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Lord of the Flies Essay Analyse how symbols are used to develop an idea in a text you have studied. In the novel Lord of the Flies written by William Golding, an idea that is developed throughout the novel is civilisation versus savagery. This is shown through the symbolism of the conch, the fire and Piggy’s glasses. This use of symbolism helps the reader to understand the inherent evil in mankind and the balance between civilisation and the society we live in now versus the inner savagery that is surfacing in the boys during the book.
One of the symbols Golding uses to explore and develop the theme of civilisation versus savagery is the conch. The conch is first used on the island when blown by Ralph to gather and signal any other boys that survived the plane crash on the island. This here is the first sign of civilisation as once the conch is blown and boys begin to appear, they make rules and regulations and elect a chief. This is a sign of democracy which we recognise in society today. Golding uses the conch as a symbol for civilisation throughout the novel and is associated with law and order.
This is shown to the reader when Piggy says “I have the conch, so I have the power to speak! ” the conch’s power works for a short period of time until the authority that is associated with the conch slips away and is overpowered by the savagery and inherent evil that has been hidden away in mankind erupting out of the boys. When the conch is destroyed, civilisation is completely shattered. As the reader we realise then that the aim of rescue is lost and replaced with the need to hunt and kill.
This relates back to society today as we look at countries that have no authoritive figure to look up to or abide by and we see the chaos and havoc amongst the people and their morals lost. The second symbol Golding uses to develop the theme is the fire. The fire represents civilisation and the hope of being rescued. It also represents order and safety. The fire is first used as a signal fire in the hope of a plane or nearby boat seeing the smoke from the fire and coming to rescue the boys. Because of the team work it takes to keep the fire going, it makes us realise the teamwork and unity of the boys at the beginning of the novel.
However, as the fire subsequently extinguishes, so does the hope and aim of being rescued. The fire turns into a destructive force that simultaneously destroys the island and kills Simon. The fire then begins to be used as a heat source to cook the meat that the boys butchered. Golding uses the fire to show us the gradual shift that takes place on the island as savagery and the inherent evil begins to overcome the need for civilisation. The third symbol Golding uses to develop the theme of civilisation versus savagery is Piggy’s glasses.
Throughout the novel Piggy is the character that is the voice of reason and is ridiculed by others. He is the only one who remains completely sane and represents civilisation, wisdom and hope for society. Golding uses Piggy’s glasses as the only thing that can light the fire as it demonstrates to us the change on the island. At first Piggy’s glasses are used to light the signal fire so that there is hope of rescue but as the novel progresses and Piggy’s glasses get broken and stolen we see a shift from positive to negative and the inherent evil that is present in the boys.
The broken glasses show us the loss of humanity on the island and the complete disappearance of civilisation. As the reader we are shown the savagery overcoming civilisation when the glasses get stolen as they represent society and modern day – without them Piggy is blind. When jack wears them around his waist, they are a trophy rather than an essential need. In conclusion, the symbols of the conch, the fire and Piggy’s glasses help develop the theme of civilisation versus savagery. The use of symbolism helps the reader to understand the inherent evil in mankind and the balance between civilisation versus savagery.
Author: Wallace Hartsell
Lord of the Flies Symbolism Essay
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Show MoreSymbolism is a literary device used by authors to give deeper levels of meaning to objects and better demonstrate the theme. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, is a popular novel considered to be a “classic” by many. Golding’s literary work is contains many examples of symbolism to help readers better understand the novel’s themes. Three such cases are the conch shell, the fire, and the sow’s head that was put on a stake. Through closer study of the novel, it is evident that each of these objects possess a deeper meaning leading to the overall theme of the downfall of humanity.
The conch shell is the first to be introduced in the novel when Ralph spots it and picks it up. Immediately it becomes the symbol of stable civilization…show more content…
The state of the conch is in direct correlation with the state of the boys’ relationship with each other; when it finally shatters it signifies the point when the relationship between Ralph and Jack is shattered beyond repair. “The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee; the conch exploded into thousand white fragments and ceased to exist.” (Golding 200). Its shattering is also simultaneous with Piggy’s death, not by coincidence, as Piggy is most prominent representation of civilization and rules on the island. The conch is also a reminder that physical objects have no greater power than that which is given to them. When first found, it was treated with near reverence. “‘I seen one like that before…It’s ever so valuable…’” (Golding 11). Throughout the novel, Piggy is the one for whom the conch holds the most importance. After Jack’s boys raid their camp during the night, he says that he thought they had come to steal the conch. However, for Jack, the conch has by this point lost all value, and he laughs at Piggy when he brings it up. [Recheck source] Even Ralph realizes that the conch has lost the value it once had. “‘You’re still Chief.’ Ralph laughed again…‘Ralph! Stop laughing like that...’” (Golding, 172). He laughs because he realizes how silly it was to convince himself that a shell was the bearer of such power, but Piggy doesn’t understand why he is laughing because he still believes that everyone