and defenseless boys are murdered. Simon is severely murdered, Piggy is also killed,, Eric and Sam become part of Jack’s side and Ralph is chased like an animal by Jack’s group. The other younger boys do not have personal rights, they are all afraid of Jack and his power. The terrifying, aggressive territory that Jack creates on the island is a perfect illustration of dystopia.
“Lord of the Flies” portrays the innate wickedness in man that gives rise to deterioration and death. The most important part of a man’s fall is the absolute denial of moral and spiritual beliefs in life. The life of the boys in the novel is closed out in an environment of hypocrisy and artificiality. Golding through this novel puts forward his own dreary view of human nature and society. Thereby we can say that Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” is certainly a dystopian novel.
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