Choose a novel in which an important theme is explored. Explain how the author develops this theme throughout the novel.
The Lord of the Flies by William Golding is a novel in which the theme of savagery versus civilisation is explored. Some British boys are stranded on an isolated island at the time of an imaginary nuclear war. On the island we see conflict between two main characters, Jack and Ralph, who respectively represent civilisation and savagery. This has an effect on the rest of the boys throughout the novel as they delve further and further into savagery.
The theme of savagery versus civilisation is first introduced to us through the symbol of the conch shell which we associate with Ralph as he is the person who first uses it and becomes the elected leader of the boys. This symbolises authority amongst the boys. At the first assembly Ralph says “I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak…he won’t be interrupted”. This suggests civilisation as Ralph is allowing each boy to have an equal say and opinion. If they have the conch, no matter who they are or what age they are they will be given the chance to speak and will be listened to by the rest of the boys. The boys have created the island to be a democratic place which shows a civilised side to them as they try to mimic the homes they have just left.
Contrasting with the symbol of the conch is the symbol of the beast which comes to be associated with Jack as by the end of the novel he is almost devil worshipping it. The beast begins as a “snake thing” but by the end of the novel it has become “the Lord of the Flies”. The first quote shows us that the beast is clearly evil. Western society considers snakes to be bad omens because it was a snake that led Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge. However at this stage of the novel the beast is quite insubstantial as it is only a “thing”. As the boys fear of the beast grows so to does the beast itself until it has manifested into the devil – the ultimate and most powerful evil. He has a strong status as a Lord although it is over something pretty disgusting – the flies. The boys belief in the beast leads them to behave more like savages as they act out from their fear and they begin to loose hold of the rules, led by Jack, thus demonstrating the theme of savagery.
One of ways Golding shows conflict between savagery and civilisation is when Jack and some of the other boys are killing the first pig. Jack chants “kill the pig, cut her throat, spill the blood”. This suggests savagery as the boys are being violent and aggressive when killing the pig and they don’t care about it. This is particularly clear through Golding’s word choice. Jack talks about cutting the pig’s throat which makes it sound like a savage action and spilling her blood which reinforces the lack of care and feeling shown towards the pug’s carcass. This shows that the boys are no longer feeling guilty about what they have done thus showing them becoming savages.
We can see the conflict between savagery and civilisation developing further when Piggy’s glasses are broken. We are told “Piggy cried out in terror ‘my specs!” This shows us that the boys savage natures are beginning to overule their more civilised sides. At the start of the book Jack would never have dared touch Piggy, but here he actually snaps and goes for Piggy who he despises. We can tell that Piggy is really scared as Golding chooses the words “cried” and “terror” to describe the scene. Piggy sounds like he is hurting and is genuinely terrified about what Jack might do to him and the loss of his sight. Piggy’s glasses have also come to represent intelligence on the island, with them breaking we see that the pathway to savagery is now completely open for the boys. This is the first true piece of violence between the two factions on the island and it will result in nearly all the boys becoming savages.
A final way in which we see the theme of savagery versus civilisation being demonstrated is when Ralph sticks up for Piggy after he is attacked by Jack. Ralph says “that was a dirty trick”. This shows that Ralph is really angry at Jack for what he said and did to Piggy. He is still attempting to impose himself as leader here as he says this in an aggressive and assertive tone. This suggests there is still some glimmers of civilisation on the island at this point as there is still someone with a sense of moral goodness ready to fight for justice.
In conclusion The Lord of the Flies by William Golding is a novel in which the theme of savagery versus civilisation is shown. Ralph represents civilisation as he wants to enforce rules and let everyone have an equal say. Whereas Jack who represents savagery as he rules over the boys and he is not interested in what they have to say. Through the boys actions Golding shows us that we need rules and to consciously impose them to make sure society functions properly.
The Conch Shell
After the plane crash had separated the boys, Ralph and Piggy come across the conch shell lying on the beach and use it to call the group together. In the novel, the conch shell turns into a very prevailing symbol of civilization and order. Afterwards, the conch shell is used in meetings as a control tool for the one who is to speak, whereby, whoever holding it has the command to speak. In this instance, the conch shell graduates from being a symbol to being an instrument of democratic power and political legitimacy. The conch shell seizes being an influential and powerful symbol and instrument among the boys when the sense of civilization fades away and they resort to savagery.
