Golding’s Use of Myths in Lord of the Flies  Cover Image

Golding’s Use of Myths in Lord of the Flies
Golding’s Use of Myths in Lord of the Flies

Author(s): Mohit K. Ray
Subject(s): Literary Texts

Summary/Abstract: Andrew Sanders writes in The Short Oxford History of English Literature: “Golding emerged as a major successor to an established line of modernist mythopoeists. Unlike Yeats, Eliot, Joyce, Jones, however, he was not content with a reanimation of ancient myth; he was intent on overturning and superseding a variety of modern rationalist formulations and on replacing them with charged, unorthodox moral shapes” (595). In his Lord of the Flies (1954), a landmark postwar novel in English, William Golding introduces several motifs which invite us to recall ancient myths. In this story of a bunch of boys, who – on being suddenly cut off from adult civilization and thrown into extreme isolation – quickly slide back to atavism, primitivism, and homicide, Golding subtly evokes the Biblical myths of the Fall – sibling rivalry – hell as well as the Greek myth of the two gods – Apollo and Dionysus – representing the rational and irrational life-principles respectively. Golding weaves various mythical strands into the texture of his novel to substantiate his vision. Some of these are: the evocation of the cult of beast-god, the performance of the act of hunting as a magic ritual, the beheading and dismemberment of the victim (first of a pig, eventually of the boy Piggy) the elaborate Biblical and Hellenic resonances etc. Then there are myths which Golding brings under critical scrutiny mainly to demolish. The imperial myth that a group of public school British boys, like the boys of The Coral Island, were capable of creating a civilized world in any situation, and the romantic myth that children were incarnations of innocence, are the two major myths that Golding systematically explodes.

  • Issue Year: XIII/2008
  • Issue No: 13
  • Page Range: 364-373
  • Page Count: 10
  • Language: English