Lord of the Flies is a thought-provoking novel about a group of English school boys who are stranded on a desert island. The book follows the striking change from civilisation to savagery, to illustrate the need for law and order in a society. Without this, the malicious nature of humanity can be revealed and the morality and values of life will be lost.
Symbolism and imagery play an important role in the novel and through this, many themes are revealed. Throughout the book, the different characters and their roles are portrayed by a strong contrast in writing style and language chosen to describe them and their actions.A good example of this is Jack, described in the forest at the beginning of Chapter three, and Simon, described also in the forest, at the end of Chapter three. Jack is a prominent character with an unpleasant personality.
His authority is expressed by his leadership of the choir who are now his hunters, and his will to be called by his surname at the boys’ first meeting. Jack loves ordering people around and constantly attempts to weaken others, with Piggy being his usual victim. The freedom of the island makes it possible for him to reveal the darker sides of his personality which he had hidden up to now.Because of this, he is able to quickly make the transition to savagery.
Jack is a natural, self-assured leader who is always ready to fight. He is a symbol of evil and brutality and his natural desire to kill is brought out by his hunting of pigs. Simon, on the other hand, is a curious figure who sees beyond the surface of things. We learn straight away, that there is something special about Simon.
It was because of this uniqueness that he was chosen by Ralph to be among the three explorers of the island.Simon enjoys being alone and is someone who spends much of his time observing the actions of others and learning from them. He keeps his thoughts to him and is a not very sociable with the other boys. Simon is a very kind and helpful boy and symbolizes goodness and hope within ? ”Lord of the Flies’.
We soon realize that he is the most reliable of the boys and the peace-maker of the group. However, Simon is not weak and we see on many occasions later on in the novel, how he stands up to Jack, and shows compassion towards the weaker members of their society, such as Piggy.In Chapter three, when each boy is alone in the forest on separate occasions, it is no coincidence that Jack and Simon are there in such different circumstances and using contrasting imagery. Golding writes the novel so that characters, who strongly dominate the plot at any given time, are associated with the mood and imagery of their surroundings.
Therefore, by studying the language used to describe the boys in these passages, we are able to learn a lot about their character and role in the novel. At the beginning of Chapter three, Jack has left the other hunters and instructed them to go back to the platform.He has entered the forest alone, and his yearning to kill is beginning to eat him up. Jack has lost his fear of blood and of killing living animals that we saw at the end of Chapter one, “They knew very well why he hadn’t: because of the enormity of the knife descending and cutting into living flesh; because of the unbearable blood.
” Jack is the first boy in whom we see signs of savagery appearing in his character, as the bonds of civilisation that hold him down begin to break. When Golding writes about Jack in the forest, dark imagery is the key theme, and this is used to represent evil.Ever since the first description of Jack at the first meeting, darkness and gloom seems to surround him, “He turned quickly, his black cloak circling. ” I think Golding uses this to suggest the potential for evil which at that time lay dormant in Jack’s character.
By the beginning of Chapter three, we start to see this evil nature being portrayed. Darkness surrounds Jack in the forest: “in a green dusk”, “into the semi-darkness”. In addition to this, the humidity of the forest makes the reader feel uncomfortable, “the humid earth”. The feeling of the forest being separate to Jack is emphasised in the conjunction ? ‘and’ when, “The forest and he were very still.
“Also, the forest is silent suggesting hostility, and this silence is only broken when, “Jack himself roused a gaudy bird from a primitive nest of sticks. ” The cry which the bird let out is “harsh” which is quite a violent and unpleasant noise to come out of complete silence and it is relevant that Jack caused it to occur. Perhaps the forest is trying to suggest to Jack that he is unwelcome there. The forest appears to be threatening to Jack and makes him feel uncomfortable to be alone, “Jack himself shrank at this cry with a hiss of indrawn breath.
In this case, Jack is in fact reacting as an animal would. As I discuss later in the essay, Jack is taking on animal qualities. The smell in Jack’s forest is also not very pleasurable. It is that of pigs’ droppings which “steamed a little”, yet Jack seems to relish this aspect.
