British Literature

Literary Analysis Symbolism in Lord of the Flies by William Golding



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In William Golding's "The Lord of the Flies", symbols draw much path of the novel. The most important symbols that guide the story along are the conch and the head of the sow. Obviously seen, the conch and the sow's head have a different aura to them. The conch takes up a majestic role, while the head is an evil display. A considerable amount of the story is spent on Ralph's and Jack's struggle for power, and to keep the struggle strong, both Ralph and Jack use these symbols. Arguably, without symbols, "The Lord of the Flies" would be a different story.




The conch and the sow's head are the symbols that draw the most attention; they reflect the most power. Difference of these symbols can be seen from the beginning of their appearance in the story. The conch is found in the lagoon. It is an inspiring piece of art that exists there naturally. On the other hand, the head is made from brutality and violence; there is nothing natural about it. Just the event of the sow being killed is done in a demented fashion and it shows another symbol. Sows being the female are the one capable of reproducing. When the hunt works its way for the kill, instead of going for the baby pigs, they go for the sow. It shows an end coming to life, and maybe hopes.




Ralph and Jack take power somewhat similarly to the two symbols. Ralph takes up the conch voluntarily and there is no fight with Piggy to obtain it. So, it doesn't surprise to see that Ralph got position of the chief without trying; the votes are purely voluntary of the kids. Jack from the very beginning of the novel tries to force his will into others. The deaths of the sow, symbolizing forced sex portray Jack expressing his will into something else. He eventually uses this technique to get almost all of the people on the island to join his side. From the point of the evil side, they aren't evil. Jack thinks that he is doing something good for the group, but in reality, he is only speeding up chaos all over the island.




One of the powerful symbols used by Jack to gain power is meat. The temptation of meat was too much for even Ralph and Piggy. The meat of the pig leads to the worst events on the island, such as: Simon's death, the group splitting up, and Jack and his followers turning into savages. The out of control dance, which killed Simon, certainly had connections with meat. Meat symbolizes as the fruit in the Garden of Eden while the snake is somewhat played by Jack. Jack is the main hunter without whom there wouldn't be such a need for meat. Meat alone is not something that was a problem, but the knowledge of more meat was. Temptation to have more meat is still with them. Golding shows here that even after so long, we still might be the same.




While the conch and the sow's head are very important symbols, there still remain others. Piggy's glasses and Jack's knife are the most outstanding of minor symbols. Piggy's glasses mean clarity and wisdom. It is also used to make fire, one of the principles, but dangerous technologies of human. Jack's knife shows violence and danger. While at the same time, a knife can be used for useful actions. Over the course of the story, Piggy's glasses are broken, and then taken by Jack. The glasses are then blind, and it defines Jack's actions. In the end, Piggy's glasses, Jack's knife and the sow's head are on the evil side. The conch that stands for order cannot belong in the evil side, thus destroyed. Golding is trying to tell us that evil is stronger than good and even the most good of things have evil in them. The whole novel is about the struggle of good and evil which take the roles of symbols and Ralph and Jack.




Symbols in the novel "Lord of the Flies" take an important role in the plot. The conch being good and the sow's head being evil conflict each other. Something had to give, so the conch is broken into countless pieces. Golding tries to tell us that evil is stronger than good and even the most good people have a dark, evil side to them when not necessarily vice-versa. The conch's power draws on admiration and beauty while the head does the opposite. The head rules the people with terror and fear. As those symbols dictate the balance of good and evil, Jack brings in his trump card, meat. It really doesn't take much for people to switch sides into evil and it worked like a charm for Jack. The technologies brought in from their former world are turned to the evil side, giving evil another triumph. The conflict of good and evil has always existed and Golding demonstrates in his novel how quickly we can adapt back to our primitive sense of judgment.

 

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