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Lord of the Flies Research Papers

A good research paper on Lord of the Flies attempts to present an analysis of William Golding’s novel, Lord of the Flies, in terms of its position on a set of topics pertaining to political science. Specifically, we look at the book in terms of what it has to say on the subjects of:

  1. Polity formation
  2. The breakdown of polity into anarchy
  3. The nature of and need for collective action
  4. The response of polities to perceived foreign threats

This is, I think, one of the most interesting aspects of this book.  I think that as an aid to understanding Golding’s view on this issue we may profit by contrasting it with the theory of the social contract.  This theory posits two things:

  1. A pre-political condition of mankind in which “individuals existed but no collectivity was in being ”
  2. The formation by covenant of a collectivity, this formation dictated by the fact that, in Rousseau’s words, “the only way they [individuals] can preserve themselves is by uniting their separate powers in a combination strong enough to overcome resistance, uniting them so that their powers are directed by single motive and act in concert .”

Golding’s point of view is somewhat more complex than this. The social contract assumes that in setting up the polis men act as rational agents; their motive for uniting stems from a consciousness that they will be better able to live and thrive if they cooperate with one another. Now in Golding’s novel that is certainly a part of the reason the boys form a government, but it is not the whole story.  There is no pre-political period on the island; as soon as the conch blows and they respond to its summons, they decide to unite. And their formation of a government is not on purely rational grounds, but seems to be something that is pre-rational, something organic to human nature. The “covenant” is “voted” in, but it is not a real, consciously arrived at covenant and Golding calls the voting a “toy.” It is a toy because it is merely a reflex based on the boy’s British background.

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