When we learn about Simon’s encounter in the forest at the end of Chapter three, similar things, such as the sounds and smells, are described, as in Jack’s encounter. However, the slight differences create a different impression. When Simon entered the forest alone and unafraid he also walked with “an air of purpose”.Simon wants to be alone in the forest and does not feel threatened by it at all.
This is shown as Simon is found is a far more beautiful scene with fruit trees, flowers, and honey bees ? ”buzzing’. Through this, the good spirit always accompanying Simon is expressed. In contrast to Jack’s dark imagery, light, symbolizing hope and goodness, is related to Simon throughout the novel. At the end of Chapter one, we see Simon’s first association with light, “Like candles.
Candle bushes. Candle buds. ” When Simon is in the forest there are also many references to light.As dusk and night approach, light appears to surround Simon: “The candle-buds opened their wide white flowers glimmering under the light that prickled down from the first stars.
” The description is filled with a sense of awe for nature which flourishes all around Simon. He is at one with the forest and its beautiful elements, “Soon high jungle closed in”. Unlike in Jack’s description, where the forest is threatening Jack, the forest is protecting Simon. There is much noise when Simon is in the forest, in contrast to Jack’s silence.
There is “the booming of a million bees at pasture” and “the sounds of the bright fantastic birds.Once again ? ”gaudy’ is used in Golding’s description of Simon in the forest. However, this time it is to describe, “a pair of gaudy butterflies”. In contrast to Jack, the butterflies do not flee from Simon.
They “danced around each other in the hot air. ” They are at one with Simon and nature is at one with him. The smell when Simon is in the forest is pleasant; “everywhere was the scent of ripeness”. Also the scent of the candle-buds “spilled out into the air and took possession of the island.
” I think the pleasantness and beauty of Simon’s forest symbolises peace and love and the aura of goodness which surrounds him.In both passages, a physical description of the boys is given. Although these have many similarities, the symbolism behind the slight differences is quite significant. Jack’s freckles are described as being “dark”, again adding to the dark imagery which seems to surround Jack in his description.
His sunburn is said to be “peeling” which adds an image of redness to Jack’s character. This could possibly signify rage and lack of control. Simon’s sunburn is also described, but this time it is, “a deep tan that glistened with sweat. ” This does not have the same connotation as Jack’s red sunburn.
Everything about Simon seems to be attractive as even his sunburn “glistens”. In the passages, both boys are wearing similar clothing. However, the slight difference between the two descriptions is very telling. Jack is said to be naked “except for a pair of tattered shorts held up by his knife-belt”, whereas Simon “wore the remains of shorts”.
I feel that it is significant that Jack is wearing a knife belt. Knives are implements of fighting, and Jack is also described as having “a sharpened stick about five feet long”. This shows that Jack is willing to fight and is prepared to kill.The adjectives used to describe Jack are always more aggressive than those used to describe Simon perhaps trying to convey his overall aggressive nature.
Jack’s eyes are used in the novel to portray his emotions. In Jack’s first description his eyes were, “light blue” and “frustrated now, and turning, or ready to turn, to anger. ” This immediately showed us Jack’s short temper. When Jack is in the forest, his eyes are again said to be “bright blue, eyes that in this frustration seemed bolting and mad.
” This shows his desire to kill and his dissatisfaction that he is unable to do so.The blue colour of his eyes described on both occasions, symbolise the potential for goodness that Jack, and indeed all mankind hold. Later in the novel, Jack’s eyes are said to be ? ”opaque’, symbolizing that this potential has been lost; the evil residing within his character has taken over. Simon’s eyes are said to be “so bright they had deceived Ralph into thinking him delightfully gay and wicked.
” Although both sets of eyes are said to be bright, Jack’s depict anger and Simon’s deceive others so they do not see his true character.The other boys think that Simon is ? ‘batty’, however they really just don’t understand him. His actions are misinterpreted and his ideas rejected, simply because the boys do not understand the level of thought to which Simon is on. Simon indeed, throughout the course of the book, learns far more about the island, the boys and the beastie, than any of the others.
The movement of Jack is described as swift and deceiving, and this prevents the reader from trusting or admiring Jack. In contrast to this, every move that Simon makes is slow and delicate, “He walked with accustomed tread”, “he picked his way up the scar”.Golding’s description of Jack is filled with many animal references. Jack is said to be, “dog-like, uncomfortable on all fours yet unheeding his discomfort”.
