Symbols In The Lord Of Flies

Lord of the flies is a page turner which was authored in 1954 by an award-winning English author called William Golding. Like all great writers, the author has incorporated strong symbolism that is meant to reveal his thoughts on evil and the nature of humans and humanity in general. This symbolism is hidden under a story which is focused on boys who after an airplane crash have been left stranded on an island which has not been inhabited for a long time. The boys attempt to form a type of self-governance but that fails and ends up with disastrous results.

The beast

The beast is a symbol that has been used in the book to represent the savage nature of human beings. The instinct to survive is brought out in the book. Almost all the boys marooned on the island do not realize the nature of the beast. Only Simon does. He makes the discovery that they all fear the beast because it exists in all of them. As time passes, and the savagery of the boy’s increases, so does their belief in the beast. The boys’ actions are what brings the beast to the fore. The boys only turn into beasts when they kill Simon. By unleashing the ultimate savagery, they also release and become the beast. The beast, in this case, savage nature, is a threat to everyone on the island but only Simon sees it. At first it is the unifier among them all but in the end, it divides them all. Jack who is one of the boys that was stranded is the first one who harnesses the power of the beast through manipulation to gain control of his friends. This illustrates manipulators who prey on peoples’ insecurities to gain power.

The conch

The conch is another powerful tool of symbolism which has been used to represent civilization and liberties. It is first found by Ralph and Piggy and is used as a tool of expressing themselves. They use it as a right to speak. Only Jack is seen as a threat to the conch. He ultimately preys on their insecurities and savage human nature to become their leader. Piggy who stays with the conch holds it up frequently and encourages others to use it as a right to speak. At castle rock, as they search for Piggy’s glasses, Ralph tries to use the conch to be heard and to also try and bring the boys back from their savage nature and back to civilization. This fails as he ends up arguing with Jack. At the height of this argument, Roger levers a boulder which breaks the conch and ends up killing Piggy. This dashes any hopes for civilization. When the conch was found at the beach, it was blown to bring all the boys together and whoever held had the right to speak. It became a powerful symbol of not only order and civilization but also democracy. As the story moves on the conch loses color slowly representing the ending civilization until it is finally broken representing the end of civilization.

The fire

The author uses fire to symbolize hope. This is especially so because the boys light it in the hope that any ship in the vicinity may see them and come to their rescue. The hope for rescue is what keeps the boys going. When they meet to convene an assembly because the hunters are not keeping the fire going, the fire that is burning is used to symbolize the diminishing hopes of rescue from the island.

Body paint

The writer has used body point as a symbol of liberation. On the island, the boys think they see something in the trees but after applying the paint, they are no longer afraid. The paint boldens them and thus unleashes their savagery nature. It frees them and allows them to act in ways that they were not allowed to before either by their parents or school. In essence, the paint is an eye opener, it does not hide the true nature of the boys but rather reveals it. The author has also used the island as poetically to symbolize paradise. The boys have landed in a place that is bountiful with food and beauty. They have been given a paradise from where they can start building the perfect society from scratch.

Other symbols

  1. Forest;
  2. Piggy’s glasses;
  3. Pig’s head;
  4. Dead parachutist.

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