Setting is the physical environment in which action occurs. It is a common literary element of every story. However, when it is used eloquently, it can be seen as brilliant device that aids in the development of a story. In the novel Lord of the Flies, the author, William Golding, focuses on depicting his setting in great detail. Throughout the novel, he utilizes the setting to motivate character behavior, foreshadow events that will take place, and also to represent the values held by the characters.
At the beginning of the novel, the characters discover that they are stranded on an island with no other humans. Since all of the characters are children, they are inexperienced on how to handle grave situations. Considering they are all by themselves, their environment forcefully arranges them into two groups. One of the groups is the hunters which will go out and kill animals for food. This group must be created, otherwise, all the characters shall die. The boy who will take on this challenge will be Jack. Jack, at the beginning of the novel, was a very considerate and caring.
An example of this takes place in chapter one where he is about to kill a pig but did not have the heart to do it. However as the novel proceeds, his environment, the forest, and his new role of hunter will change him to an uncaring, selfish savage. The other group that will co-exist is one that will stay behind and do non-violent work such as building huts or creating weapons.
As a result of having two groups within the whole, a leader must emerge in order to keep the two groups working efficiently. Since there is no adult on the island to take on the responsibility, the characters environment once again forces them to elect a leader. The person who is elected is Ralph. He is forced to be organized and insightful on how to keep everyone alive. This is shown through him organizing a way for people to voice their opinions in his meetings. It is also shown through him suggesting that they build shelter and appointing people to take on certain parts in that task. Golding also uses the setting in order to foreshadow events that will happen or actions of characters.
At the beginning of the novel, he illustrates the island in a fashion that makes it seem heavenly. This description makes the island too good to be true and the reader will realize that throughout the rest of the novel. Another example is when Golding starts out the chapter with Over the island the build-up of clouds continued. (pg. 145) Golding moves on to describe the storm in a very cryptic way.
He discusses the gusty wind, thunder and lightning and this makes the reader feel as if something wicked will happen. Oddly enough, something unfortunate does happen. The boys who were hunters were having a meeting and they saw a figure crawling in the forest. In reaction to this, they went to the forest and started beating the figure believing it was the beast, an animal, which they believed was trying to hinder their rescue. Instead they find out that they were actually beating their friend Simon. Unfortunately they beat him to death. These were two examples that display the way in which Golding used the setting to foreshadow events.Golding also used setting to delineate values and the state of mind of the characters.
For example, In chapter 5 the group splits up into two groups because Jack believed that Ralph was not qualified to be leader of the entire group and did not want to follow his orders. Therefore, the leader of one group was Ralph and the leader of the other group was Jack. Jacks group moved into the forest to live. Golding decides for that group to move there because that group is evil, and savagery. This is what most people believe to be the place where savages live and where the strongest kill the weak. He then has Ralph and his followers who are depicted as a little more benevolent and democratic live on the beach. Golding chose the beach because that is where the shelter was and all the supplies of the characters and meeting place.
Therefore, through these two environments it can be said that Golding depicted the two types of people savages or the ill of the human spirit and the civilized.The setting in the Lord of the Flies is quite significant in the development of the story. William Golding uses it to motivate character behavior, foreshadow events and represent his characters personalities. He did an excellent job in painting a setting that did more than play a background but a literary element that helped make the novel more entertaining.