Lord of the Flies Symbols

Symbolic analysis of Ralph, Jack, Piggy, Roger, Simon, Sam and Eric, the Littluns, the beast, the conch, the fire, Piggy's glasses, the Lord of the Flies, the island and order vs. savagery.

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  • Created by: Rebecca
  • Created on: 16-11-11 19:25

Ralph

Ralph represents law, order, organised society and moral integrity. He knows right from wrong. At the end of the novel he too realises that man is not a kind creature by nature; anarchy finally hunts down society in the end, but Golding does not let us know which side would win without intervention. When Ralph forgets the initial reason for maintaining the fire it represents the weakening effects corruption has on even the brightest mind. Ralph is sometimes perceived as partially being a literary too to aid the audience’s realisation of inner evil throughout the novel: ‘Ralph wept for the loss of innocence...’ 

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Jack

Jack epitomises the worst aspects of human nature when unrepressed or untempered by society. He represents the irrational nature of the boys and under his rule the baseness of human nature is unleashed. Jack and his tribe represent anarchy. Jack opposes Piggy and is the reason behind his murder to eliminate his moral influence on the group, which conflicts with his own plan to rule with a tribalistic, survivalist morality. Just before his first kill he discovers masks which symbolises his complete retreat from the rules and order of civilisation.

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Piggy

Piggy symbolises knowledge and morality. By frequently quoting his aunt he provides the only female voice. Because his highly intellectual approach to life is modelled on the attitudes and rules of the authoritative adult world, he thinks everyone should share his values and attitudes as a matter of course. As the only boy wearing glasses he has the means to light the fire, which shows that the boys need knowledge and morality to survive. He also seems to represent the quality of reason among the boys and his gradual loss of sight, cracked lens and the glasses finally stolen, and loss of influence which culminates in his death, shows the gradual deterioration of the boys innocence. When Piggy’s glass is smashed it suggests that the group are losing sight of their initial objective: rescue.

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Roger

Roger represents the person who enjoys hurting others (sadist) and is only restrained by the rules of society. When we observe his behaviour on the beach we are told that his hair has grown ‘low on his forehead’ which symbolises his retreat from order and rules and the emergence of his primitive, savage nature.

 

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Simon

Simon represents peace, tranquillity and positivity. Simon’s death represents the loss of truth (as he was the only one who knew the truth about ‘the beast’), innocence and common sense. He is most commonly interpreted as a Christ figure, because of his ability to see through misconception, unlike the rest of the boys.

 

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Sam and Eric

Sam and Eric represent the need humans have for moral support from others. You could also say that they symbolise the weakness of human nature, because they are coerced into joining Jack’s tribe. Since the twins serve as muscle, as strength to be harnessed, they represent the unthinking masses of the people. These masses are peaceable, likeable and good-natured. They elect leaders like Ralph, but they lack morals and understanding of the meaning of events, and so they are easily swayed and persuaded to serve a new leader that comes along. They are almost always talked about as one person.  Their rule is to serve whoever is the leader; they are fickle. They could also represent the ‘tug of war’ within humans.

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Littluns

The littluns represent the innocence of youth. All of the older boys showed allegiances to either good or evil, but the littluns were ignorant and chose their leader of the time based on such knowledge. None of the littluns truly knew what was going on, and this displays how the young are fairly innocent. They are the ‘rest of society’ and go with the flow as they do not think for themselves.

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The beast

The beast represents the evil that resides within a man’s heart. It constantly plagues the littluns as they are the least conditioned by society. Its form changes within the novel and is different for each boy e.g. Simon, the choir/tribe, the dead parachutist, the Lord of the Flies. The real beast, however, is our deep, primeval urges. The boys invent the beast as a fear for them to focus on rather than the darkness in themselves.

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The conch

The conch symbolises democracy and civility. It’s a symbol of the high hand of authority. When it is destroyed it signifies that the authority on the island is gone and the end of order; the boys are savages and Ralph is an outcast. At the beginning it is described as being pure in colour, showing the boys purity and good nature. The colours begin to fade as the novel progresses, the same way that society begins to fade on the island and the boys turn into savages. Jack sees the conch as a symbol of power and tries to get the boys away from it (away from morality). When the conch is ignored it shows the start of the order breaking down on the island.

 

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The fire

The fire represents common sense and rescue from immorality. When the signal fire can no longer be lit, its beacon of hope and knowledge is no longer present to guide Ralph, and Piggy constantly has to remind him about rescue. It has good and bad qualities: good points are rescue, hope, food; bad points are death, chaos and destruction.

 

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Piggy's glasses

Piggy's glasses could symbolise a slow and inescapable descent into anarchy and evil when they are broken and stolen by Jack. It represents clear-sightedness and logical thinking, and when it cracks it represents the lack of clear thinking from the other boys.

 

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The Lord of the Flies

The Lord of the Flies represents the beast’s danger and power. The panic and decay in the story is symbolised by the pig’s head. Created out of fear, the Lord of the Flies used to be a mother sow who was brutally murdered by the tribe. It was at one time clean, loving and innocent, but turns into a manically smiling, bleeding image of horror. This symbolises the decline of the boy’s innocence and morality into savagery. The name ‘Lord of the Flies’ is a literal English translation of Beelzebub, a demonic figure that is often considered identical to the devil.

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The island

The island is a microcosm of the world (miniature version of the world). There is the good side of the island where Ralph leads, which is where the beach is and the landscape is pleasant to reflect the sense of calm and order of Ralph’s leadership style, and the bad side of the island, Castle Rock, where Jack and his tribe live, which is an unforgiving landscape and presented as difficult to reach and unpleasant, reflecting Jack’s evil nature.

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Order vs. Savagery

Order can be shown by: the glasses, representing reason and seeing clearly; the conch, which calls the boys to order; assembly; fire, for rescue and cooking for survival and Piggy, who represents common sense which links to order. He is the only boy, apart from Simon, who remembers their initial objective: rescue.

Savagery can be shown by: Jack’s group of followers, who are known as the choir early in the novel, hunters near the middle of the novel, but the tribe at the end of the book which shows their gradual decline into savagery; war paints and spears; the gradual decline from the accidental death of a littlun early on in the novel and the difficulty of killing the pig to the frenzied attack on Simon and then the final savage murder of Piggy, and Ralph, who was close to being the latest and most horrifying victim of the murderous pack. 

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