Lesson 7: Bowed and Bowed Again

Getting Started

"O true apothecary! / Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die."

Those are Romeo's last words before he commits suicide. In Shakespeare's timeless Romeo and Juliet, Romeo gives up when he mistakenly believes that the object of his obsession — Juliet — is dead. The scene of a young man so consumed by grief that he drinks a lethal poison would be sad enough. But since the audience knows that his grief is unfounded — that Juliet is not dead — for them the scene is as frustrating as it is dismal. The addition of this layer of emotion is made possible by a literary device called dramatic irony. This is when the reader or audience is aware of information that a character or characters in a story do not know.

Dramatic irony is an important tool for focusing the reader's attention. Golding uses dramatic irony to keep our focus on the themes he emphasizes in Lord of the Flies. In Chapter 6, Golding describes a fated paratrooper's death spiral onto the island as all the boys sleep, entirely unaware.

"There was a sudden bright explosion and a corkscrew trail across the sky — there was a speck above the island, a figure dropping swiftly beneath a parachute, a figure hung with dangling limbs...The figure fell and crumpled among the blue flowers of the mountainside, but now there was a gentle breeze at this height too, and the parachute flopped and banged and pulled — the figure sat on the mountain-top and bowed and sank and bowed again."

Since we know that the bulging beast on the mountain is the fallen parachutist, we are removed from the boys' sense of fear and mystery during their quest up the mountain as we read Chapter 7. This allows us to remain focused on the real suspense Golding is building through the novel: how dangerous will the boys become to one another?

Stuff You Need

  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • journal

Ideas to Think About

  • How do fear and desire for acceptance influence human behavior?
  • Do individuals control groups, or do groups control individuals?
  • How does a society maintain order? Are laws necessary?

Things to Know

  • Dramatic irony is present when the reader or audience is aware of information that a character or characters in a story do not know.
  • A noun phrase is composed of a noun and all its modifiers.
  • A verb phrase is made of a verb and the other auxiliary or helping verbs.
  • In adjective phrases and adverb phrases, two or more words work together to function as an adjective or adverb.
  • Absolute phrases modify entire sentences. They add information but do not specifically modify or connect to any particular word in the sentence.
  • Prepositional phrases begin with a preposition and end with a noun or pronoun. Words like at, around, before, for, in, near, off, and over are examples of prepositions.


  • Use various types of phrases (noun, verb, adjectival, adverbial, participial, prepositional, absolute) and clauses (independent, dependent; noun, relative, adverbial) to convey specific meanings and add variety and interest to writing or presentations. (LA)
  • Analyze how an author's choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise. (LA)
  • Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text. (LA)

Introducing the Lesson

In this lesson, students will learn how to create dramatic irony by providing or withholding information. This is an apt time in the novel to explain these literary devices, because in the chapter students have just read, Golding has given the audience information regarding the object on the mountain, and the characters in the story do not have this information. A dead parachutist and his bulging parachute have created a large, unknown, moving object near the boys' signal fire, and they believe it is the beast. But thanks to dramatic irony, the reader remains focused on the boys' actions during the coming chapters.