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Lord of the Flies Character Analysis

Get to know all of the main characters in the novel by reading our in depth analysis and example essays.

Simon

Simon’s name could be associated with the nursery rhyme character Simple Simon, and Simon Peter, a disciple and close friend of Jesus in the Bible. Simon amazes Ralph and Piggy by stating there might be a Beast on the island but he says “...maybe it’s only us.” It is Simon who speaks to the Lord of the Flies, a symbolic way of expressing the struggle between order and chaos. He is the character who most clearly sees “mankind’s essential illness” and that they won’t succeed on the island. The others think he’s cracked and his fate is to be killed in a mad frenzy involving all the boys, who think he is the Beast.

Ralph

Ralph is a natural leader. He knows Piggy is a better thinker, but would not be accepted as a leader. As the story progresses Ralph’s good sense brings him more and more openly into conflict with Jack and the discipline Ralph represents becomes less and less attractive compared to the thrills Jack offers. Ralph yearns for home and civilisation but as time passes finds them harder to grasp in his mind. When Piggy is murdered he knows he’ll be next and only the arrival of the naval officer saves him from being hunted to death. As Simon predicted, he survived, but “he wept for the end of innocence.”

Jack

Jack is the leader of the choir. He assumes he’ll be leader on the island but Ralph is elected instead. This is the start of their aggressive rivalry. Jack becomes chief of the hunters who form a tribe of their own. As order and democracy begin to collapse, it is Jack who creates and exploits the breakdown. He lets the fire go out, proclaims “Bollocks to the rules!” and uses the fear of the Beast to control his followers, leaving offerings like the pig’s head. It is Jack who most obviously represents the return to primitive ways, even losing his name, being known just as “Chief”. Hunting is more exciting than meetings and fear is stronger than both. Jack becomes a total ruler whose word is a matter of life and death.

Piggy

Even on the island Piggy cannot escape his nickname and the ridicule it brings. His weakness is similarly exploited when his glasses are used to start a fire. He has all the good ideas – the conch, the fire, the need for rescue. He puts his trust in science and the rational but he is mocked for his asthma and his lower class origins. Once Ralph loses authority, Piggy is doomed. In the climactic scene of the novel as Piggy pleads for reason, Roger levers the rock which kills Piggy and simultaneously smashes the conch. This marks the triumph of totalitarianism (a concept where society is rigidly controlled by its leaders), as clearly as Hitler or Stalin achieving power.