This GCSE English Literature quiz challenges you on context in Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Context, when used in reference to a literary work, means the environment in which a text was written. This environment includes social and political events, great and small, as well as the geographical location and time at which the author wrote. If you think these aspects of context are beginning to sound familiar, this is because you will find the same elements in a text’s setting. As you know, setting refers to the fictional aspects of the world contained in the text. Context describes the same aspects of the author’s own world. On some occasions, the author’s historical context might seem indistinguishable from the fictional setting of the text. This is the case with Lord of the Flies, where readers sometimes assume that the novel’s historical setting matches Golding’s own wartime experiences (watch out for the differences!).
Remember that context does not dictate the meaning of the text; it is very important to bear in mind that authors are only influenced by their environment and that this influence appears in various ways in the texts which they write. An author’s personal beliefs might also affect the text, although, again, it is important not to make assumptions about exactly how these beliefs are (or are not) apparent in the text.
Make the effort to learn as much as much as you can about the context of the works of fiction you study. You will begin to develop a good picture of how a specific text has been shaped by its environment. You should avoid leaping to the conclusion that any particular events or circumstances of the author’s life have a direct and obvious impact on the meaning of the text, however. The various ways in which context influences meaning are subtle and it is always wise not to assume that any historical event is represented in a clear and unbiased manner in the pages of a fictional text. The knowledge of context you gain will not be wasted, however, and will help you to understand the text better.
Research the context of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, remembering everything you have learned in your English lessons, and try these questions to see how much you know about the context of the novel.