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Symbolism In William Golding's "Lord Of The Flies"

1249 words - 5 pages

William Golding's "Lord of the Flies" is a parable novel that demonstrates human nature at its most primal level. Lord of the Flies tells the story of a group of British schoolboys stranded on an island as a result of an airplane crash. Because of the absence of civilization, the boys ultimately resort to barbarism. Golding communicates his belief that man's nature is evil; without the restraints of society, humans will revert to their inner savagery. Golding uses symbolism in Lord of the Flies to develop his theme of evil in the human heart. He uses the conch shell, Piggy's glasses, and the sows head to develop this theme.The conch shell is the first symbol Golding uses to develop his theme of evil in man's heart. At the beginning of the novel, the conch shell serves as a symbol of authority and a means of establishing order. After discovering a cream colored shell on the beach, Ralph blows in it to summon the other boys so they can "have a meeting" (16). After the scattered boys appear, they establish a makeshift system of order and elect Ralph as their "chief" (22). Because Ralph holds the shell, Oldsey and Weintrab believe his role "turns responsible as leadership is thrust upon him" (20). As chief over the island, Ralph makes the rule that if someone holds the conch during an assembly, he is guaranteed the right to speak freely and uninterrupted (33). Fleck suggests that because Ralph possesses the conch, it represents "order" and "fair speech" (32). The boys use the conch shell as an orderly and fair means of communication.After the conch loses its influence over the boys, it eventually breaks (181). Some of them begin to prefer a more savage and unruly way of life. Jack sets off to the other end of the island forming his own tribe. This tribe consists of the boys who just want to hunt for pigs and have a barbaric kind of fun. Ralph and Piggy set off to Jack's side of the island as they try to return to a more civilized form of life (150). Jack tells Ralph that the conch does not "count" at "this end of the island", and he and his tribe will not listen to it. According to Babb, Ralph shows that even a "capacity for leadership" and a commitment to social order" cannot prevent a person's "reversion to savagery under pressure" (110). Chaos takes over when the conch breaks "into a thousand white fragments," and everything it stands for ceases "to exist" (181). Fleck suggests that once the conch shell breaks, "all inhibitions are lost" by the boys (34). Golding's use of the conch shell reveals his theme of evil in the human heart.The next symbol William Golding uses to develop his theme of evil in man's heart is Piggy's pair of glasses. Piggy, the smartest boy on the island, needs his glasses to see. His glasses represent his rational way of thinking. After the crowd of boys start to act unruly by shouting out and ignoring Ralph, Piggy says they are acting "like a crowd of kids" (38). He scolds the boys when they forget to build shelters and put...

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