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Tyler Beverley
Ms. Sandberg
AP Literature

Author Research Study: Part I Historical Research

On the 19th of September, 1911 husband Alex Golding, and wife Mildred Golding
gave birth to a William Gerald Golding. William Golding notorious author of Lord of the Flies
was a British novelist, Nobel laureate, and WWII veteran. Golding is well established as an
English novelist and playwright, some notable awards are his 1983 Nobel Prize in literature, and
his 1980 Brooker prize. William Goldings father, Alex Golding, was a science teacher at
Marlborough Grammar School, where his son also happened to attend (Britannica online).
William was a complex man of extraordinary talent. Looking at his personal life might help us
understand his writing process, and why he wrote about certain topics.

Williams parents had a huge influence on him. His father encouraged him to do many
things including music, Yes, my father was very musical, and music plays quite a large part in
my life. I play the piano passionately and inaccurately. Indeed, I worked out the other day that of
my seventy-five years; I have spent at least one year sitting on a piano stool. (Scott, MaryLynn).
However, music wasnt the only thing that Alex Golding wanted William Golding to do. William
Goldings father wanted him to become a scientist. William Golding attended Oxford in London,
he studied natural sciences for his first two years however, and he graduated in 1935 with a
Bachelor of Arts degree (William Golding). He went on to become a teacher just like his

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father. He taught English before WWII in 1939 and after the war from 1945 to 1962. Its worth
noting that his observation of rowdy young boys as a teacher helped serve as inspiration for Lord
of the Flies.

Golding wouldve continued his academic career if it wasnt for the time period he was
born into. Golding joined the fight in WWII in 1940. He joined the English navy, and notably
involved with the sinking of the German flagship Bismarck and the invasion of Germancontrolled France during D-Day. He spent most of 7 years of service on a ship at sea, and his
experience started a love with the sea and its adventure. He has said that WWII was the most
influential event that affected his writing. (William Golding). "When I was young, before the
war, I did have some airy-fairy views about man.... But I went through the war and that changed
me. The war taught me different and a lot of others like me (Historical Context), the war shaped
Goldings view on human nature. He saw men commit many atrocities and such has convinced
him that the nature of most men is evil, this is seen prominently in Goldings themes in his novel
Lord of the Flies. While teaching and after he retired Golding continued to write, all the way up
to his death. Some other notable works include The Inheritors (1955), Incher Martin (1956), The
Spire (1964), and the To the Ends of the Earth (1980-1989) trilogy.

William Golding was a very religious man. He was a Christian, and it is unsure if his
family had any influence on this. Golding tells about his faith during his Nobel acceptance
speech and gives praise to his God, Glory Be to God in the highest. You will get no reductive
pessimism from me (Nobel speech). He believes in the idea of Creationism which basically is
the religiously influenced theory that that God (or Any Supreme being) created us and this

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planet. This theory is often compared against the theory of Evolution. If there was no beginning
then infinite time has already passed and we could never have got to the moment where we are
(Nobel Speech), he is making the claim that someone had to set the gears of the universe into
motion otherwise, nothing would be real, because it never started. Golding makes his religious
values known, as he usually incorporates religious symbols into his books.

Lord of the Flies was the novel that sent William Golding on his way onto literary
success. His book sold more than 10 million copies, and his book was taught in schools across
the English world. Lord of the Flies is a literary phenomenon; the title is instantly recognizable
as a synonym for societal breakdown (William Golding). The book is so popular mostly for
Goldings novel and pessimistic stance on human nature. William Golding got the idea to
incorporate his Philosophy into a novel After reading a bedtime boys adventure story to his
small children, Golding wondered out loud to his wife whether it would be a good idea to write
such a story but to let the characters behave as they really would. His wife thought that would
be a first class idea. (Exploring Novels). He says that he often times tries to tell truths in his
novels, and he hopes that the truth has a general application rather than just a specific one. He
describes Lord of the Flies as "an attempt to trace the defects of society back to the defects of
human nature (Baker, James). Whether you agree or not, his work has had a profound
influence on the literary world.

