Lord of the Flies, the most outstanding work written by William Golding, is both a coming-of-age and allegorical novel about a group of British boys at the age of six to twelve trapped in a desolate island. Initially, they attempt to rule themselves; but later they split into two opposing factions due to the fear of the supposed “beast”. Gradually, the irrational and ruthless leadership suppresses the reasonable and civilized one, thus eventually leading to a disastrous result. In an allegorical sense, the theme is mainly the conflict between human desires toward living peacefully and harmoniously within the rules of civilized society and toward the will to gain power. Themes include the conflicts between original sin and original goodness, between reason and irrationality, between individualism and community, and between civilization and savagery.
This paper mainly consists of five parts. The first part is about a brief introduction of William Golding and Lord of the Flies. The second part is about the significance and structure of the paper as well as the studies on Lord of the Flies at home and abroad. The third part is about the introduction of Milgram’s experiment on obedience and its relevance to the novel. The following part is the main part, which is about the clarification of the effect of authority on obedience and the dreadful dangers caused by blind conformity in the case of Lord of the Flies and Milgram Experiment respectively. In this part, there will be analysis of the influence of situation or surrounding on the behavior of the characters. Moreover, there will also be some illustrations of the reason why the authority goes astray combined with mindless obedience to that authority is able to make an inhumane society and even result in genocide. In terms of the last part, it is about the conclusion basing on the above analysis to get the theme of this paper that misleading authority and unquestioning obedience can give rise to perils.
Key Words: Lord of the Flies; authority; blind obedience; perils
1 Introduction 1
2 Literary Review 3
2.1 Significance and Structure 4
2.2 Studies on Lord of the Flies at Home and Abroad 4
3 Milgram Experiment and Its Relevance to the Novel 6
3.1 Milgram Experiment 6
3.2 Its Relevance to the Novel 7
4 Perils of Blind Obedience 9
4.1 Perils of Blind Obedience in Milgram Experiment 9
4.2 Perils of Blind Obedience in Lord of the Flies 10
5 Conclusion 14
On the Perils of Blind Obedience in
Lord of the Flies
Winning both the Booker Prize in1980 and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1983, the works of William Golding have deeply touched people around the world and are read in dozens of languages. What’s more, his masterpiece Lord of the Flies still remains a global popularity. This story is derived from Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and R. M. Ballantyne’s The Coral Island. In this book, as well as in his many other books, his purpose was to explore into the darkest part of human heart and reveal the evil of human nature. Golding held a rather strong pessimistic view towards human nature largely due to his experience of the war which led to a drastic shift in his viewpoint about humanity. He held the view that modern civilization, the institutions and order were fragile and temporary, and that oppositely the irrationality and inborn wickedness of human kind were strong and enduring.
The story starts on a tropical island. The survivors of a plane crash who are a group of British kids at the age of six to twelve during an atomic war, attempt to create a provisional society by themselves while they are waiting for rescue. At the beginning, a conch shell that can create commanding noise is used by the voted leader Ralph to summon the other boys for meetings and meanwhile a series of rules are set up.
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