Symbols and Allegories in “Lord of the Flies”

William Golding’s novel “Lord of the Flies” uses characters and objects to demonstrate its central themes and ideas. The novel is an allegory, a fantastic or fabulous story intended to communicate a moral lesson. Many objects in the story are themselves allegories, symbols which illustrate Golding’s idea that impulses of civilization and savagery rage within all individuals. The Lord of the Flies ‘Lord of the Flies’ is one of the names of the Devil in Christian mythology.

The Devil, or Satan, has many names; ‘Lord of the Flies’ is derived from the name Beelzebub, which has a sound like the buzzing of flies. It also references the spread of filth and decay associated with flies, as the Devil is considered a spoiler and ruiner of innocence. In the novel, Simon names the severed sow’s head that Jack impales on a stick ‘Lord of the Flies’ because it literally attracts flies. During Simon’s trancelike conversation with the pig’s head, it becomes a mystical totem, and readers understand the connection the name has to the Christian meaning.

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Golding chose the name as the novel’s title because it symbolizes the primal, savage nature present in all mankind, even those we regard as innocent, such as children. The Conch Shell The conch shell found by Ralph and Piggy represents civilization and order. It is used many times to draw all the boys together. The conch represents the order society derives from government. It symbolizes our human instinct to have a society of common rules. Additionally, the conch symbolizes the society the boys create on their island.

Piggy often clings tightly to the shell and cautions the boys not to break it. The destruction of the conch illustrates the dissolution of their civilization into anarchy. Piggy’s Glasses The glasses represent the power of science and creative intellect. They are used to create fire for the rescue signal and for cooking. Jack damages them with his brutish behavior. Later, he steals the glasses to solidify his control of the island. The Signal Fire The signal fire demonstrates the boys’ connection, as a group, to the outside world.

When the fire burns low or goes out, it reflects loss of their desire to go home. How each individual boy attends to the fire reflects his inner desire for rescue. The Beast The Beast represents the primal instinct of savagery within all people. It’s an imaginary figure the boys focus their fears on. As their fear of the Beast grows, so does their savagery. Eventually, they worship it as a god. Jack encourages belief in the beast because fear and savagery strengthen his leadership. Simon understands the truth; the beast they fear is really each other.

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