English / Symbolism In Golding'S Lord Of The Flies

Symbolism In Golding'S Lord Of The Flies

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Autor:  anton  08 April 2011
Tags:  Symbolism,  Goldings
Words: 937   |   Pages: 4
Views: 333

Symbolism is, without doubt, a major aspect of William Golding’s enduring classic, Lord of the Flies, helping readers gain a better understanding of his message. Most of the symbols used can be divided into two groups: those representing law and order, and those signifying anarchy and savagery. In this essay, I will be discussing five of the more important symbols, specifically the jungle, the beast, the conch, the face paintings, and the hunt.

In this novel, the jungle symbolises the birthplace of savagery. Jack found the very first pig here, “caught in a curtain of creepers” and helpless, but could not bear “the enormity of the knife descending and cutting into living flesh”. He was too inhibited by society’s teachings at that time to allow himself to make that “downward stoke”. Nevertheless, he wanted to prove to the others that he actually had the guts to end life, promising that “next time there would be no mercy”. Exhilaration took over him after his first kill, and gradually, he hunted not for the need for meet, but for the sheer thrill of slaughter. Eventually, Jack and his hunters broke away from “Ralph’s lot”, and became savages, seeing as they could not be bothered with Ralph’s rules about the signal fire, and just wanted to have “a smashing time” by slaying pigs. The jungle clearly signifies the origin of barbarity, because Jack found the first pig here, and his failure to kill it inspired him to kill many others just for kicks, causing him and his hunters to turn savage.

The beast represents the evil within the boys, allowing them to descend from civilised people to savage animals. The children all knew it existed, but none of them realised that the reason why they could not find it outside on the island was because it actually resided within them. Evidence of this is shown when Jack referred to the beast as “a hunter”, but failed to see the connection that they were both hunters. Only Simon knew the beast for what it really was. However he thought of it, he saw “before his inward sight the picture of a human at once heroic and sick”. This goes to show that he knew every human had a beast within, and was evil by nature. Progressively throughout the story, the beast went from being a figment of some littlun’s imagination to something so frighteningly real that it required sacrifice if one were to be safe from it. Eventually, it turned the boys savage, and spurred them to take the lives of Simon and Piggy.

The conch is the symbol of power. In the beginning of the story, the boys voted for Ralph to be chief, just because he had the conch with him. They all wanted “him with the shell” to lead them, thus showing how everyone seemed to think that authority came from it. The power of free speech represented by the conch is illustrated by the fact that whoever held it had the “right to speak”, and would not be interrupted. Not to mention, meetings could only be called by blowing it, and wherever it was, “that’s a meeting”. As the boys ignored the conch more and more often, Ralph also had less and less control over them. People interrupted him, even when he held the conch, and eventually, Jack formed his own tribe of savages. Its power was finally broken with the fall of Piggy, when it “exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist”. Instead of leading the children, the leader now became their prey, thus suggesting that as the conch disappeared, so did Ralph’s ability to control them.

The face paintings signify the veils behind which the boys were hidden from their own consciences, free from the restraints of society’s teachings. With their faces painted, Jack and his hunters were “liberated from shame and self-consciousness”, and could do whatever they wanted. Not only did the face paintings disguise their appearances when they hunted, they also stripped the boys of their individualities. In a group, they ceased being individuals, and became a mob of painted savages. By destroying their personal identities, they lost their personal responsibilities as well. Evidence of this is shown when Ralph perceived Bill not to be the innocent boy he once knew, but “a savage whose image refused to blend with that ancient picture of a boy in shorts and shirt”, thus proving how powerful the face paintings were in turning the boys into complete strangers. By painting their faces, they unleashed the beast within, and caused the deaths of Simon and Piggy.

Finally, the hunt indicates the complete transition of the boys from civilians to barbarians. As mentioned earlier, Jack, at first, could not bring himself to kill a pig, because of the ropes of society holding him down. However, these ropes snapped when he took the life of his first kill “like a long satisfying drink”. Gradually, he hunted for the thrill of slaughter, rather than the need for meat, thus showing how much like a savage he was becoming. With the hunt, “the darkness of man’s heart” was revealed, and “the end of innocence” came for the boys. They chose to hunt Ralph, the last remnant of civilisation, down, knowing fully well that their hunt would ultimately end in murder.

Golding effectively uses symbolism in his novel to allow readers to see the ugly nature of man. Contrary to many people’s belief that society makes man evil, he feels that man is evil by nature, and needs society to keep him in line, as can be seen in the extraordinary Lord of the Flies.

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