Symbols and Symbolism in Lord of the Flies

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Symbolism in Lord of the Flies In William Golding's Lord of the Flies, the boys who are stranded on the island come in contact with many unique elements that symbolize ideas or concepts. Through the use of symbols such as the beast, the pig's head, and even Piggy's specs, Golding demonstrates that humans, when liberated from society's rules and taboos, allow their natural capacity for evil to dominate their existence. One of the most important and most obvious symbols in Lord of the Flies is the object that gives the novel its name, the pig's head. Golding's description of the slaughtered animal's head on a spear is very graphic and even frightening. The pig's head is depicted as "dim-eyed, grinning faintly, blood blackening between the teeth," and the "obscene thing" is covered with a "black blob of flies" that "tickled under his nostrils" (William Golding, Lord of the Flies, New York, Putnam Publishing Group, 1954, p. 137, 138). As a result of this detailed, striking image, the reader becomes aware of the great evil and darkness represented by the Lord of the Flies, and when Simon begins to converse with the seemingly inanimate, devil-like object, the source of that wickedness is revealed. Even though the conversation may be entirely a hallucination, Simon learns that the beast, which has long since frightened the other boys on the island, is not an external force. In fact, the head of the slain pig tells him, "Fancy thinking the beast was something you could hunt and kill! Ö You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you?" (p. 143). That is to say, the evil, epitomized by the pig's head, that is causing the boys' island society to decline is that which is inherently present within man. At the end of this scene, the immense evil represented by this powerful symbol can once again be seen as Simon faints after looking into the wide mouth of the pig and seeing "blackness within, a blackness that spread" (p. 144). Another of the most important symbols used to present the theme of the novel is the beast. In the imaginations of many of the boys, the beast is a tangible source of evil on the island. However, in reality, it represents the evil naturally present within everyone, which is causing life on the island to deteriorate. Simon begins to realize this even before his encounter with the Lord of the Flies, and during one argument over the existence of a beast, he attempts to share his insight with the others.

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