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William Golding Research Study: Part II Major Criticism

William Golding is a very religious man, as shown by the historical research, and
religious symbolism can be found throughout his works. The extent that religion has influenced
Lord of the Flies is questionable however. Many critics connect the original sin of Adam and Eve
to Golding's novel. Not for adultery, but "for the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart"
(Golding, 202). Just like how Adam and Eve destroyed the innocence of mankind, Ralph had
witnessed the death of innocent English boys, and the birth of savages. In a religious sense the
end of innocence would've been caused by a devil, or in the case of Lord of the Flies, a beast.
The entire fable suggests a grim parallel with the prophecies of the Biblical
Apocalypse. According to that vision, the weary repetition of human failure is
assured by the birth of new Devils for each generation of men. The first demon,
who fathers all the others, falls from the heavens; the second is summoned from
the sea to make war upon the saints and overcome them; the third, emerging from
the earth itself, induces man to make and worship an image of the beast. (Baker,
It is interesting to note that the chapter where we begin to see changes in the boys 5, and 6 are
called "Beast from water", and "Beast from Air" in that order. The way Golding words those two
chapters might lead the reader to believe that he might be referring to the Devils in the Biblical
Apocalypse. However, it isn't clear what the third devil is. Golding may have left it up to the
reader to decide, or he could've not meant to allude to the Bible at all, and the critics
acknowledge that they could be grabbing at straws when it comes to the religious importance in
Lord of the Flies.

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One of the criticism I read brought up some information about William Golding that
seemed to be ignored by the other literary critics. "I have a confession to make. The love affair
of my life has been with the Greek language"(Scott, MaryLynn), Golding's favorite author was
Homer, and is often reading Greek texts. A fan of Euripidess poems, one of his favorites was
called "The Bacchae. The Bacchae tells the tale of Dionysus, not the Roman Dionysus you
know as the, carefree god of wine, but rather the Greek Dionysus of animal sprit, and savage
instinct. Dionysuss power is "To liberate the instinctive life in man from the bondage imposed
upon it by reason and social custom (Baker, James). Dionysus holds power over men to bring
out the savage instincts out of them, and the story ends with Dionysus creating riots and
destroying any kind of recognizable society in the story.

The thing about Dionysus that is different than the religious criticism is that Dionysus
creates evil that is dormant in every man, rather than the religious view where evil is derived
from the Devil. We can see this dynamic when the beast starts to talk to Simon, `Fancy thinking
the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!' `You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you?
Close, close, close! I'm the reason why it's no go? Why things are as they are?'" (Golding 143).
Even Simon who represents everything good about mankind had felt the beast inside himself. We
can also see the beast inside Ralph. At times he let the boys savagery come over himself. Even
our protagonist wasnt immune to evil brought about from the forces in Lord of the Flies. The
Beast is an interesting theme in Lord of the Flies. The Beast and the concept of evil is very vague
and open to personal interpretation in the novel, so naturally there are several, completely
different criticisms on the theme.

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One of the more interesting concepts the literary critics brought up was a possible
allegory to Sigmund Freuds psychology. Golding never spoke much on the topic of psychology,
however given the time frame of when Golding wrote Lord of the Flies it wouldnt be too
surprising. These Freudian analysts take Freuds theory on human consciousness, where there
is Id (Unconscious needs, desires, and impulses), the Ego (Meditator between superego and Id),
and of course the Superego (Conscious thoughts, and decision making) and believe that the three
main characters, Jack, Piggy, and Ralph play these roles of consciousness. Freudian analysts
would have Piggy stand as superego, but he is extremely id-directed toward food: it is Ralph who
must try to hold him back from accepting Jack's pig meat (Oldsey, Bern) Oldsey here
recognizes the Freudian theory in Lord of the Flies, but then immediately debunks the theory, he
points out that Piggy acts rather instinctively when it comes to food, thus no longer serving the
role of superego. Jack is supposed to represent the Id, as shown by his savage instincts and
Ralph is believed to be the Ego, who is the mediator between Piggy(Superego) and Jack (Id).
Ralph, Piggy, and Jack all fit into the theory, but the question is where does Simon fit, which part
of the conscious would he be? The Freudian concept is interesting, and should be noted that the
Id (Jack) symbolically destroyed society on the island and is the victor in the battle between Id
and Superego.

Most of the literary criticisms I read the authors pointed out a connection between R. M.
Ballantyne's novel The Coral Island: A Tale of the Pacific Ocean (1858) and William Golding's
notorious Lord of the Flies. In this book three English boys are stranded on an island, similar to
the premise in Lord of the Flies. The boys names are Ralph, Jack, and Peterkin, Ralph and Jack

