Lord of the Flies – Symbolism

In the book, Lord of the Flies, the author frequently uses symbolism. Symbolism-n 1: the art or practice of using symbols esp. by investing things with a symbolic meaning or by expressing the invisible or intangible by means of visible or sensuous representations. In other words, discussing or explaining a broader, more general topic by linking it symbolically with a specific event in a literary work. The superb use of symbolism in the book is one of the contributing factors to the profoundness of Lord of the Flies. This book is peppered with examples of symbolism, but the ones that stand out the most are: The breaking of Piggys spectacles, the representation of the littluns and Jack as the “people” and the government, and Simons conversation with the Lord of the Flies.

The breaking of Piggys spectacles meant much more than the mere marring of a pair of glasses. Ralph made a step forward and Jack smacked Piggys head. Piggys glasses flew off and tinkled on the rocks. “One sides broken.” This is somewhat of a turning point in the book. The breaking of Piggys spectacles symbolizes a mark at which rational influence decays as the story progresses. To better understand this, you must first know that Piggy himself is symbolized a grown-up figure, with intelligence and common sense. Looking back on the story, one can begin to realize how true this is. After Piggys glasses are broken, the fabric that holds the island society together begins to dissolve and everything goes awry. This discussion is perhaps the single most important part of the story, and may also be the most difficult part to understand.

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Another subtle, but important symbolization is the representation of the littluns as the “people”, and Jack as the government. By using this symbolization, the author tries to express what he feels is wrong with modern government. This symbolization is shown in the book by a statement made by Jack. “What about the littluns?” “Sucks to the littluns!” “Somebody has to look after them” “Nobody has so far.” By this, the author makes reference to the government (Jack), and how government officials disregard its “people” (littluns).

The most deeply symbolic event in the book, is Simons discussion with the pigs head, or the Lord of the Flies. “-and his gaze was held by that ancient, inescapable recognition. This statement is crucial to understanding the theme of Lord of the Flies. What the author means, is the inescapable recognition of human capacities for evil. And when the pigs head said, “Im part of you?”, the author meant to convey that the capacity for evil is in all of us.

The genius of the author, William Golding, can be clearly seen by looking at the book, Lord of the Flies, in a more profound way of thinking. To truly understand and enjoy this wonderful story, the reader must look at the deeper meaning of the book, rather than simply reading the book in a superficial way. Because of the authors expert use of symbolism, we can see that the breaking of Piggys glasses, Simons conversation with the Lord of the Flies, and the representation of the littluns and Jack as the “people” and the government, mean much more than what they appear to be.


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