Symbolism in "Lord of the flies by William Golding

Essay Topic:

The tragic symbolism of William Goldings Lord of the flies.

Essay Questions:

What is the role of the best in terms of the message of the whole novel?

Why does the symbolism of Piggys glasses play such an important role in the general symbolism of the Lord of the flies?

How do the symbols of the beast and the glasses reveal the depth of the social tragedy of the novel?

Thesis Statement:

The symbolism of Piggys glasses and the beast are essential for the message of William Goldings Lord of the flies.


Introduction: It is common knowledge that very often the author shares his message with the reader with the help of certain symbols. William Golding’s “Lord of the flies” is not an exception. One of the brightest symbolic aspects of the book is the symbol of Piggy’s spectacles.

As Piggy is described as an intellectually gifted boy as he posses knowledge about different scientific facts nobody remembers or even knows about. His glasses with the help of which the fire is started represent the scientific and intellectual power of the society he has been raised in. He uses the lens of the spectacles and the sun to get fire. Once the glasses are stolen the power is transmitted to Jack – as now he is the only one who can set a fire

Another symbol of William Golding’s “Lord of the flies” is the “beast” all the boys are afraid of. This imaginary “beast” as revealed by Simon is nothing but the “beast” they all have become. The unleashed “the beasts” inside them leaving no place for civilized human relations lead them to becoming a primitive tribe who goes for totemism. They are afraid not of the beast but of themselves, their primitive survival instincts and the consequences the might have for themselves.

The characters themselves also become symbolic as they represent the aspects of the society where Ralph is a decent civilized citizen, who respects the order (the law); Piggy is the science and the intellectual heritage of the society; Simon shows how good people can be; Roger represents the brutality of the society. And all of them reveal how the search for power turns people into “primitive animals”.

The last but not the least symbol of the novel if the “Lord of the flies” after which the novel is named for. “Lord of the flies” is nothing but a head of an owl which becomes an offering for the “beast”. It is this very head the actually “tells” and revels the truth about the “beast” to Simon. It shows the reader that the true devil is the man and not some beast. All of the symbols listed above have an allegoric character and ridicule the society showing what heritage is transmitted for denegation to generation and that this heritage is nothing but social degradation.

Conclusion: All of the symbols listed above are crucial for the message which is delivered in William Golding’s “Lord of the flies” as they reveal the depth of the social tragedy and  its degradation resulting in the bloodlust and ability to kill just to get “a piece of meat”.


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