Symbolism is a very important factor in many books. The use of symbolism in William Golding’s novel The Lord of the Flies is the most essential aspect to the function of the story. At first glance you may not think the symbols are very important, but with some in-depth thought you can see how it is necessary to explain the microcosm of an island. The conch shell is the opening symbol in the novel and lasts roughly to the very end of the story. The conch is found by Ralph and Piggy, which they use to summon the boys together after the crash. “We can use this to call the others.
Have a meeting. They’ll come when they hear us—” (Golding 16). The conch represents civilization and order on the island. In the start the conch is given to a boy to hold when he has the power to speak among the boys. “I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak. He can hold it when he’s speaking” (Golding 33). So not only is the conch a symbol but also an actual craft of political authenticity and democratic power. As the boys descend into savagery the conch loses its authority and control among the boys causing the life of the boys to go from order to chaos in a matter of short time.
The conch’s power is at its final point when it is destroyed by Roger when he pushes a boulder down castle rock colliding into Piggy who at the time was holding the conch. Piggy is murdered while the conch is smashed into smithereens. This gruesome event signifies the termination of the civilized instinct of almost all of the boys on the island. Piggy is the most intellectual and rational person out of all the boys and his glasses represent the power of science and intellectual endeavor in society. The glasses are used to start a signal fire on the top of the mountain by using the means of the sun. Jack pointed suddenly. His Specs—use them as burning glasses! ” (Golding 40). Jack uses piggy’s specs to light the fire demonstrating his intellect and science of being able produce fire, without the power of the glasses there would be no signal fire to light. In addition to the glasses the signal fire is also a symbol; the fire is the barometer of the boy’s connection to civilization. When the fire is maintained, the boys want to be rescued. However, when the fire burns low or goes out it symbolizes how the boys have lost sight of their desire to be saved, and how they have accepted savagery into their lives.
The signal fire also symbolizes the measurement of the strength of the civilized instinct and hope remaining on the island. He tried to remember. “Smoke,” he said, “we want smoke. ” He turned on the twins fiercely. “I said ‘Smoke’! We’ve got to have smoke. ” There was silence, except for the multitudinous murmur of the bees. At last piggy spoke, kindly. “’Course we have. ’Cos the smokes a signal and we can’t be rescued if we don’t have smoke. ” “I knew that! ” shouted Ralph. He pulled his arm away from Piggy. “Are you suggesting—? ” “I’m just saying what you always say,” said Piggy hastily. I’d thought for a moment—” “I hadn’t,” said Ralph loudly. “I knew it all the time. I hadn’t forgotten. ”; (Golding 173) This passage is a demonstration of loss of hope and the strength of civilized instinct. Ralph’s hope has decreased when there is no one beside him but a few biguns and a few littluns, his strength of civilized instinct diminishes causing him to forget why there needed to be a signal fire in the first place, until Piggy reminds him of the fact. He proclaims he did not forget even though he did, however he does not own up to it.
The beast that frightens the boys stands for the primal instinct of savagery that exists within all human beings. The boy’s behavior in the novel is what brings the beast to existence. “‘We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all, we’re not savages. We’re English, and the English are best at everything'” (Golding 42). They start out not being savages and not believing in the beast but while they do more and more destructive deeds, the savageness in them builds up creating the beast. As they grow more savage, the belief in the beast grows stronger. [The hunters’ thoughts were] crowded with memories… of the knowledge… that they had outwitted a living thing, imposed their will upon it, taken away its life like a long satisfying drink” (Golding 70). In the beginning of the novel they are well behaved civilized little boys and as the book continues they become vicious and bloodthirsty except for a couple of them. The reason as to why they become vicious is because the beast is inside of them; it is not an actual living creature. “Maybe there is a beast…. maybe it’s only in us” (Golding 89).
The fear in them causes the beast, which in turn causes the savagery of the boys on the island. Without fear there would be no savagery. The lord of the flies is the most important symbol in the novel. When Simon confronts the sow head it tells him that evil lies within every human heart. He than tells Simon he is going to have “fun” with him, which foreshadows Simons death in the next chapter. The lord of the flies becomes both the physical manifestation of the beast, symbol of the power of evil, and a Satan figure that evokes the beast within each human being.
Lord of the flies recalls the devil, while Simon recalls Jesus Christ. Golding is saying that no matter what evil will always triumph over good, because the lord of the flies tells Simon his death. The name the lord of the flies translates to the biblical name Beelzebub, which is known as a powerful demon in hell; sometimes thought to be the Devil himself. The Devil is known all around the world as the power of evil, and so in the book the lord of the flies is known to symbolize the power of evil. The main characters in the book symbolize different parts of society.
Ralph represents order, leadership, and civilization; Piggy represents scientific and intellectual aspects of civilization, Simon represents natural goodness in society, Jack represents savagery and the desire for power in society, and Roger represents brutality and bloodlust in their most extreme. The island symbolizes a political state; the littluns symbolize the common people, while the older boys symbolize the ruling class and political leaders. The older civilized boys Simon, Ralph and Piggy use their power to protect the littluns and to advance in what they need to do.
They also do what is best for the groups as a whole instead of what is best for the older boys. While the older savage boys Roger and Jack use their power to make the littluns do what they want for their own desires and wants, instead of looking out for what is best for the group as a whole. Every symbolism used in the book The Lord of the Flies is the most essential aspect to the function of the story. Without the preceding symbols it would not prove the transitions from moral to chaos. Golding used symbolism throughout the book to represent the state of society and how it can slowly change to an immoral microcosm.