Lord of the Flies Study Guide (Choose to Continue)


Lord of the Flies: Metaphor Analysis

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Beast: The beast, the Lord of the Flies, is seen as a real object on the island which frightens the boys. Actually the beast is something internal; the Lord of the Flies is in soul and mind of the boys, leading them to the natural chaos of a society with no reasoning adults. Only Simon understands what the real beast is, but is killed when he tries to tell the boys about the Lord of the Flies.

Conch: The conch shell symbolizes the law and order of the old adult world which Piggy tries so desperately to protect. The conch represents all the authority which the boys are so used to obeying. When Roger destroys the conch, anarchy quickly ensues because any hope of strong, central leadership has been abandoned. The island society collapses into chaos.

Facepaint: This is the excuse many of the boys use for living as hunting savages, instead of civilized English citizens. The paint symbolizes the smoke-screen the beast uses to infiltrate the boys’ souls.

Fire/Smoke: The smoke of the signal fire symbolizes the last best hope of the boys being rescued. To Piggy and Ralph, the fire represents the moral influence of their old life in England. When the fire goes out, Ralph loses his bearings, unsure of his next move.
The fire is diatonically opposed to hunting, the activity of anarchy on the island.
Island: Golding purposefully picked an island to be the landing place of the crashed plane because an island is isolated from the rest of society. The boys have no contact with the outside world and must look to themselves to solve the problems of their own micro-society. In this way, the island, which symbolizes isolation, serves as a perfect backdrop for the frailties of human nature which eventually surface.

Glasses: The glasses symbolize the voice of reason and logic among the boys. Piggy defends his glasses even more than the conch. Piggy, who represents the superego of the boys’ (and society’s) collective personality, uses his glasses to find solutions to the boys’ problems. The most important solution the glasses find is the lighting of the fire, the boys’ best chance of being rescued.

The Parachute Man: The dead body flying in the parachute symbolizes the end of adult supervision of the boys on the island. While the parachute man is flapping back and forth on the island, conjuring up a powerful image of its prolonged death, the Beast, or Lord of the Flies, is prospering under its new control over Jack and most of the other boys on the island. So while the law and order of the adult world is waning, childish chaos is growing exponentially. Simon has a special connection with the parachute man. He climbs the mountain, subconsciously, to determine whether the parachute man is still alive. When he finds out that the man is dead and that the Beast is alive, Simon has a nervous breakdown. The moral confrontation which occurs when Simon has the interview with the Lord of the Flies symbolizes man’s inability to conquer the evil anarchy of the devil.
The association between the expression "Lord of the Files" and the devil can be traced back to the Scriptures where the word Baal-zebub/Beelzebub appears. This word was first used in the Old Testament and in Hebrew the literal meaning of Baal is lord and Zebub is a large destructive fly. In the New Testament, which was originally written in Greek, Baal-zebub is Beelzebub, or Beelzebul, a name used in reference to Satan.


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