‘Lord of the Flies’ is a story of a group of young boys stranded on Coral Island, after enemy forces have shot down their plane. The book was written in 1954, so therefore it is understandable that World War Two will have a major influence in the story. The major idea throughout the book is that of original sin, where the belief is Adam & Eve brought sin into the world and as a result to be sinful is human’s natural tendency. This relates to the characters in the book as many of them begin in a civilised manner but with no restrictions become brutal and barbaric.
‘Lord of the Flies’ is set on a deserted island, giving the perfect setting and opportunity for little boys to follow natural instincts of evil. Golding used this setting to disallow the involvement of any adults in the book until at the end, so as to show the true sides of the boy’s nature. The island itself could be said to symbolise the Garden of Eden, which was uninhabited and beautiful. The fruit on the island also links to the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. When Eve ate the forbidden fruit her lifestyle was made uncomfortable and difficult to stand, the bad fruit on the island caused the boys to be uncomfortable also.
As said before, in ‘Lord of the Flies’, the island could be said to symbolise the Garden of Eden. In addition to the setting, the characters in this book could also be related to biblical characters. As Jack becomes friends with Ralph and both boys take control of the remaining boys, the reader’s attitude towards Jack changes and he is seen as a good person. Jack and Ralph started by working together as a joint force until their paths separated, leaving Jack to become more savage and barbaric in his role of chief hunter. This idea could be said to have biblical references as Christians believe the devil (Lucifer), was one of Gods angels before he broke away, and began to rule over his own group of people.
Golding uses characterisation to help emphasise the story and all the ways in which it could be read. The character of Simon could be linked with the life story of Jesus Christ. Both characters are described as trying to deliver the truth and were both killed because of this. In Simons case this is shown in the lines ‘Simon was crying out something about a dead man on a hill’ ‘There were no words, and no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws’. Piggy and Ralph are the voices of logical thinking and reason, they are cast out as they are realists. Jack is always shown to be vulnerable which he overcomes by using his physical strength. These characters also cover a range of personalities such as Ralph portraying the allies in world war 2 (USA, UK, France, soviet union). Jack as Hitler, Roger as Himmler (personal bodyguard) and Piggy as Einstein.
The Lord of the Flies symbolises the Devil and pure evil. It promotes evil among the boy and uses the voices of many characters in the lines ‘poor misguided child’, ‘they think you’re batty’ and ‘we shall do you’ to push the idea of evil further.
Golding used biblical references and symbolism. In ‘Lord of the Flies’ the lines ‘their voices had been the song of angels’ and ‘demonic figures’ all contain biblical references and vocabulary therefore emphasising the links between the setting and characters in the book and their counterparts in the bible.
Golding also uses allegory connected to the Second World War throughout the book. Due to the time the book was written (soon after the World War 2) all people were exploring issues about good and evil. Many people had lost confidence in the idea of a clear line between good and evil, and the characters in ‘Lord of the Flies’ symbolise this feeling.
Jack could be said to portray Hitler, Ralph is Winston Churchill and the choir are followers of Hitler i.e. The Nazi’s. Using these links it makes the reader realise that however brutal and uncivilised the boys seem, their actions can also be related to modern times.
Still further symbolism is used in ‘Lord of the Flies’ where certain elements are repeated throughout the story. It is therefore obvious that this element is used to symbolise an important idea.
The signal fire on the mountain is a very major aspect in ‘Lord of the Flies’. The fire symbolises rescue and the desire to be saved. When the fire runs low, (like when Jack allowed the fire to go out), the desire for rescue is reduced.
The island symbolises the Garden of Eden, but it may also symbolise isolation and the two sides of mankind. The side of the island, which is ruled over by Jack, symbolises the evil tendency, which is inside all people, and the side of the island ruled over by Ralph represents the good nature of mankind.
The parachutist is another major element in the novel. At the end of chapter 5 Ralph calls out for ‘a sign or something’. His request is answered by the arrival of a deceased parachutist on to the island. The parachutist is the adult that the boys have been waiting for, but as he is dead he cannot even help them. This symbolises the idea that adults cannot always help.
The arrival of the parachutist is also ironic, as it soon believed to be the beast; therefore the arrival of an adult brings increased fear to the island. This links to the idea of the war where while law and order in the adult world decreases, childish chaos grows.
In ‘Lord of the Flies’ the book is completely written in 3rd person. This gives the reader a ‘godlike’ position as they can overlook all events, which occur yet he also seems to allow the reader to focus in on one character thoughts and then turn out to show the actual incident. This is shown very well when Jack and his followers are hunting down Ralph. Ralph doesn’t realise the meaning behind the ‘stick sharpened at both ends’, while the reader understands its meaning.