You might also be interested in other articles in the Literature Archives, including: Plot Summary of Animal Farm by George Orwell • Social Stratification and Class in Animal Farm • The Role of Government in “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding • The Role of Media in Society in 1984 by George Orwell • Consumption and Utopia in Brave New World by Aldous Huxley • Short Biography of George Orwell
William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” and George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” both rely upon allegory to render a scathing social commentary on particular aspects of society building projects. Although the characters in each of both ”Lord of the Flies” and Animal Farm attempt to create a functioning society in which everyone is equal, aiming for nothing less than a utopia of sorts, they possess serious character flaws which not only jeopardize their dreams, but also result in the creation of a dystopic and dysfunctional environment. Indeed, the outcome of ”Lord of the Flies” and Animal Farm is not simply that the society building project has failed, but rather that it has caused the disintegration of the very society which it sought to replace. Thus, the characters in “Animal Farm” by George Orwell and ”Lord of the Flies” by William Golding have nothing left to which they can return; some of the most important and loyal characters in each novel must die, while the futures of the remaining living characters are ambiguous.
Both novels, “Lord of the Flies by William Golding” and “Animal Farm” by George Orwell, involve the telling of tales about improbable scenarios, in the case of ”Lord of the Flies” by William Golding, and impossible scenarios, in the case of George Orwell. Nevertheless, the events and experiences of the characters in ”Lord of the Flies” and “Animal Farm” are intended to serve as lessons for contemporary readers about the dangers that are inherent in the desire to construct an ideal society. William Golding and George Orwell seem to insist that there is no such thing as an ideal society that can be built; rather, we are living in a society that is as adequate as it can be, for human nature does not permit true egalitarianism. The presence of a utopia in “Animal Farm” and “Lord of the Flies” is visible but often fleeting, thus it seems that both Orwell and Golding are trying to express that a utopia is idealistic and cannot truly exist in a permanent way.
Golding’s novel begins against the larger backdrop of a society that itself seems to be falling apart. The young boys who are the main characters in ”Lord of the Flies” by William Golding are conscious of the war that has been raging in Europe, and they even seem to believe it will last “a year or two” longer (Golding 72). Although the boys in ”Lord of the Flies” by William Golding rarely reference World War II directly, they both resist and appropriate the images, actions, and strategies of war in the society that they create. When they first take stock of their surroundings and of each other, the boys are determined to survive on the deserted island where they have been stranded. Initially, they are convinced that if they can organize themselves properly, assigning roles and responsibilities to each boy, that they will be able sustain themselves until their signals for help are recognized and the boys can be rescued. What they fail to recognize until much later is that the strategies that they use for building their small society mimic the strategies of the larger society, which have clearly not been effective and which have led to the war in which Europe was, at that time, embroiled.
Their society building project in “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding begins innocently enough. Recognizing the reality of their situation, namely, that they will not be rescued immediately, the boys understand that they must band together and use their skills collectively in order to simply survive. When they realize and remark in one of the important quotes from Lord of the Flies by William Golding that there are “No grownups!” (Golding 2) on the island, it becomes clear that no one can save them but themselves. The boys also recognize that devising an organized and structured set of roles and responsibilities is essential to their survival in a place that is so distinct from everything that they know. To this end, Ralph is selected as the general leader because the other boys are impressed that he has demonstrated ingenuity by calling them together with the conch shell. In addition to this position, Ralph appoints Jack to be the boy in charge of hunting and food gathering expeditions. The other boys are to play supporting roles in the day-to-day operations that will be required to keep them alive. As this thesis statement for Lord of the Flies by William Golding suggests,they are, in effect, the common citizens of this makeshift society.
Beyond establishing these roles in ”Lord of the Flies” by William Golding, however, the actual steps that are required to build a functional society are somewhat elusive for the boys, especially in the beginning. Initially, the boys are dizzied by the possibilities of creating their own society, but they do not know what is required of them to do so and they have no one to consult, so they spend the majority of their hours playing. This is particularly true for the “littleuns,” who “Apart from food and sleep… found time for play, aimless and trivial” (Golding 49). Before the stakes for their survival grew exponentially, the boys “accepted the pleasures of morning, the bright sun, the whelming sea and sweet air, as a time when play was good and life was so full that hope was not necessary and therefore forgotten” (Golding 48). Before they are confronted with the necessity of procuring food and supplies, they are sustained by “[T]he northern European tradition of work, play, and food right through the day, [which] made it possible for them to adjust themselves wholly to this new rhythm” (Golding 49).