Social Isolation in Lord of the Flies by William Golding

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In Lord of the Flies by William Golding, a group of young english boys crash onto an unknown island, stranded with no hope of being rescued during WWII. Learning to live without rules and adult leadership, the boys realize they have become completely isolated from the outside world. Their minds go to places that were forbidden in their ordinary society. Isolation takes a big role in Lord of the Flies, this causes them to lose civilization and become extremely fearful. The societal standards often causes them to act in a specific way, including savagely and ferociously. There are many negative effects of social and mental isolation.

Social isolation is when one is either partially or completely separated from society. Social isolation can be shown when Jack downgrades Piggy. Jack thinks of himself as superior to all, especially Piggy. Jack shuts Piggy out when Piggy says, “‘We haven’t made a fire,’ he said, ‘what’s any use. We couldn’t keep a fire like that going, not if we tried.’ ‘A fat lot you tried,’ said Jack contemptuously. ‘You just sat’” (Golding 57). Golding makes Jack seem stuck-up as he disparages Piggy, and he segregates Piggy from the rest of the group.

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According to Frank McAndrew, isolation causes oneself to be in agitation because “when we go through a trying ordeal alone, a lack of emotional support and friendship can increase our anxiety and hinder our coping ability” (McAndrew). When one lacks in reassurance, it gets tougher to survive and it feels as if there is no way to avoid the feeling of being alone. Jack just caused Piggy to be socially isolated which resulted in the whole group to exclude him. When Piggy tried to give the group some advice, “all the boys except Piggy started to giggle; presently they were shrieking with laughter. Piggy lost his temper. ‘I got the conch! Just you listen!’” (Golding 62).

No one was listening to Piggy and furthermore, everyone just derided him. Shutting away a person will result in rage which happened to Piggy, he lost his temper. Everyone laughing could have prompted in Piggy to feel insecure as “social isolation, in turn, can exacerbate a person’s feelings of low self-worth, shame, loneliness, depression, and other mental health concerns” (Therapy for Schizophrenia). Such issues have arised to apprehension and concern. In addition, since there is no adult leadership, no one has enough confidence. When one is socially isolated, there are signs of anxiety and low self-worth. This allows the mental isolation to take role.

Isolation leads to anxiety which causes the characters to act the way they do and puts them in a different mental state. Mental isolation takes a big part in Lord of the Flies, mainly because the kids are left stranded on an unknown island. Jack desires to be the leader of the group but everyone votes for Ralph instead. Jack then gets extremely frustrated and says,“‘I’m going off by myself. He can catch his own pigs. Anyone who wants to hunt when I do can come too.’

He blundered out of the triangle toward the drop to the white sand” (Golding 183). Now the group is split into two groups which means all things are even more unorganized. As everyone is slowly losing civilization, everything is turning into chaos. This eventually leads to the deaths of some kids. Isolation sometimes results in one to lose their mental ability, unable to even think something all the way through. As writer Thomas Carlyle says, “Isolation may very often be the ‘sum total of wretchedness’” (Bond). Isolation may cause you to go insane and there is nothing you can do about it because it is human nature.

Jack loses his mind when he decides to leave the group which is an outcome of his anger. According to Frank McAndrew, unpleasant things such as violence and conflict can arise “when small groups of people experience isolation together” (McAndrew). Golding shows how the boys lose their civility and go lunatic when he says “at once the crowd surged after it, poured down the rock, leapt on to the beast, screamed, struck, bit, tore.

There were no words, and no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws” (Golding 219). The boys assumed that Simon was the imaginary beast and viciously killed him. Their mental mindset causes them to act brutal and to not think ahead. Being mentally isolated can trigger how you act and feel.

Social and mental isolation is common among young children, and can happen as early as the age of five years old. School environment can either have a very positive effect or a very negative effect, often determined by the teachers and behavior of other students. Students are often rejected by their peers and not accepted into certain social groups, usually on the basis of being different. According to Timothy Matthews and his team, “at both primary and secondary school, children who were socially isolated experienced greater mental health difficulties” (Matthews).

The boys in Lord of the Flies are within the same age range as the kids used in the study and are at a higher risk of developing mental health problems due to social isolation. Some mental health issues include depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and anxiety. Children who already present signs of behavioral problems are more prone to struggling “to cope with the social challenges that accompany their progression through the early school years” (Matthews). Social isolation has lead to many mental health difficulties in the past and continues to do so in today’s society.

Social and mental isolation has a lot of negative effects. Social isolation is usually when one is separated from society or a group of people. On the other hand, mental isolation is when one is intellectually segregated from society. Both social and mental isolation can result in loneliness and one’s unhappiness. In Golding’s Lord of the Flies, the characters show the effects of social and mental isolation causing them to lose civilization.

The young boys are extremely fearful of an imaginary beast which influences them to behave barbarically. This exceeds to the point where the boys are acting viciously and even taking action within each other. However, the group attempts to be organized but as their mindset adapts to the environment, everything slowly becomes more chaotic. Being separated from a group of people can make one feel excluded which may provoke oneself to be mentally unstable. As the characters are acting savagely, they may have their own consequences. The boys’ development humanely is stunted and eventually lost in result of being socially and mentally isolated.

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Social Isolation in Lord of the Flies by William Golding. (2021, Sep 29). Retrieved from

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