This is a free sample essay on Symbolism in Lord of the Flies:
Symbolism is a very important factor in many books. In Lord of the Flies written by William Golding the use of symbolism is ever present. At a first glance many may not think much of the symbols; however with some in-depth thought you can see that they reflect the various situations on this microcosm of an island. As time on the island continues, the symbols change with it, and what they mean also is represented by this change. The pigs, the conch and Peggy’s specs are all Symbolic of the destruction and savagery that grows on the island.
Firstly the glasses that Piggy wore upon arrival of the island are symbolic of the state of the island in many ways. When they arrived at the island the glasses were spotless and perfect, no damage at all, similar to how the boys were. They were used to create fire and were needed; however the boy who owned the glasses was highly disrespected. “’You’re talking too much Fatty’” (Golding, Pg.18) this also changed with how the story unfolded. Soon after this conflict occurred, Jack and Piggy had a slight scuffle, however it would be more accurate to say that Jack beat up Piggy, consequently, this resulted in “Piggy’s glasses flew off and tinkled on the rocks” (Golding, Pg.65) at this time the tribe was still united, however Jack had just made his first mistake of running off to hunt a pig and letting the fire out. Much later in the book the rebel tribe under Jack’s command stole the glasses from Piggy in the night. This was extremely symbolic in many ways as the theft of the glasses also represents the theft of unity take from the boys and then theft of brotherhood. It was this event that lead to Piggy’s death, and the theft of intelligence from the island. The glasses are an excellent symbol of the state of tension and savagery on the island and are used extremely well by Mr.Golding.
Secondly the conch is a symbolic force on the island, its existence rivals that of a peace officer or member of the law. At the beginning, when Ralph found the conch on the beach shore, and he “blew a series of short blasts” (Golding, Pg. 15) this called order to the island as all of the boys made there way to the beach shore. Shortly after that they established that the only person who was holding the conch would be allowed to speak at the meetings, this worked well at the beginning. However after the fire had be let out by the hunters, they started to disrespect the conch and what it stood for, as if in some kind of civil rebellion. This was strong foreshawdoing of what was to come. As soon after this, the tension and rebellion rose, and Jack left, ultimately taking most of the inhabitants. During this time the other tribe was highly disrespectful of the conch, at times it was even ignored completely by Jack and some of the others.
After the tribes’ seporated, Jack held a feast and made it clear that the conch did not count on his side of the island, symbolizing that he did not want rules or regulations. Ultimately, the conch was killed along with Piggy, this symbolized the beginning of the end of Ralph, had the navy not saved him. It was also the destruction of the conch that represented the full transition to savagery of the boys. Therefore the conch was an important symbolic entity of the savagery on the island.
Lastly, the victims of the hunters themselves represent the savagery and destruction of the boys morals on the island. In the beginning Jack had attempted to kill a pig, however he could not pull himself to do it, he was too afraid of the blood that would spill from the animal At this time the boys were happy on the island and had few, if any conflicts.
This however was a short lived utopia. When Jack and his hunters were supposed to be watching the fire, they instead went off to hunt. They did successfully kill a pig, however this sparked conflict between Jack and Ralph, as there was a ship and Jack may have delayed their rescue by many weeks. This kill not only symbolized the beginning of the end, but it also caused the first conflict. The next hunt that ended victoriously was not just the kill of a pig, but a mother pig. This is much worst, as when you kill the mother pig you also kill her litter, as those little pigs have no one to rely on. This is also short sighted, as killing a lot of pigs for a small feast will shortly cause the destruction of food on the island. The killing of this mother pig also represented the increase of savagery and a debauched paradigm.
Unfortunately the savagery did not stop there, although it could be argued that it was an accident, Simon was put to death by the chant of the hunters. The real symbolism of savagery in this situation is the complete lack of remorse felt by Jack and the hunters. Ralph and Piggy were deeply troubled by the murder of Simon, which symbolized the humanity left in them. After this unfortunate incident, Piggy was killed while trying to get his glasses back from Jack and the hunters. This represented the almost complete transition to complete savagery, as this murder was semi-intentional, and they again held no remorse for the victim. Jack also used this as a threat to Ralph, stating this is what happens when people challenge him. Finally, the attempted murder of Ralph indicated the final transition to absolute evil. Had they killed him, they would have felt no remorse, no regret, at least not at first. This is the final representation and most dedicated symbol of the transition from a moral society, to a savage hell.
The preceding symbols strongly prove the transitions from morals to chaos. Golding quite clearly used symbolism throughout the book to represent the state of the boy’s society, and how it slowly changed to an impious microcosm.
It is quite amazing how Golding implemented many different symbols to describe the story that may not be noticed at first glance. Golding achieves his goal of expressing the story in an in-depth manner with the use of symbols.
Andrew Hughes – 2/10/2012