Publication Date

Spring 5-26-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (MA)



Committee Chair

Dr. Kaitlyn M. Culliton

Committee Member

Jonathan W. Murphy

Committee Member

Paul J. Niemeyer

Committee Member

Deborah L. Blackwell


William Golding’s Lord of the Flies (1954) is a paradoxical novel that highlights a constant conflict stemming from the inner-self of human nature promoted by the setting. Because adults often resemble children in many aspects and most of the time they don’t know what to do or make poor decisions, Golding formed his characters to be pre-adolescent children as a means to subtly point at humanity’s self-destructive traits. Therefore, if readers recognize the state of the boys’ morality, if they understand that they, like people, are imperfect beings, and if they acknowledge that they are prone to immorality, could they still walk a straight moral path? The focus in this thesis is the issue of morality and the duality of humans when encountering dire situations, as is in the case of the stranded boys on a deserted island. By examining William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, humans gain insight into the crux of immorality in mankind by specifically looking at the characters’ behaviors and particular scenes. Moreover, this analysis will mainly employ rationales by psychologists Philip Zimbardo and Albert Bandura to illustrate the moral consciousness of the characters in their quandary in both positive and negative ways. In this approach, I contend that the novel’s isolated killing scenes and characters’ motivation show morality and the lack of it in order to not only understand and empathize with the boys’ plight, but also impart reflection of people’s true selves and redress their inward antagonism and antagonism toward others. Essentially, in this study, I propose to ultimately achieve a resolution that despite the cruelty evident in both our world and the world in Lord of the Flies, there is still an optimism that humanity can overpower evil, that there is a chance for the human species to not eradicate itself and instead create a harmonious relationships amongst ourselves and in the present time. This analysis, then, will deliberate Golding’s pessimistic view of human nature, and examine Zimbardo’s view of human nature to consider whether the boys on the island are indeed saved.