Lord of the Flies


In his classic novel, Lord of the Flies, William Golding utilizes 
many elements of symbolism to help accomplish his motif, which is "man 
is basically evil." Symbolism can be anything, a person, place or 
thing, used to portray something beyond itself. It is used to 
represent or foreshadow the conclusion of the story. As one reads this 
novel, he or she will begin to recognize the way basic civilization is 
slowly stripped away from the boys. Let us know look closer at the 
ways Golding uses this form of symbolism.

 From the very beginning of the story the boys inwardly strip 
themselves of the remnants of the basic civilized world. This is
shown when the boys shed their clothes; their school sweaters, then 
the rest of their clothes are torn off. Their hair becomes 
increasingly disheveled, long, and entangled with small twigs. Since 
the boys are left without any adult supervision they have to turn to 
their collective unconscious. The collective unconscious was 
discovered by the renown psychologist Carl Jung. Let us now look 
further into each individual character in the novel, and discover how 
they each contribute to portray the ending of the story. 

 Ralph is one of the older boys on the island and remains the 
leader throughout most of the novel. He is described as a pure, 
English lad. Such details as his fair hair and the fact that he is 
wearing his school sweater symbolizes many things. First of all the
fact that he has fair hair represents that he will be the positive 
force throughout the novel, as opposed to Jack who is described as 
having red hair. The fact that he keeps his school sweater symbolizes 
his desire to keep the island somewhat civilized. He does everything 
he can to keep the boys under some kind of society. He makes laws 
including the freedom of speech. Ralph becomes very popular in the 
beginning, however as the novel proceeds and the society deteriorates, 
the popular leader is abandoned for a strong-armed dictator; Jack 

 The impression that we have of Jack is that he is a tall thin boy 
with a shock of red hair at the summit of a black cloak. Jacks
appearance seems to suggest evil. Unlike Ralph who stands for common 
sense and a desire for normal civilized life, all Jack cares about is 
hunting. Because of this opposition between Jack and Ralph, Jack is 
Ralph's main antagonist. Symbolically Jack breaks away from good when 
he baptizes himself with the blood of the slaughtered pig. Jack 
eventually breaks away from Ralph and the others and forms his own 
group which will basically strive for blood. This leads to multiple 
murders. With the exception of Ralph, Piggy, and a few others, Jack 
lures the other boys to join him. According to the laws of Freudian
Psychology Jacks Id has taken over. 

 Another character portrayed in Lord of the Flies is Piggy. Piggy 
is the object of much mockery and is obviously a fat boy. Piggy 
foresees both the need for a closely watched signal fire and for 
secure shelters on the beach. Piggys spectacles are used to start the 
fire. Piggy could represent knowledge or intelligence, a figure which 
is often depicted as a fire-bringer. A familiar expression that can 
represent this is the fire of inspiration. Even though Piggy 
represented all good he was often jeered at. 

 Simon is a Christ figure. He is quiet, almost unnoticed, yet he 
speaks wiser than the others. His wander deep into the heart of the 
woods in chapter three, is representative of Jesus' journey's to 
isolate himself to pray to his Father. 

 As we can clearly see, William Golding has used much symbolism to 
help portray the ending of the novel, Lord of the Flies. 


Quotes: Search by Author