The fiction of William Golding : a study in contradictions
This thesis undertakes a study of the contradictions embedded in Golding's fiction. It is difficult, as I attempt to show, to treat Golding under the rubric of revolutionary, conservative, liberal humanist, optimistic or pessimistic writer separately. Golding's fiction shows a mind which is at once creative and enmeshed in the mysteries of the universe. However, I attempt in this study to shed light on the many contradictions which I think are present in his work. For this purpose, I concentrate on eight novels as the objects of my analysis. Lord of the Flies, Golding's first novel, displays a contradiction which is at the heart of Golding's vision. WhiIe Golding tries hard to show the hardness of man’s heart, he risks falling into pointlessness if the project were to end only on this note. Golding is caught up in the dilemma of at once believing in Original Sin and wanting to see an alternative future for humankind. If man is "originally" incapable of harmonious living, how is he ever to achieve this harmony? In Pincher Hartin, Golding delves deeper into a religious dogmatism which believes in individual greed. This greed, however, threatens ultimately to undo the "system" within which it exists. But if Golding tries hard to eliminate this individual greed, how then can he emphasise that man is originally sinful? With the removal of this greed and many other sins with it, man is likely to become "pure", something which Golding does not believe in. In Free Fall, Golding explores the idea of art for art's sake. One of the problems of this idea is that it leaves the political implications of any situation completely intact. The Spire enacts a different kind of contradiction. Jocelin, in one sense a saintly figure who can "see" more intuitively than the others, is driven into despair at his own creation. He ultimately loses faith in his own "powerful" vision. In The Paper Men, Golding embarks on a new way of treating his own themes. In its technique, this novel is closer than any of the others to postmodernist literature in its permutations, displacements, and indecisiveness. As for the trilogy, here Golding reaches a position where he can confidently be described as a liberal humanist. The trilogy paradoxically shows Golding at his best. The contradictions of the protagonist Edmund Talbot "reflect" those of a social class that has within it the features of both the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie. At the end, Golding does not "solve" these contradictions and he leaves us with a proposition that could see the end of all literary criticism and analysis. It is in the conclusion to this study that I address this problem.