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are also major characters in Lord of the Flies. "In Coral Island, Three English boys are
shipwrecked on a tropical island, meet pirates and cannibals, and conquer all adversities with
English fortitude and Christian virtue" (Hynes, Samuel) Where these two tales differ is the
morality of the boys on the island. The Coral Island tells a story where the boys convert a pack
of savage, cannibalistic pirates (who inhibit the island) into moral men with Christian virtue,
"The three boys are rational, self-reliant, inventive, and virtuousin short, they are like no boys
that anyone has ever known" (Hynes, Samuel). Hynes brings the fictional boys into reality, he
explains how the events in The Coral Island are unrealistic. Golding knew this all too well after
his experience in WWII. The Coral Island is often cited as inspiration for Golding to write Lord
of the Flies, which could even be considered Golding's criticism of Ballantyne's work. Golding
actually alludes to The Coral Island at the end of the novel, when the naval officer comes to the
island and is confronted by the group of boys he says "I should have thought that a pack of
British boysyou're all British aren't you?would have been able to put up a better show than
that"(Golding 201-202). Maybe the naval officer had read The Coral island? Golding is making
a statement here that what people generally think would happen is misguided.
There are some literary critics that influenced my own analysis more than some of the
others did. Specifically, James Bakers analysis on Dionysus, and how evil can be found in all of
us helped me create my ideas on where Goldings evil came from. While I disagreed with his
thoughts on Goldings religious views, I re-examined it, and incorporated his religious views in a
different way then how James Baker did. Also I disagreed with the Freudian theory that Bern
Oldstey brought up. I dont think that the theory was very plausible, and strayed away from that
in my literary analysis.

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William Golding Research Study: Part III Literary Analysis

A group of boys are stranded on a deserted island together. They are free of the social
norms of their old society of which they have been severed from, no parents, no teachers, no
adults, and most importantly no rules. The only thing they have is their instincts, do they band
together to create a new society, and attempt to be rescued, or do they accept their fate on the
island and allow their savage instincts rule their behaviors. This is one of the questions William
Golding uses in his well-known classic Lord of the Flies. William Golding was a veteran of
WWII, is a Nobel Laureate in the subject of Literature, and is mostly known for his novel Lord
of the Flies. William Goldings life experience living in England, and then fighting in WWII
helped shape his writing style in several different works including; Lord of the Flies, his Nobel
acceptance speech, and his poem Non-Philosophers Song, his life influenced his symbolism,
perspective on human nature, and his religious views in his works.

London England, September 7th, 1940; Bombings from the Germans start, they continue
night and day during WWII (BBC). William Golding lived in England at this time (Historical
Context) and witnessed the Germans absolute savagery as they destroyed the only civilized
society that Golding ever knew. There are parallels between Goldings real life destruction of
society and his fictional account of the destruction of society in a group of boys who are stranded
on an island in his novel Lord of the Flies. In the novel, the Protagonist, Ralph finds a conch
shortly after being stranded on an island with a group of boys. We can use this to call the others.
Have a Meeting. Theyll come when they hear us (Pg. 16) Ralph will use the conch to gather

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the boys who are stranded on the island, in turn creating their own little society. The Conch is
what enables the boys to create their society, so Golding uses the Conch to symbolize order and
civilized society. As long as the boys respect the power of the Conch, they are a functional
society and work towards being saved. Indeed they do attempt to create a society with rules
reminiscent of their old country, "We've got to have rules and obey them. After all, we're not
savages. We're English, and the English are best at everything" (Golding 42), they make one rule
that says that the person who is holding the conch is the only one allowed to speak. However, as
the novel progresses, the reader can see an obvious trend of disregard for the rules, and the
Conch. Jack exemplifies this behavior the most saying, Conch! Conch! We dont need the conch
anymore (page 100&101). Later on as the group of boys become more savage and start to break
off into fractions the conch is destroyed completely, effectively symbolizing the destruction of
society. The destruction of the Conch is similar to how the Germans destroyed Goldings society,
the symbolism that the conch holds draws parallels to his experience during WWII.

After the terror, savageness and abnormal destruction of WWI, Europe was in fear of another
war on that scale. They did everything they could to prevent it. However, as we all probably
know that wasnt the case, once again the German nation raised up to challenge the sovereignty
of several European countries. WWII began September 1, 1939 (BBC). Golding believes that
this savagery, which the Germans exhibited in both World Wars can be found in each and every
one of us. Ultimately fear is what drove the Germans to fight in both world wars, similar to how
fear leads to the destruction of the boys society in Lord of the Flies. The younger boys of the
group believe they have seen a mighty beast.
"Tell us about the snake-thing."

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"Now he says it was a beastie."
"A snake-thing. Ever so big. He saw it."
"He says the beastie came in the dark." (Golding 36)
The beast while not real, creates fear in the boys and that fear leads them to destroy their own
society. Their fear makes the violence that the beast threatens real when Jack sticks a head of a
pig on top of a spear, This head is for the beast. It's a gift." (8.224). At this point, Jack shows
little to no civility. He has become savage. The death of social norms and the birth of savageness
can be seen best in the character Roger from the Lord of the Flies who at the end of the novel
arguably exhibits the most savageness out of all the boy on the island.
Roger gathered a handful of stones and began to throw them. Yet there was a
space round Henry, perhaps six yards in diameter, into which he dare not throw.
Here, invisible yet strong, was the taboo of the old life. Round the squatting child
was the protection of parents and school and policemen and the law. (Golding 62)
Here we see a battle between savage and civilized instincts. Rogers primitive savageness is
shown in his wanting to throw rocks at Henry, but the social norms from his old life still affect
him. We can see Rogers civilized instincts dominating his savage instincts. As the book goes on
Rogers savage instincts become stronger, he kills Piggy who symbolizes reason and crushes the
Conch, which symbolizes civility. After destroying any remnants of what creates order, his
savagery at this point dominates any kind of civilized instinct. The beast is what drove the boys
to violence out of fear.

