Lord of the Flies Essay Prompts

Instructor: Jason Lineberger

Jason has 20 years of education experience including 14 years of teaching college literature.

Lord of the Flies is a novel that can be used to teach a variety of curriculum standards. These six essay prompts draw from the novel's major themes and motifs and require students to think critically and to synthesize their thoughts on the book.

Essay Prompt Instructions

Each of the prompts below is associated with major ideas that are found running through the whole novel. These prompts can be manipulated for a desired length, but most should fall around 2-3 pages. You can reduce the scope of the essays by requiring students to center their responses on a particular chapter, or by reducing the amount of support and citation from the text.

Good vs. Evil

Lord of the Flies explores the line between good and evil and who defines those values. In an essay of 2-3 typed pages, explore the characters of Jack, Ralph, Piggy, and Simon. Explain where these characters fall on the spectrum from saintly (fully good) to devilish (fully evil). Support your ideas with direct quotes and examples from the text. If the characters change as the plot progresses, explain how they change and what causes that change. Finally, based on your findings, what point is the author making about the nature of good and evil?

Civilization vs. Savagery

Lord of the Flies presents characters who represent humanity's tendency towards order and civilization, and it contrasts them with characters who are connected to our savage, instinct-driven, animalistic side. Choose two characters who represent civilization and two who embody savagery. In a well-developed essay of approximately 2-3 pages, explain how the characters represent these traits. Be sure to use references to scenes from the book as well as direct quotes from the text. Go on to draw a conclusion about the author's overall message about human nature and our connection to both civilization and savagery, paying particular attention to the final chapter of the book.


The characters in Lord of the Flies are, for the most part, British schoolboys. Examine the language they use, the cultural references they make, and the actions they take on the island. In a well-developed essay of approximately 2 pages, explain the aspects of the novel that are particular to British culture. Does the reader need to have an understanding of British culture to fully appreciate the novel? Be sure to support your ideas with direct references and quotations.

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