Mine Paper

This essay has a total of 1641 words and 6 pages.


In William Golding's Lord of the Flies, the boys who are stranded on the island come in
contact with many unique elements that symbolize ideas or concepts. Through the use of
symbols such as the beast, the pig's head, and even Piggy's specs, Golding demonstrates
that humans, when liberated from society's rules and taboos, allow their natural capacity
for evil to dominate their existence.
One of the most important and most obvious symbols in Lord of the Flies is the object that
gives the novel its name, the pig's head. Golding's description of the slaughtered animal's
head on a spear is very graphic and even frightening. The pig's head is depicted as
"dim-eyed, grinning faintly, blood blackening between the teeth," and the "obscene thing"
is covered with a "black blob of flies" that "tickled under his nostrils" (William Golding,
Lord of the Flies, New York, Putnam Publishing Group, 1954, p. 137, 138). As a result of
this detailed, striking image, the reader becomes aware of the great evil and darkness
represented by the Lord of the Flies, and when Simon begins to converse with the
seemingly inanimate, devil-like object, the source of that wickedness is revealed. Even
though the conversation may be entirely a hallucination, Simon learns that the beast, which
has long since frightened the other boys on the island, is not an external force. In fact, the
head of the slain pig tells him, "Fancy thinking the beast was something you could hunt
and kill! O You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you?" (p. 143). That is to say, the evil,
epitomized by the pig's head, that is causing the boys' island society to decline is that
which is inherently present within man. At the end of this scene, the immense evil
represented by this powerful symbol can once again be seen as Simon faints after looking
into the wide mouth of the pig and seeing "blackness within, a blackness that spread" (p.
Another of the most important symbols used to present the theme of the novel is the beast.
In the imaginations of many of the boys, the beast is a tangible source of evil on the island.
However, in reality, it represents the evil naturally present within everyone, which is
causing life on the island to deteriorate. Simon begins to realize this even before his
encounter with the Lord of the Flies, and during one argument over the existence of a
beast, he attempts to share his insight with the others. Timidly, Simon tells them, "Maybe,
O maybe there is a beast O What I mean is O maybe it's only us" (p. 89). In response to
Simon's statement, the other boys, who had once conducted their meetings with some
sense of order, immediately begin to argue more fiercely. The crowd gives a "wild
whoop" when Jack rebukes Ralph, saying "Bollocks to the rules! We're strong o we hunt!
If there's a beast, we'll hunt it down! We'll close in and beat and beat and beat!" (p. 91).
Clearly, the boys' fear of the beast and their ironic desire to kill it shows that the hold
which society's rules once had over them has been loosened during the time they have
spent without supervision on the island.
The evil within the boys has more effect on their existence as they spend more time on the
island, isolated from the rest of society, and this decline is portrayed by Piggy's specs.
Throughout the novel, Piggy represents the civilization and the rules from which the boys
have been separated, and interestingly, as Piggy loses his ability to see, so do the other
boys lose their vision of that civilization. When the story begins, Piggy can see clearly
with both lenses of his spectacles intact, and the boys are still fairly civilized. For example,
at one of their first meetings, the boys decide that they "can't have everybody talking at
once" and that they "have to have eHands up' like at school" (p. 33). However, after some
time passes, the hunters become more concerned with slaughtering a pig than with being
rescued and returning to civilization. When they return from a successful hunt in the jungle
chanting "Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Spill her blood," Ralph and Piggy attempt to explain
to the hunters that having meat for their meals is not as important as keeping the signal fire
burning (p. 69). In an ensuing scuffle, Jack knocks Piggy specs from his face, smashing
one of the lenses against the mountain rocks and greatly impairing his vision. Finally, after
Jack forms his own tribe of savages, he and two of his followers ambush Ralph, Piggy,
and Samneric, and in the midst of "a vicious snarling in the mouth of the shelter and the
plunge and thump of living things," Piggy's specs are stolen, leaving him virtually blind (p.
167). Meanwhile, Jack returns to Castle Rock, "trotting steadily, exulting in his
achievement," as he has practically abandoned all ties to civilized life (p. 168).
The story's setting presents two more symbols that assist in showing the decline of civility
on the island. A majority of the island is taken up by the jungle, which is used by many
authors as an archetype to represent death and decay. In fact, since the jungle is the lair of
the beast, it, too, symbolizes the darkness naturally present within humans that is capable
of ruling their lives. This evil eventually spreads to almost every boy on the island, just as
in the jungle, "darkness poured out, submerging the ways between the trees till they were
dim and strange as the bottom of the sea" (p. 57). At one end of the island, where the plane
carrying the boys most likely crashed, there is a "long scar smashed into the jungle" (p. 1).
While Golding does not include a large amount of description about the scar, the image of
Continues for 3 more pages >>