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William Golding has a particular perspective on the human battle between good and evil.
Under some critical interrogation I named myself a universal pessimist but a cosmic optimist
(Nobel Speech). After doing some self-reflection Golding identifies himself as a universal
pessimist, which in his mind the universe is the general nature of humans, their battle of Good
and Evil. He is pessimistic about the universe because he thinks that the evil side of men will win
out over the righteous. Golding admits his pessimism in an interview, "When I was young, before
the war, I did have some airy-fairy views about man.... But I went through the war and that
changed me. The war taught me different and a lot of others like me," (Scott, MaryLynn). Its
clear the impact that WWII had on Golding, we can see how the war affected his perspective on
human nature in his novel Lord of the Flies, most prominently shown the death of Simon. Simon
who Golding uses to symbolize the good in human nature doesnt seem to be affected by the evil
savagery that afflicts the other boys. Simon is always kind to the younger kids, and can be seen
acting morally thought the book. Golding is figuratively showing us the destruction of good by
evil when the boys kill Simon. The boys chant Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood
(Golding 152) ruthlessly as Golding reveals his pessimism on human nature through Simon's
symbolic death.

Even though Golding believes that we will eventually become our own destruction, he
doesnt say we were hopeless. His religious views offer an interesting contradiction. He
identifies as a Cosmic Optimist, the cosmos being representative of the power a religious God.
"I am optimistic when I consider the spiritual dimension which the scientist's discipline forces
him to ignore." (Nobel Speech), He believes that despite humans nature to be evil there is hope
in a higher power. We can see similarities in WWII, the Allied forces for a long time thought that

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the fight was hopeless, they had lost hope for the good of mankind and they needed nothing short
of a miracle for them to turn the tide. Thankfully, there were granted that miracle, for Golding
who was a captain of a rocket-propelled ship during the war (Historical context), this miracle
mightve seemed divine. Along with Goldings belief in a higher power he believes that higher
power is what created us and the universe, as he explains here "If there was no beginning then
infinite time has already passed and we could never have got to the moment where we are"
(Nobel Speech). He explains that there had to be a set beginning, and something had to put the
beginning in motion if we are even to be real. This is a very interesting concept when you
consider his pessimism of human nature. He suggests that Humans were created, but they were
created imperfect. This may help Golding explain why WWII ever even happened because we
were not created to be perfect. Our imperfections show our dependency on a higher power. He
counters mans natural savagery with the divine righteousness of a higher power.

One tries to tell a truth, and one hopes that the truth has a general application rather than
just a specific one. (Scott, MaryLynn) William Golding wants to revel truths for all to see in his
novels. For which hes done quite a spectator job, as shown by his popularity and awards given
him. Lord of the Flies, "The non-Philosopher's song", and Golding's Nobel speech provides an
interesting symbolism, perspective, and religious views that was set up by Goldings experience
in WWII.

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Works Cited
Baker, James R. "Why It's No Go." DISCovering Authors. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Student
Resources in Context. Web. 8 Mar. 2016
BBC. "Germany Bombs London." BBC History. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2016.
<>. Editors. "William Golding Biography." The Website. A&E
Television Networks, n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2016.
Biticanica Online "Sir William Golding." Britannica School. Encyclopdia Britannica, Inc.,
2016. Web. 23 Apr. 2016.
Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. New York: Penguin, 2003. Print.
"Historical Context: Lord of the Flies." EXPLORING Novels. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Student
Resources in Context. Web. 15 Mar. 2016.
Hynes, Samuel. "William Golding's `Lord of the Flies'." DISCovering Authors. Detroit: Gale,
2003. Student Resources in Context. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.
Nobel Speech The Nobel Prize in Literature 1983". Nobel Media AB 2014.
Web. 23 Apr 2016.
Oldsey, Bern, and Stanley Weintraub. "Lord of the Flies: Beezlebub Revisited." EXPLORING
Novels. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Student Resources in Context. Web. 8 Mar. 2016.

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Scott, MaryLynn (1990). Universal Pessimist, Cosmic Optimist: William Golding. Aurora
"William Golding." EXPLORING Novels. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Student Resources in Context.
Web. 4 Apr. 2016.
William Golding." William Golding. William Golding Limited, n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2016.