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Symbolism in Lord of the Flies

The story, Lord of the Flies, has many interesting symbols relating adult society to kids surviving on an island. Many of the characters and items in this novel such as Jack or the conch can be interpreted on a macroscopic scale but the most important being this; a microcosm of children on an island makes a great symbolic message about human nature, society and how grown-ups live and govern – and how they cannot. When you consider the time period this book was written, you can see where Golding got some of his inspiration.

Europe was still recovering after WW2 and the author probably wanted to comment on the political turmoil during the 50s. The island is a microcosm of the world during this time, and its scar represents human destruction once the kids were dropped or “reborn” on the island. If we look at the book as a political statement we can already sense leaders and followers. Obviously, Ralph, described as a good-looking, relying on common sense type of regular fellow, is the likable, fair, and even admired, democratic leader.

He has a few loyal advisors and following. Piggy, a smart chubby boy, represents the scientific community and logical thinking, with glasses that represent clarity, civilization and the power to get back. He is essentially Ralph’s method of governing. Sam ‘n Eric, the twin labourers, stuck with Ralph until the end and did a lot of cooperative activities for Ralph. They were the hut builders, fire tenders and wood gatherers. The little ones also liked Ralph. They were the citizens and at times were happy but slowly grew discontent as paradise became hell.

Throughout the story the little ones didn’t do much but in the beginning they did vote Ralph in and basically brought him into power. Because the people elected Ralph, he therefore is a true democratic ruler. He passes the conch symbolizing order around, lets others talk, follows rules and does not intend to break them himself. There’s trouble enforcing the laws just like our democracies, today. However, we are still free-living citizens, much like the kids under Ralph’s reign. Jack and Roger are the complete opposite. Jack represents the savagery and hate in all of us.

Starting out as a choirboy, he slowly evolves into the hunting “Chief” of the opposition party. Methods used by Hitler were also used by Jack. Total control such as binding and strapping Wilfred and propaganda like using the beast to inspire fear and presenting himself as the only protection is used in his dictatorial rule. He overthrows Ralph with fun, and then proceeds to use muscle once he had friends like Roger. Roger is his right hand man but is even worse. He starts out throwing rocks, moves on to torturing pigs and in the end he intentionally kills Piggy.

He was a terror while torturing with Sam n’ Eric and the executioner when he killed Piggy. He is what Jack uses to rule, much like Hitler’s personal guard and is even more extreme and totalitarian than Jack. Jack and Roger’s rise to power mirror real life events. Ralph giving Jack control of the choir near the beginning of the book is reflective on many of the European dictator’s rise to power during WW2. Weak leaders of the Western world did not enforce the Treaty of Versailles nor did they resist the annexations done by Hitler before the war.

Nobody opposed him till it was too late much like this novel. Ralph tried, and their own little “war” broke out when the fire was stolen and continued until Ralph was saved by chance when the navy came, similar to the United States shifting the balance near the end of the war. Simon is the primary religious and good figure because of his spiritual and prophetic ways. Never violent and pretty much alone is what he’s like throughout the story. He says to Ralph, “All the same. You’ll get back all right. I think so, anyway.

He hangs out in a tranquil spot in the book and plays with a lizard there in the movie, it was a gentle scene and he is depicted as a small, frail character. These qualities make him innocent and pure but he was also the first to figure out what the beast really was. Shy and embarrassed he hides the fact that the beast may really be their inner fears, which is exactly what the beast represented. The beast turned out to be nothing more than a dead parachutist, who is freed by Simon, which in turn, frees the other boys’ fears.

He also experienced a “vision” like Moses while sitting next to the pig head also know as the Lord of the Flies, something that inspires fear and exploits the insecurities that the boys hold. This is a lot like the Devil people during the Middle Ages were so afraid of. To Simon, it represents danger and a bad omen because he falls victim to it while running away. The beast says, “-Or else, we shall do you. See? Jack and Roger and Maurice and Robert and Bill and Piggy and Ralph. Do you. See? ” The pig head was correct; Simon is killed by the whole group of dancing boys.

The pigs themselves may represent some sort of adult or feminine role because of the absence of females on this island. The pigs are the source of recreation, food and comfort for Jack’s group. The language also suggests it, in Chapter Eight the group was “…fulfilled upon her. ” They were also “…wedded to her in lust…” Painted, hunting “mothers” and nameless, tells us they’re moving away from society, going back to a primitive state. The pigs though triggered this behavior. Lord of the Flies is filled with symbolism and can be expressed in political terms or in a religious sense.

There are many messages between the lines but the last one may be the most important. The ending takes them back to adult society and the real world. The boys stop and let the officer take care of business… but he does not. The adult simply turns his back and lets the boys pull together, abandoning them. “The officer, surrounded by these noises, was moved and a little embarrassed. He turned away to give them time to pull themselves together; and waited, allowing his eyes to rest on the trim cruiser in the distance. ”

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