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Lord of the Flies Symbolism Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1373 words Published: 7th Jun 2017

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The conch shell is a shell that means a lot more than just a beautiful white shell. It has great power and it symbolizes civilization and order. The boys on the island look to this conch as holding order in a crumbling society. The boys respect this conch in the beginning and no one can speak unless you are holding the conch. You will see how the conch, positioned high on a pedestal, but in the end, lays among the rocks in fine white dust. As the civilization and order on the island begins to erode, the conch shell looses power and this has a big influence on the boys. When they start to realize the conch is losing power, things will get out of order and jack is beginning to take over. Once Jack takes over, savageness is comes into play. The diminishing of the conch’s importance in this story shows the start of the decline of the civilization on this island. When the conch shell is crushed by the boulder roger threw, this symbolizes the true end of civilization and the true start of a truly savage nation.

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The signal fire is another important symbol in lord of the flies. The fire seems to represent savageness and civilization. It is savage because it burns wildly and it is civilization in the sense that they are trying to get rescued. The fire at first is a symbol of civilization and order and because Ralph is trying to get rescued which symbolizes civilization. When the fire starts to burn out of control and one boy goes missing (the one with the big birthmark on the side of his face) this shows that the fire is becoming savage. The signal fire has many complex layers… kind of like an onion. When the fire burns low or goes out, we begin to realize that the boys have lost the desire to be rescued and have accepted their savage lives on the island. The fire is ironic in a way that at the end of the novel, it finally gets a ship to the island. Instead of it being the signal fire it is the fire of savagery. The forest fire Jack’s tribe starts as part of trying to hunt Ralph down and kill him

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 that represents the decline and is shown by Piggy’s specs. Piggy’s glasses represent civilization, science, and technology while they are trying to get rescued. Piggy’s glasses make the fire start representing the start of the civilization process, if that is what you want to call it. Without the glasses, they would not have been able to get rescued. They end up fighting over the gasses when the glasses were knocked off piggy and broken. That represents how the glasses have changed and how the civilization is starting to diminish. When jack steals the glasses this shows how savageness is taking over and how jack is taking over. Throughout the book, Piggy represents the civilization and the rules. As Piggy loses his ability to see, the other boys lose their vision of becoming civilized and being rescued. When the story begins, Piggy can see clearly with both lenses of his glasses perfectly new and the boys are still civilized. After some time passes, the hunters become more concerned with slaughtering of a pig than with being rescued and returning to civilization. Things are beginning to diminish. This is illustrated in the way that Piggy’s glasses are becoming more and more broken. It shows how in the beginning piggy could see clearly and things were civilized. Then when his glasses were knocked off, he could not really see and that shows how civilization is declining. When Piggy’s glasses are stolen, he cannot see at all which shows that civilization has completely disappeared.

The beast is a thing that all the boys are afraid of, it is a product of their imagination. However, in reality, it represents the evil that lurks whit in all of us, which is causing life on the island to deteriorate. Piggy begins to say that the beast is just fear and Simon tells them, “Maybe, maybe there is a beast what I mean is maybe it’s only us” (p. 89). Jack states that the beast can take shape in any form, which is kind of showing how the beast can take shape in anybody. It is foreshadowing in how the beast will soon come out of the boys and start killing one by one. The beast changes from the beginning because it is seen as a thing but then later on they started to realize that the beast is within all of us. The beast can’t be killed because it is in every single one of us. The beast is, literally a man that is not what Simon means when he says that it is “only us.” He is talking about the beast being the darkness that is inside each and every one of us. If this is true, then, as the Lord of the Flies later says, it is crazy to think that the beast is something “you could hunt and kill.” If it is inside all of us, not only can we not hunt it, we can never see it, never give it form and never defeat it. When Simon has his scene with the pig’s head, the Lord of the Flies says to him, “I’m the beast.” This makes simons other words true; you cannot hunt and kill the beast, because they have already hunted and killed the pig and it is still talking to you. Even later, when Ralph smashes the skull, makes the smile bigger, “now six feet across” as it lies “grinning at the sky.” This thing just will not die, and it torments Ralph so much, because it “knows all the answers and won’t tell.” The boys are afraid of the beast, but only Simon realizes that they fear the beast because it exists within each of them. As the boys grow more savage, their belief in the beast grows stronger. By the end of the novel, the boys are leaving it and treating it as a some what god. The boys’ behavior is what brings the beast into their lives because they are so savage. The more savagely the boys act, the more real the beast seems to become.

Another symbol that is the presented in the middle of the book is the lord of the flies. The lord of the flies is the main theme of the book, hence the title. The lord of the flies is the head of the pig that the boys killed and chopped up. The Lord of the Flies is the bloody, severed sow’s head that Jack impales on a stake in the forest glade as an offering to the beast. They stuck the head on a stick and left it there for the so-called beast to come eat it. The lord of the flies symbolizes the devil or satan. The actions that the boys did to kill the pig was the last action that truly turned them to savages. That was the most savage thing they could have done. Simon has a discussion with the lord of the flies and it tells him that the beast cannot be killed and it lurks within all of us. This complicated symbol becomes the most important symbol in the novel when Simon confronts the cow’s head in the forest and it seems to speak to him, telling him that evil lies within every human heart and promising to have some “fun” with him. (This “fun” foreshadows Simon’s death in the next chapter.) In this way, the Lord of the Flies becomes both a physical picture of the beast, a symbol of the power of evil, and a kind of Satan figure who makes the beast come out within each human being. Looking at the book in the sense of the bible, the Lord of the Flies resembles the devil, just as Simon resembles Jesus. The name “Lord of the Flies” is a translation of the name of the biblical name Beelzebub, which is a powerful demon in hell that is sometimes thought to be the devil.

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The boys, have truly, been deprived of their innocence. They have witnessed that deep down inside there is a dangerous beast lurking there. The symbols help to show how the innocence is lost and how things have changed in their society. Golding is foreshadowing our lives. Slowly and slowly, we will become more and more uncivilized and the beast will come out and transform our faces and personality. The change in the symbols of the book shows the slow decline of civilization and the gradual increase of the savageness and the beast manifesting from within the boys.


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