When Ralph is talking about his role in killing Simon, he desperately holds onto the conch shell. Later, when he tries to blow the shell in Jack's camp, the other boys don't pay attention to him and instead throw at stones at him. The remaining sense of civilization amongst the majority of the boys is shredded as Roger rolls a huge rock onto Piggy crushing the shell alongside.
The most rational and intelligent boy in the group is Piggy and a symbol of intellectual endeavor and science in the society is drawn to his glasses. At the beginning of the book, the symbolism of his glasses is highlighted when they use the lenses from his glasses was used to start a fire by focusing the rays of the sun. Ralph's group is rendered helpless when the glasses are lost in the aftermath of a raid from Jack's hunters.
The Signal Fire
The boys light signal fires at two different locations, first in the mountain and later on at the beach, in attempts to signal any passing ship to rescue them. In this event, the signal fire becomes a guide for their connection to civilization in Lord of the Flies fire symbolism essay. When the boys keep the signal fire from burning out, it's a sign that they really want to be rescued and returned to the society. As the fire reduces in intensity, the boys keep on getting comfortable with their savagery on the island and losing the desire to be rescued. On this accord, the signal fire becomes a scale for signifying the amount of remaining civilized instinct. Paradoxically, towards the conclusion, a ship is signaled by a fire to the island but the fire was not any of the two signal fires. The fire that signaled the ship was a savagery fire which was lit by Jack's gang in the quest for Ralph's blood.
An imaginary beast representing the primal savagery instinct existing in all human beings frightens the boys. It's only Simon who realizes that they fear the beast because it exists in each one of them. As the savagery of the boys grows, so does their belief in the beast. Towards the conclusion, they are regarding it as a totemic god and leaving sacrifices for it. As evidenced in Lord of the Flies symbolism essay, their behavior tends to exhibit the image of the beast for the more savage they become the more real beast becomes as well.
The Lord of the Flies
The Lord of the Flies is symbolized by the bloody head of the sow that Jacks plants on a spike in the forest glade. In this Lord of the Flies symbolism essay, it is a complex symbol that turns into the most important image when a confrontation emerges with Simon. In their conversation, the head tells Simon that in every human heart lies evil. The head further promises to have fun with him as a prediction imagery of his death in the following chapter when he is attacked by Ralph and Piggy.
Through the lord of the flies, the best physically manifests as a symbol of power and the devil that brings out the "beast" in every human being. Lord of the Flies symbolism essay thesis parallel contextualizes in a biblical perspective the Lord of the Flies with the devil and Simon with Jesus. On the other hand, the author infers the notion "Lord of the Flies" from the biblical inference of Beelzebub, a very powerful demon, the prince hell.
Lord of the Flies is a metaphorical story in which the characters represent an important theme or idea in the following manner as discussed in the essay about symbolism in lord of the flies:
- Ralph signifies leadership, civilization, and order.
- Piggy signifies the intellectual and scientific elements of civilization.
- Jack denotes uncontrollable savagery and thirst for power.
- Simon symbolizes the general goodness in humanity.
- Roger represents bloodlust and brutality on extreme scales.
Analysis from lord of the flies essay symbolism depicts the boys' group as resembling a political state whereby the young boys are seen as the common people and the older as the leaders and ruling class. The co-existence of the group highlights the connection of the older boys to either the savage or civilized instinct. Ralph and Simon are civilized and apply their power in the interests of the young boys and the progress of the group in general. The savage inclined boys like Roger and Jack direct their powers to selfish interests in the event of using the young boys as instruments of their fun.
Almost every essay about symbolism in Lord of the Flies highlights William Golding's mastery in writing literal works. Symbolism in the book shows the author's message and opinion. That man would quickly resort to their violent tendencies when under pressure and how easy it would be for them to lose their innocence. Lord of the Flies symbolism essay reflects on aspects that unite, divide and progress society.