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Symbolism In Lord of the Flies

Symbolism played an important part in the development of story. This narrative technique is used to give a significance to certain people or objects, which represent some other figure. The following table lists many of the examples of symbolism used throughout Golding's book.




Piggy (and Glasses)

Clear-sightedness, intelligence. Their state represents the status of social order.

Ralph, The Conch

Democracy, Order


Pure Goodness, "Christ Figure"


Evil, Satan


Savagery, Anarchy

The Island

A microcosm representing the world

The "Scar"

Man's destruction, destructive forces

The Beast

The evil residing within everyone, the dark side of human nature.

Lord of the Flies

The Devil, great danger or evil


There are many other aspects in the story that may be considered symbolism, but the several above are probably the most significant. Another good example of symbolism, brought to my attention by a site visitor, is the shape of the island. The boat shape of the island is an ancient symbol of civilization. The water current around the island seems to be "flowing backwards," giving the subtle impression that civilization may be going backwards for the island or its inhabitants. Additionally, another reader pointed out that Jack could also represent Communism or Fascism. Golding was influenced by events during the time period that the book was written, which was around World War II.

William Golding presented numerous themes and basic ideas that give the reader something to think about. One of the most basic and obvious themes is that society holds everyone together, and without these conditions, our ideals, values, and the basics of right and wrong are lost. Without society's rigid rules, anarchy and savagery can come to light.

Golding is also showing that morals come directly from our surroundings, and if there is no civilization around us, we will lose these values.

Other secondary themes include the following:

  • People will abuse power when it's not earned.
  • When given a chance, people often single out another to degrade to improve their own security.
  • You can only cover up inner savagery so long before it breaks out, given the right situation.
  • It's better to examine the consequences of a decision before you make it than to discover them afterward.
  • The fear of the unknown can be a powerful force, which can turn you to either insight or hysteria.

Miscellaneous Information
William Golding obviously was influenced by several other authors in his creation of Lord of the Flies. His references to Coral Island and the use of the names Jack and Ralph are both derived from Robert Ballantyne's Coral Island. He has also had influence from the likes of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Jules Verne. Golding, however, held a much more negative outlook on human nature, which he expressed in his works, beginning with Lord of the Flies.


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