A study of the symbolism in William Golding's "Lord of the Flies"

Essay by sammi22 September 2004

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I have chosen to write about the symbolism in William Golding's first novel "Lord of the Flies". I chose to write about the symbolism because it is such an important aspect, which runs through the whole book and is crucial to the reader's understanding of the plot and the development of the characters.

The plot is fairly simple but some very complex themes and symbolism are woven into it. The story starts with a group of young boys being marooned on an island previously uninhabited by mankind. They discover they are alone; there are no adults and they struggle to survive and to form a civilised society. This eventually leads to chaos, the breakdown of order and reason and a return to man's most primitive instincts. It is really quite a disturbing book, which makes the reader look at the dark side of man's soul.

The first symbol the reader encounters is the island itself.

It represents the whole world. The island seems like paradise, it reminds us of the biblical Garden of Eden, a place where everything is perfect until humankind arrives. Golding deliberately makes the island remote from the rest of civilisation to allow him to reveal the true nature of the characters and the world they create for themselves.

The boys symbolise the whole of mankind. They create their own little world on the island. Their isolation from the rest of the world allows the author to experiment with them. The characters all remind the reader of people they know and so seem very real.

When Ralph finds the conch he makes it the first rule that whoever has the conch is allowed to speak and everyone else has to listen to them because he realises that they need something to represent authority and rules. This...