Symbolism plays a very important roll in stories. It creates abstract ideas and deeper meanings out of simple objects or people, turning stories into much more complex pieces of literature. In Lord of the Flies, many of these are found, making the story mean different things to each individual according to their own point of view and understandings. Lord of the Flies clearly has a deeper meaning into it, and the objects as well as the people are not as simple as they seem. Three symbols that stand out and play an important part in the plot are the symbol of the beastie as fear of the unknown, the conch shell as order and democracy, and the pig head (Lord of the Flies) as the devil and evil.
Although the kids on the island were terrified of the beastie, it was just a product of their imagination. Fear itself, in this case, was the beast that haunted their thoughts and dreams. The beastie is a symbol for fear of the unknown, since the boys were afraid of what they thought was a terrifying monster that could harm them, but little did they know the real monster lived inside them. Simon had the idea that this beast was a psychological one, not a physical one as the boys claimed to have seen. “What I mean isâ€¦maybe it’s only us” (Golding 89), he stated. Many of their claims were vague, and so Simon realized that this had to mean that the beast was probably just an over exaggeration from their part. “The thing is – fear can’t hurt you anymore than a dream” (Golding 82), Jack said while trying to calm everyone down. He was right, fear is alarming and terrifying, but it can’t hurt you more than a dream or a thought can. The beast, in this case, was something that everyone was scared of, including the bigguns. It affected their actions and thoughts, but since they had no proof that it existed, they only had their fear to haunt them. We as humans are scared of things that we can’t, but do sense. This fear is very strong and it can mold our personalities and control our actions, the same way it happened in Lord of the Flies.
This fear that drove everyone to insanity and craziness caused disorder amongst the boys, but there was one object that helped keep this under control. This object was the conch shell. The conch shell was crucial for order, since it called everyone for meetings and gave the person holding it the right to talk. This object was often taken aside. This is why the conch shell symbolizes order and democracy. “We can use this to call the others. Have a meeting. They’ll come when they hear us” (Golding 16), Piggy declared. This statement is pretty straight to the point. It demonstrates how one blow will call, bring, and organize members in the island, and so create order amongst them. Besides this, the conch shell grants the right to speak whenever it is held. This is democracy, since it lets each person speak while everyone listens and have their ideas heard. “I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak. He can hold it when he’s speakingâ€¦and he won’t be interrupted, except by me” (Golding 33), Ralph explained. This clearly sums up the use of this conch. Whoever wields it, speaks. The rest may stay silent and listen. Throughout the story, these rules were often ignored; everyone wanted to be heard, but when chaos took over their discussions, all the opinions and ideas were just soft whispers in the middle of screams. They often forgot the use of the conch shell, which was to discuss matters in an orderly way and that each idea and opinion was heard clearly. This, in a way, resembles the story of “The Golden Kite”. Two towns were fighting and having useless discussions, but the emperor’s daughter put an end to the chaos by ordering both towns to work together to be of equal importance. The emperor’s daughter is like the conch shell. She puts and end to the fight and chaos between both towns, which are the boys in The Lord of the Flies. Then, she puts order into the towns making them both of equal importance (the towns were both equal and all the boys were heard).
Discussions and fear slowly drove everyone crazy, and each one found evil inside of themselves. Simon found a pig head with evil thoughts and scary comments, which released evil into his mind, although he came to the conclusion that it was all in his mind. This pig head, later named “the Lord of the Flies,” is a clear symbol for the devil and evil. By the evil way it talked, it had no good intentions. “There isn’t anyone to help you. Only me. And I’m the Beastâ€¦Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!…You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you? Close, close, close! I’m the reason why it’s no go? Why things are the way they are?”(Golding 143), said the Lord of the Flies. Like the Devil, it convinced Simon that it was part of him. The Devil is someone who lies to people making them think that he is the only one that can save them and that they are all alone. As the Lord of the Flies said, “My poor misguided child, do you think you know better than I do?”(Golding 143), it wants to create fear inside of Simon, fitting into his head the fact that he is too weak and that his level of intelligence is nowhere near his’. This is clearly only a product of evil, and since the devil is the king of evil, the Lord of the Flies must be the symbol of the devil/evil. It is trying to attack Simon in his weakest spots, which is one of the devil’s qualities. It is not clear whether this talking pig was part of Simon’s tortured mind or whether it is completely true, even though Simon realizes it is all in each one’s mind. Either way, it represents the devil since its intentions are not at all good and all it does is talk and make deadly comments. Taking all this in mind, the story “The Scarlet Ibis” can be closely identified with The Lord Of the Flies. Doodle, the main character in the “The Scarlet Ibis” was mentally challenged and society looked down on him because of this. Doodle was looked at as a weak, dumb and not important. This is what the Lord of the Flies did with Simon. It was telling Simon how worthless and insignificant he was compared to him. The pig head could resemble society in this case, with unproductive comments and evil thoughts and ideas. The pig head was clearly evil, and it reflects the attitude of the devil.
The symbol of the beastie as fear of the unknown, the conch shell as order and democracy and the pig head as the devil play important parts in the story, since it explains these with deeper meanings. Symbolism in general makes stories more meaningful and complex. It takes simple ideas and events to stand for something else and so explain the real meaning and roll of that specific object or person. The symbolism in Lord of the Flies, especially, changes the whole outlook of the story when the symbolism is known. Identifying simple objects or people with elaborate meanings can make readers understand the story better, even with their own point of view and understandings of the story. Without symbolism, stories would have a dull meaning that would only stand for itself, rather than for more complex ideas.
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