Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

The Hired Girl

Laura Amy Schlitz

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8. Themes: Savagery

Lord of the Flies

William Golding, 1954
Famous for: The Beast, a talking pig’s head on a stake, a horrific descent into chaos and savagery.

Themes in literature Lord of the Flies | 60second Recap®In Lord of the Flies, William Golding cuts straight to the point: There’s a savage lurking within each of us. He wants you to know how that savage gets out.

That’s why two major themes in Lord of the Flies are…well, watch this Recap and find out.


Something to consider when you read Lord of the FliesThe author, William Golding, wasn’t much of an optimist, not when it came to humanity’s…well, humanity. Just look at the themes he developed here.

What happens when the savage gets out.  60second Book Review: Paper Covers Rock.You can think of Golding’s main themes as two different, but related, sets of contrasts: 

Civilization versus savagery. And Innocence versus experience.

If you’ve been watching since our Recap 1: Introduction to a Mad World, you know that Lord of the Flies is an allegory.

The civilization/savagery theme in this allegory is played out by the relationship between Ralph and Jack. The conflict between those two boys develops into a symbol of the conflict Golding sees taking place within the psyche of each and every human being. It’s a fight that pits the instinct toward order, toward caring for one another, against the primal instinct of anarchy and impulse.

What happens as we give in to impulse? That’s theme two—the loss of innocence.

In Golding’s telling, that loss of innocence comes when we surrender to the savagery, the evil,  innate in each human being.

Pretty bleak stuff. Yes, the themes in Lord of the Flies suggest that Golding might not have held out much hope for the human race.

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