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Study Notes: Lord of the Flies Essay

All of man will destroy itself. Proving this is William Golding’s purpose in writing “The Lord of the Flies”, a story about a group of boys stranded on a deserted island. When the boy’s priorities clash, a war breaks out between protagonist Ralph and shortsighted antagonist Jack, who instead of being rescued would rather hunt. The fight for power between them soon turns to violence. Golding uses these boys as a scaled down model of what the world is like at war. Golding uses symbolism diction and allegory in “The Lord of the Flies” to prove that man, not natural causes, will lead to his own demise.

Symbolism is the most prevalent supporter of Golding’s purpose in “The Lord of the Flies”. The character of “The lord of the Flies”, which is actually only a pigs head impaled on a stick sharpened at both ends is representative of the devil as shown in the quote “The Lord of the Flies” is a translation of the Hebrew [Beelzebub]…suggested name for the devil (Golding, 205). This quote, coming from the notes section in the back of the text gives a good example of symbolism in directly stating the name of the character and title of the book are actually a name for the devil. Another character in the book is Simon, the opposite of the pig’s head; he is the Christ figure in the book. “Simon, an embryo mystic…fights with all his feeble power against the message of…the human capacities for evil…the knowledge of the end of innocence” (Golding, 207).

Christ’s realization of sins power drove him to death. The same is true for Simon. “The Lord of the Flies” opens Simon’s eyes to the flaw of human immorality and this leads to Simons death. Another powerful symbol in “The Lord of the Flies” is the conch. The conch is actually only a large shell, that when blown into makes a loud noise, but what it represents are the rules and order that they had back home. When Jack and his tribe of biguns breaks away they do not denounce the rules them selves but rather they denounce the conch because it symbolizes the rules.

When Ralph is pleading for the biguns to have some common sense and think about being rescued and not only about hunting an being savages he says “…I’ve got the conch”(Golding, 150), Jack replies “…the conch doesn’t count on this end of the island”. Jack says this to get as much power as he can while forming his new tribe. Golding uses these and many other examples of symbolism to prove his point.

Another way Golding proves his point of human self-destruction is through diction. He uses excellent word choice to convey mood and setting. Golding does a great job of differentiating between violence and beauty through diction. While Simon, Jack, and Ralph are trekking through the woods to determine if the island really is an island they come upon a beautiful clearing in the woods, Simon remarks on some of the flowers “…like candles. Candle bushes. Candle buds; the bushes were dark evergreen, and aromatic…Jack slashed at one with his knife…”(Golding, 30). Golding could have used sliced or cut but he chose “slashed” because it is a particularly violent word, and helps us understand Jack’s personality.

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