Lord Of The Flies: A Religious Allegory

Lord Of The Flies: A Religious Allegory

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Since its publication in 1954, the Lord of the Flies has amassed a prodigious cult-following for its blunt truths. Depicting the savagery of marooned school boys, William Golding's story presents a gruesome vision of post-war humanism in the mode of action and allegory. The Nobel Laureate's novel seems to many critics a striking analogue to the Bible (in certain aspects). Through its biblical parallels in settings, content, and overall meaning, Lord of the Flies becomes, in essence, a religious allegory.

The virtual framework of the novel presents the basis of this scriptural corollary. Set in a dense jungle, the fiction creates an ambiance akin to the Garden of Eden. "A great platform of pink granite thrust up uncompromisingly through the forest and terrace and sand and lagoon [...] The palms that [...] stood made a green roof, covered on the underside with a quivering tangle of reflections from the lagoon." (Golden 11) The lush beauty of the isle is comparable to that of Genesis' Eden. "And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east [...] And out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food..." (Gen. 2:8-9).

Innocence within the Garden of Eden and the Lord of the Flies is shown similarly through the characters' undressed enjoyment; both stories show an elemental naïveté and carelessness in the unclothed states of their players. Genesis provides a symbolic view of nakedness as the state before knowledge and sin. "And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed." (Gen. 2:25) Lord of the Flies' Ralph, in a moment of childish wonderment, strips off his clothes and streaks towards the clear, blue sea. The instinctual and youthful instant ends after Ralph dutifully shepherds the others towards a meeting. Ralph shows cunning in his shallow use of democracy, fairly convincing the boys of his power; the action exhibits a significant return to knowledge after innocence. (Golden 16-22) Acts of understanding lead to sin in the novel and power struggles, a vision of knowledge, engender manipulation and murder. Golden's novel morally parallels the Bible through the idea that comprehension heralds immorality.

Along with the text's idea of sin, critics most widely recognize Simon's similarities to Jesus. "Simon is a peaceful lad who tries to show the boys that there is no monster on the island except the fears that the boys have.

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" (Houston np) Christ's life seems a series of beautiful and unfortunate happenstances that ultimately lead to his death. He is the fundamental goodness that Simon represents in the novel. Simon, often alone, is the purest of the boys. He is the most helpful and giving. "Simon found for them the fruit they could not reach, pulled off the choicest from up in the foliage, passed them back down to the endless, outstretched hands." (Golding 56) He is also the only one that understands. He attempts to state the truth, but to no avail; in his hesitancy he is overcome by the boys.

"Maybe," he [Simon] said hesitantly, "maybe there is a beast."
The assembly cried out savagely and Ralph stood up in amazement.
"You, Simon? You believe in this?"
"I don't know," said Simon. His heartbeats were choking him. "But..."
The storm broke.
"Sit down!" "Shut up!" "Take the conch!" "Sod you!" "Shut up!"
Ralph shouted.
"Hear him! He's got the conch!"
"What I mean is... maybe it's only us."
"Nuts!" [...]

Simon became inarticulate in his effort to express
mankind's essential illness. (Golden 80)

"When he makes this revelation, he is ridiculed. This is an uncanny parallel to the misunderstanding that Christ had to deal with throughout his life." (Houston np)

Later, we comprehend the depth of Simon's perception in his conversation with the Lord of the Flies. The interview is an obvious allusion to Jesus' conversation with the Devil during his forty days and forty nights in the desert. "Lord of the Flies" is in fact a direct translation of the Greek word Beelzebub.

"Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill! [...] You knew didn't you? I'm a part of you? Close, close, close! I'm the reason why it's no go? Why things are what they are? [...] I'm warning you. I'm going to get angry. D'you see? You're not wanted. Understand? We are going to have fun on this island. Understand? We are going to have fun on this island!" (Golden 130-131)

The Lord of the Flies' speech pattern makes it seem all the more devilish and threatening to Simon. In a panic, he ventures towards the boys attempting to express the truth of the Beast but, he is overcome by the mob and killed as the "Beast". (Golden 138-139) At this point, the parallel between Jesus Christ and Simon is obvious. They are the messengers of truth killed for their beliefs; although Simon is killed before conveying the truth while Christ was killed for doing so. The irony of both situations is that these deaths eventually lead to salvation. Christ's death signified the opening of the heavens; previously the dead stayed in limbo. Simon's death shocks Ralph into "negotiation" endeavor with Jack. Unfortunately, the Ralph's attempt at a treatise leads to the destruction of half of the jungle, which in turn brings rescue. (Golden 155-184).

The parallels between Christ and Simon signify a common belief in salvation. The Christian doctrine holds firm that salvation will come and Golden's scarce optimism correlates with this belief. Through this, religious allegory in Lord of the Flies is apparent.

Golden's use of religious allegory is apparent in his critically acclaimed novel Lord of the Flies. In congruence with many biblical settings and themes, the novel conveys two major biblical beliefs; Adam and Eve's loss of innocence due to knowledge and the firm faith that salvation will come. William Golden expresses this through similar use of characterization between Christ and Simon and the Garden of Eden like setting.

Works Cited

Bible.Com. Gen. 8-25. 15 Mar. 2006 .

Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. 13th ed. The Putnam Group, 1954. 7-184.

Pujante, Juan J., and Juan J. P. "Golding's Themes." Homepage of Juan Javier Herraiz Pujante. 1995. U of Virginia. 15 Mar. 2006 .
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