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The Ecological Interpretation of Lord of the Flies

Author GuanXiaoHui
Tutor LiZhongHua
School Ocean University of China
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Ecocriticism Lord of the Flies Golding
CLC I561.074
Type Master's thesis
Year 2012
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Lord of the Flies tells the life experience of a group of English boys on atropical island. During an atomic war, the boys are marooned on the island after theirplane is shot down. In the beginning, the boys set rules and order on the island andbehave like civilized ones. They seem to live a harmonious and peaceful life. But it isnot long before they argue whether they should focus on watching fire. The boys splitinto two groups. The conflict between the two groups intensifies. Some of the boysbegin to reveal their evil nature and become more and more savage. Three boys arekilled by their fellows intentionally or not. In the end, a main character Ralph wipesfor the end of innocence and for the darkness of man’s heart.This thesis interprets Lord of the Flies from the ecocritical angle. It tries toanalyze the states of natural environment, society and man’s spirit on the island. Itaims to reflect the relationship between man and nature, the relationship between manand man, and the relationship between man and self that are conveyed in this novel. Ittries to uncover the ecological thinking of Golding’s in the hope of providing a newangle for the interpretation of Golding and his works.The thesis consists of five chapters. Chapter One is Introduction. It consists ofthree sections. The first section is an introduction to Golding and Lord of the Flies. Itpresents Golding’s life experience, his great achievements and the main plot of Lordof the Flies. The second section is about the critical reception of the novel home andabroad. The third section narrates the basic theories of ecological criticism and theframework of the thesis.Chapter Two analyzes the natural ecology in the novel from two aspects. Itdiscusses the harmony as well as the conflict between man and nature. Theharmonious relationship between man and nature is conveyed through Golding’s vividdescription of beauty of the island and Simon’s return to nature. The conflict betweenman and nature is reflected by the fact that the boys destroy the forest and kill wildanimals mercilessly on the island. From the contrast above it becomes evident thatGolding loves nature and he severely criticizes man’s ferocious behavior to nature.Chapter Three discusses the social ecology in Lord of the Flies. It is dividedinto three sections. The first section explores the release of evil in the small society. The second section traces the origin of the conflict between Jack and Ralph, whichimplies that the conflict between civilization and savagery is influential in socialsteadiness. The third section uncovers the irony on the salvation power of science.Lord of the Flies inspects the causes of social chaos. It is hoped that the analysis ofthe social ecology will provide some viewpoints for ecologists to understand andsolve today’s social problems.Chapter Four reflects the spiritual ecology, namely the relationship betweenman and self on the island. It borrows some ideas from Chinese professor Lu Shuyuanwho maintains that spiritual ecology also belongs to ecological studies in its broadermeaning. This chapter is subdivided into two parts. The first part analyzes thedistorted characters, which focuses on Ralph’s struggle and Simon’s marginalizedsocial status. The second part is concerned with the loss of homeland consciousnessand deviation of faith in the novel, which also involves destructive effect of that lossand deviation on man’s spiritual soundness.Chapter Five is the conclusive part of the whole thesis. It points out the mainfindings and implications of the thesis, limitations of present study, and suggestionsfor further research.

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