Goldings novel Lord of the Flies is not a totally pessimistic novel; hence this is not the only reason that it was refused by so many publishers. It is evident that although it has strong pessimism throughout the text, it is not without a brighter side. Thus, pessimism could not be at fault for the publishers lack of interest in the text as there are other grounds for their judgment.
The Oxford English dictionary defines pessimism as:1.lack of hope or confidence in the future.
2.a belief that this world is as bad as it could be or that evil will ultimately prevail over good.
So is Lord of the Flies a totally pessimistic novel? Well judging by the definition of pessimism, this theme is indeed strongly evident throughout the text, yet it is a far cry from being totally pessimistic as such. The novel explores mankinds potential for evil as it illustrates a number of irresponsible, malicious and violent acts performed by mere schoolboys due to the situations in which they are placed in. Maybe its only us . . . Says Simon as the idea of the beastie being only the darkness within one another hits him.
Though almost every character becomes a savage (as Golding describes them), some characters represent the better aspects of human nature. Ralph represents democracy and order as he is put in power by a democratic vote, attempts to please the majority and has his eyes set upon the boys salvation off the island throughout almost all the novel. Piggy represents logic and intelligence as he is thought of the thinker and is arguably the most rational boy in the group. Simon represents natural goodness as he is the only character to continue doing what is right whilst all the other boys fall into savagery.
The novel progresses with significant losses taking place; whether it is a physical loss or a conceptual loss, as Simon dies, symbolising the loss of truth, giving him a Christ-like allusion; Piggy dies, symbolising the loss of intelligence, rational thinking and civilization as the conch is destroyed along with him. However, the book ends with not a totally tragic ending as the boys are finally rescued; contradicting the definition of pessimism as being lack of hope or confidence in the future, thus proving that this text does indeed have a silver lining.
So if this novel is not totally pessimistic, what other reasons would publishers have to refuse it? Well, publishers do not necessarily choose books which they believe are good, but choose books which they believe would sell well. As Lord of the Flies was written in the early 1950s, religion and morality were much more delicate issues than they are today, thus the publishers believed that this novel would not agree with the general public.
Allusions to the Bible can be found throughout the text as the themes of the original sin and falling from innocence are evident throughout. In fact, Golding initially describes the island as being a paradise, like Eden, until the boys slowly turn toward savagery and the descriptions are filled with pathetic fallacy showing the darker side of nature, such as when thunder is used to symbolise incoming conflict. The boys then begin to enter into conflict with one another, which points towards the story of the original sin in Genesis, and as religion was such a delicate issue at this time; the book was deemed as unacceptable in the early 1950s.
The theme of potential evil within all of mankind is consistent throughout the text as each of the boys gradually move towards a more savage, (and later on) barbaric way of life. The idea of there being a beastie on the island is concocted by an innocent littlun (who was possibly just scared of being without an adult guardian), but this idea is then morphed into a kind of myth as each of the boys, including the biguns, begin to fear the bestie. Jack and his tribe stick a pigs head upon a stick and sacrifice it to the beastie in hopes that it will not harm them as they have attempted to pacify it.
Simon then hears from the pigs head Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill! which suggests the beastie was more an idea or concept rather than a physical being. However, as Simon tries to bring the truth to the boys, he is killed; much like Christ was when he aspired to bring the truth to his people. The concept of there being an evil force within all of us, and the additional religious connotations were possibly deemed to be unpopular among the general public.
Lord of the Flies is not a totally pessimistic novel; therefore this cannot be the reason to it being rejected by so many publishers. The publishers rejected it due to their views on it being too scandalous and inappropriate to reveal to the public, as is shown above.
The Oxford English dictionary’Lord of the Flies’ – William Golding