Lord of the Flies: The Darkness of Man's Heart

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Lord of the Flies: The Darkness of Man’s Heart

        William Golding’s Lord of the Flies is more than a tale about a group of boys stranded on an island during World War II. Life free from rules of society and adults seems like paradise, but it quickly turns into hell on earth. The boys face the ultimate challenge of remaining civilized without supervision or guidelines. Many elements are found within Lord of the Flies: breakdown of civilization, avoidance of truth, and assumed innocence. These elements appear to be the message Golding is trying to convey. However, carefully analyzing the novel, the reader is able to detect symbolism. The author hides powerful messages behind his characters and other objects on the island. Through the use of symbolism, Golding reveals that humans detached from society’s rules allow their innate evil to dominate their existence.

        By introducing the characters of Ralph and Piggy, Golding shows his first use of symbolism. He introduces them as well-bred British boys and uses them to reflect man’s nature within society. Ralph represents civilized man, and Piggy symbolizes the intelligence of civilization. Ralph is elected leader because he has the appearance, common sense, and his possession of the conch makes him respected (Golding 22). Since he has been elected leader, he is able to enforce rules to govern the island. These rules include: building shelters, collecting drinking water, keeping the rescue fire lit, and proper sanitation (Golding 80-81). Even though Ralph has possession of the conch and is the chosen leader, he relies on Piggy’s intellect.  Piggy knows that their arrival on the island has something to do with the war (Fitzgerald and Kayser 82).  He also knows the shell is a conch and its use. Due to their plane crash, he realizes that there are other survivors on the island. Therefore, he instructs Ralph to blow the conch in order to gather the others (Fitzgerald and Kayser 81).  Piggy is intelligent, but he has many shortcomings: unable to enforce rules, obese, asthmatic, lacks common sense and is unable to empathize with the group (Fitzgerald-Kayser 83), and unable to express his thoughts (Dicken-Fuller 15). Piggy’s shortcomings solidifies him as an outcast and the subject of mockery; he is a product of civilization but incapable of becoming a leader.

        It is no surprise that Golding allows these two to discover the conch shell, which is used to represent assembly and rational behavior (Dicken-Fuller 15-16) (Kinkhead-Weekes and Gregor 18). It was the discovery of the conch that brought Ralph and Piggy together, and their meeting is the first assembly. The first time Ralph blows the conch, the boys dispersed all over the island automatically respond and rush toward the sound, and the group is unified. Ralph sets a new rule regarding the conch: anyone with possession of the shell has the right to speak. This requires the boys to act civilized during an assembly. Since the boys have been recently placed out of society, their mannerly conduct remains intact which allows them to respect the conch and obey the rules Ralph has set.  

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        As the novel progresses, civility fades and the reader realizes that the boys’ true nature was covered by the rules of society. Golding uses Jack’s character to represent the acceptance of primitiveness and disregard for civilized behavior. When Jack allows his beast, his innate evil, to master him, he no longer has the desire to surround himself with civility. Jack uses his savagery, power, persuasion, and hunting skills to entice others to join him in exercising their beasts. This causes the once unified group to separate: democracy and rational society led by Ralph and the dictatorship, barbaric tribe led by ...

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