Why Did William Golding Name His Novel ‘The Lord of the Flies’?
Golding’s novel comprises many elements of adventure and mystery, but the greatest question surrounding the novel is the very title itself. Unlike other authors, William Golding does not appear to have chosen an appropriate title that deduces the adventure and savagery of the novel, but it is only at a closer look that the title represents the true meaning of the novel.
Although throughout the book the only reference to the title is by “The Lord of the Flies” its small part in the book plays an enormous part of the overall meaning of the novel. We are only introduced to it in chapter 8 ‘Gift for Darkness’, where it is nothing more than the decapitated head of a sow lodged onto a stick. In the text it is described as a rather haunting image, which was:
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…”grinning amusedly in the strange daylight, ignoring the flies, the spilled guts, even ignoring the indignity of being spiked on a stick.”
The author talks about the pig’s head as if it is alive by using language such as “grinning”. Also the way Golding writes “strange daylight” appears that the sow represents the darkness of life, as it is only in the comfort of light that the boys have vision to see it for what it really is. This is as the “Lord of the Flies” represents the fear of the boys for something imaginary, for the beast is nothing more than a voice in their minds. The “Lord of the Flies” is the visual reminded that within all of them is the beast, or a certain darkness which no-one can fight.
However why the flies? In society today flies are often seen as unwanted creatures, as we instinctively seem to swat them away at the mere sight or touch of them. Flies represent the dirt and uncleanliness of the island, as flies feast on excrement and carry disease. As a result of the decay of “The Lord of the Flies”, the flies worship its rotting flesh for food, and life. It is this sight that shows us that “The Lord Of The Flies” is a manifestation of all that is evil. In parallel to this, Simon is the only one who ‘talks’ to “The lord of the Flies” and the flies also touch him as they land on his flesh feeding on his sweat. In a way this creates a link between Simon; the Christ like holy figure and “The Lord of the Flies”; the manifestation of evil.
Nevertheless it was not until I delved deeper into the question that I was able to discover Golding’s genius behind the title of his novel. The title itself is a reference to the Bible since “The Lord of the Flies” is a literal translation of the title given to Beelzebub, meaning the most evil of devils in Hebrew mythology. Therefore this shows us what “The Lord of the Flies” and also the title represents. It shows us that the novel holds the message about the evil within us and within the entire world. It is this evil that destroys happiness, the lives of others and primarily what is corrupting the world.