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Lord of the Flies as an Allegory Essay

The Lord of the Flies if read at face value can be interpreted as short book about the struggle to survive on a deserted island and its physical and psychological impacts on its inhabitants. But when the reader looks deeper, they see a novel that is an allegory that is filled with rich and detailed symbolism in almost all aspects of the book. An allegory is defined a type of writing that presents abstract ideas or moral principals in the form of symbolic characters, events, or objects. “The theme is an attempt to trace the defects of society back to the defects of human nature” (Golding 204). The novel begins as our protagonist wanders along the beach.

Ralph represents leadership, order, and civilization for the island. He uses his power for the good of the people, especially to protect the “littluns.” The littluns represent the people ruled by a government. In their case, the “bigguns” (the older boys), take advantage of the little boys and soon neglect them entirely.

As the conch was blown “A deep harsh note boomed under the palms, spread through the intricacies of the forest and echoed back from the pink granite of the mountain” (Golding 17). Giving off a mighty sound, the conch also possessed the qualities of authority, unity, and power. When the society is formed, the boy who holds the conch is the only one allowed to speak. Jack first instituted this when he said “I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak” (Golding 33). As the story progresses, the conch looses its power and influence over the

children and is eventually crushed when Piggy is trampled by a boulder. This marks the end of any democratic and civilized society on the island.

Piggy represents intelligence and mortality. He acts with reason like a grownup would in his situation. Besides acting like a parent figure, Piggy also provides leadership before and after the tribe is split in half. “But nobody else understands that about the fire. If someone threw you a rope when you were drowning. If a doctor said take this because if you don’t take it you’ll die- you would, wouldn’t you? Can’t they understand? Without the smoke signal we’ll die here?” (Golding 139).

The signal fire is another symbol that changes to reflect the downward spiral of the children. The fire was instituted by Ralph and Piggy as an attempt to draw attention in hopes of rescue. The fire can be seen as a connection to civilization and as civilization itself. When the fire burns well at a normal pace, the island is at peace. “We’ve got no fire. That thing just sits up thereƒ{ we’ll have to stay here” (Golding 129). But when the fire is out, the boys seen to loose interest in civilization and revert to primitive, savage beings, which cause problems for the fragile island society. Oddly the fire that brings about the boy’s rescue is not the signal fire, but a forest fire started by Jack to drive Ralph out into the open. The fire symbolizes power and the leadership of the tribe, as it provides warmth and heat for cooking. When Jack gains the ability to make fire, he seizes control of the tribe.

Piggy’s glasses allow for the creation of all fire on the island. The glasses symbolize science and intelligence and their impacts on society. The glasses also play a pivotal role in the foreshadowing of the chaos that will eventually ensue on the island. “Jack smacked Piggy’s head. Piggy’s glasses flew off and tinkled on the rocks. Piggy cried out in terror: ‘My specs'” (Golding 71). The breaking of Piggy’s glasses can be considered the start of the events

that will cause the island to descend into complete and inescapable chaos led by Jack’s anarchy.

Jack Merridew represents a thirst for power and savagery comparable to primal instincts. Jack uses his power for pleasure only, slowly evolving into a total dictator by the time the tribe splits. “There isn’t a tribe for you anymore! I’m chief” (Golding 181). Jack cannot accept compromises in his authority and systematically takes part in, if not responsible for, the deaths of those who oppose him in his path to power. Jack uses the beast as a means to hunt more often and later gain power.

The beast is nothing but the evil and primal instincts imbedded deep within all of us. Everyone on the island is afraid of it, while in reality it is simply does not exist. It appears that the more the boys act savagely, the more real the beast becomes. Soon the boys start to worship the beast and leave offerings to the beast. This head is for the beast. It’s a gift” (Golding 137).

The lord of the flies is the gift left for the beast. It’s a bloody pig’s head on a stick. The lord of the flies is a physical manifestation of evil who invokes the inner beast within us all. When Simon speaks to the lord of the flies, its true nature is revealed. “You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you” (Golding 143).

Throughout the story Golding uses his characters, objects and events as symbols to get a deeper meaning across. The book weaves a compelling tale of optimism against the darkest side of human evil. Even though the novel shows that evil in every person exists, the basic human goodness still appears to prevail when all is said and done. The Lord of the Flies is truly a modern classic with a message for everyone.

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