He closes his eyes and raises his head, breathing in “gently with flared nostrils, assessing the current of warm air for information. ” I believe that Golding is trying to create an image of a character which is ruled by instinct and brutality. Jack is learning to hunt similar to an animal through relying on his senses of smell, sight, sound and movement. He sniffs at the warm, steamy pig droppings, hoping to gain a clue to the whereabouts of his prey.
Jack is in fact dismissing his human inclinations and becoming more barbarian. Any form of civilisation which is left in his character is being discarded and Jack is becoming a savage. Later in the novel, in Chapter four, we see Jack putting on a mask to enable him to reveal his true personality. The island allows him to break free from civilisation as there is nothing holding him back any longer.
The savage traits within Jack’s personality which are shown when he is in the forest are taking over his soul, and when Jack puts on his mask, he feels as though he is given a new identity.He is no longer the Jack Merridew, the lead choir boy, but a barbarian hunter. When Jack is in the forest he does not think of his prey as a living creature. It is merely described as, “the promise of meat”.
Similar to Jack’s previous hunting session at the end of Chapter one, Jack fails to kill his prey when he is in the forest. However, this simply serves to fuel his determination. When we learn about Jack advancing on his victim, the language suggests that it is not just the pig being hunted. There is a feeling that something is preying on Jack, though we do not learn what it is.
Later in the Chapter, when Jack, Ralph and Simon are discussing the Beastie, and the effect it is having on the littluns, Jack tells Ralph of this feeling: “If you’re hunting sometimes you catch yourself feeling as if? ‘….
. you’re not hunting, but-being hunted, as if something’s behind you all the time in the jungle. ” The beast which is described in ? ”Lord of the Flies’ symbolises the evil residing in everyone. I believe that this quotation is very telling because there is in fact something hunting Jack and indeed all the boys on the island.
The dark side of human nature is preying on the good side.During the course of the novel, we see this evil side to Jack’s and many of the other boys’ character growing. Up to now it has been held down by civilisation. Simon is probably the least susceptible to this spirit, and we see little change in his character during the book.
When Simon is in the forest, he comes to the aid of the ? ”littluns’ who are the weak and feeble members of their society and “found for them the fruit they could not reach, pulled off the choicest from up in the foliage, passed them back down to the endless, outstretched hands.This is intentionally done to portray Simon’s compassion for others as we would never see Jack placed in a similar scenario. I feel that it is also a reminder of when Jesus carried out one of his most magnificent miracles and managed to feed 5000 people with only 5 loaves of bread and two fish. Through this, I feel that we are meant to see Simon as a Christ-like figure who expresses Christian ideas.
Like Jesus, Simon is also wandering off into the wilderness. However, it is clear that Golding did not intend Simon to be Jesus, as there are many differences between the pair.One of these, and probably the key difference is Simon’s lack of ability to speak in public, “Simon became inarticulate in his effort to express mankind’s essential illness. ” Simon views the forest as a place of beauty and tranquillity where he can go to be alone and meditate.
He shows himself to be the one character that has an affinity with nature and wherever Simon walks, there seems to be a certain glow and brilliance. Unlike Jack, he gives of himself without greed or desire for power and authority. He is described as almost supernatural in force and he is never afraid.Although Simon is quiet and private, a certain goodness and purity about him is revealed when he is in the forest, and he is shown for the first time to have a certain power and wisdom of his own.
Everyone has the potential to display acts of an evil nature. However, we also have the ability to prevent them from being shown. I believe that together Jack and Simon’s character symbolize the two extremes of human nature; goodness and evil. Both reside in every one of us, but it is up to each of us as to how we control them, and it is this, which differentiates us from our neighbour.
During Simon’s description, Golding often adds “like Jack” at the end of a sentence to show his eagerness for us to pick up on the symbolism and the roles which are portrayed in the two boys. It is no mistake that similar actions and descriptions are portrayed in such a way to symbolize different characteristics and roles which the two boys hold. I believe that we are encouraged to compare the two characters, so that we are able to learn from them how greatly mankind can differ. ?”Lord of the Flies’ is a truly magnificent and meaningful book where Golding writes every sentence, places every image and inserts every symbol with precision.