Is Lord of the Flies unrealistic? (Answered)

Is Lord of the Flies unrealistic

William Golding’s 1954 novel “Lord of the Flies” has been a staple of high school literature curriculums for decades. The book depicts a group of British schoolboys who become stranded on an uninhabited island and quickly descend into savagery and violence. But is Lord of the Flies unrealistic?

In his 2019 book “Humankind,” Dutch historian Rutger Bregman challenges the realism of Golding’s portrayal. Bregman argues that Golding’s lack of knowledge of behavioral science and his own biases as an author makes his portrayal of the boys’ behavior on the island highly unlikely. This article will explore Bregman’s claims and examine whether “Lord of the Flies” is truly unrealistic or if the book accurately reflects the darker aspects of human nature.

Is Lord of the Flies unrealistic? (Complete Answer)

In his 2019 book “Humankind,” Bregman argues that Golding’s portrayal of the boys’ behavior is unrealistic because he had no knowledge of behavioral science and was hardly an impartial judge of children’s propensities. In fact, Golding himself acknowledged that he had no experience with children and was primarily interested in exploring the darker aspects of human nature. Bregman suggests that Golding’s lack of expertise and personal biases led him to overestimate the boys’ propensity for violence and underestimate their capacity for cooperation.

Moreover, Bregman notes that there are numerous real-life examples of people who have been stranded in similar situations to the boys in “Lord of the Flies” and have not descended into savagery. For example, in 1965, a group of schoolboys from Tonga became stranded on a deserted island for over a year and managed to survive by working together and maintaining a sense of community. Bregman argues that this example, and others like it, challenge Golding’s assumption that people are inherently violent and selfish.

However, while Bregman’s critique of Golding’s portrayal of human nature is compelling, it is worth noting that “Lord of the Flies” is a work of fiction, not a scientific study. Golding’s goal was not to provide a realistic portrayal of how people would behave in a particular situation but to explore the darker aspects of human nature in a symbolic and allegorical way.

Furthermore, it is not difficult to find real-life examples of violence and conflict, even in situations where people are expected to cooperate and work together. In times of crisis, people often become more tribal and more likely to turn on each other, as evidenced by countless examples throughout history.

How does Lord of the Flies relate to the real world?

Lord of the Flies relates to the real world by exploring the idea of human evil, which is partly influenced by Golding’s experience with the violence and brutality of World War II. The novel warns against the dangers of groupthink and mob mentality, as seen in the brutal descent into savagery of a group of well-behaved, civilized boys stranded on an uninhabited island. Golding’s depiction of the boys, who are initially full of hope and cooperation but eventually turn on each other, highlights the innate darkness that can exist within human beings. Lord of the Flies demonstrates that even in the absence of authority and civilization, people still have a responsibility to act humanely towards each other. The themes presented in the novel are still relevant today, as they warn against the dangers of unchecked power and encourage us to examine the true nature of human nature.

Is Lord of the Flies an accurate representation of human nature?

Lord of the Flies is a fictitious literary work that offers an allegorical representation of human nature. The novel portrays an intriguing view of how individuals behave in a society where the rules and regulations of a civilized community are absent. The human tendencies exhibited in the book, such as aggression, violence, and savagery, are not necessarily typical of all individuals and societies. However, Lord of the Flies is an excellent work of fiction that provides an engaging and thought-provoking reflection on the dark side of human nature.

Why is Lord of the Flies so controversial?

Lord of the Flies is controversial because of disturbing passages from the book that involve graphic images of violence. The book portrays children turning on each other and engaging in brutal violence, which can be difficult for some readers to stomach. The book also raises questions about the nature of humanity and whether humans are inherently good or evil. Some people find these themes unsettling or even offensive. Despite its controversial nature, Lord of the Flies is considered a classic of modern literature. The novel has sparked numerous debates and discussions about its meaning and relevance to contemporary society.


In conclusion, while it is true that Golding’s portrayal of human nature in “Lord of the Flies” may not be entirely realistic, the book is not meant to be a scientific study of human behavior. Rather, it is a work of fiction that uses symbolism and allegory to explore the darker aspects of human nature. Additionally, while there are certainly examples of people cooperating and working together in times of crisis, there are also countless examples of violence and conflict. Ultimately, the question of whether “Lord of the Flies” is unrealistic or not is a matter of interpretation. The book’s enduring popularity is a testament to its ability to provoke thought and discussion about the human condition.

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