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Lord of the flies character essay


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Lord of the Flies a Microcosm to Our Society


Essay by
Tina16 Junior High, 9th gradeD-,

May 2008


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Keywords
World War II , Jack , Lord of the Flies , insight , Ralph

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William Golding ’s novel Lord of the Flies significantly symbolizes characters, objects and the setting to represent our world as a whole. Golding uses those symbols to make the island similar to society and to show the difference between living in a civilised society and savagery. The novel takes place on an island during World War II, this is significant since the isolation forms a sort of civilization and community, a sort of microcosm to the real world and to human civilization.

Lord of the Flies island is similar to our society in many ways. There are certain objects that link the island and our society. Firstly William Golding portrays the conch as a symbol for power, order and authority. This is because whoever holds it becomes the only one with the authority to speak. That rule is official when Ralph says, “And another thing. We can’t have everybody talking at once.

Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies

English: Cottages, The Green, Marlborough William Golding , author of 'Lord of the Flies' and a master at Marlborough College lived at No 29.

English: Cottages, The Green, Marlborough William …

He made a great sound, and the Lord of the Flies arrived.

He made a great sound, and the Lord of the Flies a…

We’ll have to have ‘Hands up’ like at school…then I’ll give him the conch.” (Golding 31) This is much like standing at the podium or holding a microphone in our civilized society or raising one’s hand in school. The conch also represents the organization found in a democratic Government. Since the conch was discovered it has created order and rules and brought the boys together as a society. Jack says “we’ll have rules!’ he cried excitedly. ‘Lots of rules! Then anyone who breaks ’em- ” (Golding 32) As the conch starts to lose it’s power the tribe splits into two groups, just as the community would have if the government would no longer have control. The rise and fall of the conch symbolized the rise and fall of a system of rules, regulations and order in a society. It provided a parallel universe showing how important the rules and regulations are to a successful society. Therefore the conch is a symbol of human civilization thus making Lord of the Flies a smaller version of society.

Another symbol of civilization are the glasses belonging to piggy. It symbolized knowledge and insight. They represent society’s reliance upon technology and the weakness of human beings. They were created to make piggy’ s life better, without them he can hardly see. When Jack snatches the glasses off piggy’ s face, Piggy replies “Mind out! Give em’ back! I can hardly see!” (Golding 40) The glasses are symbolic to technology which makes one’s life more convenient or improves their quality of life. Without the glasses the boys would have not been able to start a fire since no one else knew another way to do so. After asking around for matches Jack points suddenly at Piggy and says “His specs-use them as burning glasses!” (Golding 40) The concept that the boys would be helpless without the glasses symbolizes how helpless people become when they don’t have technology to aid them . Also the clothes are a symbolic link to the survival of civilization and a symbol of conflict in society. In our society today, the clothing someone wears tells a lot about them. People are judged to be rich or poor, intelligent or unintelligent, or even neat or messy just by the clothing they have on. The boys arrive with clothes, but gradually they all wear less and less. This is symbolic of their becoming more savage and less in touch with their former civilization. One who does not wear pants in our society would be arrested and considered to be uncivilized. Another use of symbolism in clothing is that Jack and his group all dress alike and act alike makes them into a separate group from the rest of the boys. They carry out different jobs and have a different ideology. This conflict of a separate group in the society which Ralph try’s to organize eventually leads to the break up of the boys into completely separate groups. This is symbolic of the different cultures we have in our society today.

As the novel is an allegory, each character signifies an important idea or theme. Each character is symbolized clearly as someone in our society. Piggy is the scientific and intellectual aspect of society. He is a thinker, philosopher and someone who always advises for good. He was also like Albert Einstein, people did not care that he thought the atomic bomb was a bad weapon just like no one cared about what piggy said or did. While Piggy was trying to explain himself to Ralph, “Jack turned on him. ‘You shut up!”, he yelled. (Golding 46) Another main character Ralph is like Franklin Roosevelt , who could not stop the World war two from breaking out. He is the allegory of the confused that are always confused in the recognition between good and evil. He also represents democracy and is responsible. He is the politician who relies on social order and government, and his political failures show that he cannot control the evil within the other boys. Jack was a symbol of Adolph Hitler. He was a crazy leader who killed many people because he wanted power, “No one moved. Jack shouted angrily. ‘I said “grab them”!” (Golding 198) Like Hitler, Jack was a dictator and ignorant. Jack is the hunter, protector and the Soldier who is consumed by his own fear and the greater force of his own capacity for evil. Roger is even worse than Jack, even though he isn’t like that from the beginning. He’s similar to Satan or even Dr. Mengele who was Hitler’ s worker and did very bad operations on people. Roger is so cruel and has gone far beyond from being a savage when Roger purposely “with a sense of delirious abandonment, leaned all his weight on the lever”, resulting in Piggy’ s death. (Golding 200) Simon is a Christ like figure who discovered the truth but unlike Christ he is sacrificed before he can deliver it to the others. The impulses and the behaviour of the boys are those of adults. The struggle between Ralph and Jack is symbolic of the struggle between the forces of civilization and anarchy, or the struggle between moral conscience and his heart of darkness and also world war 2. The tussle between Jack and Ralph for leadership is the allegory of our political leaders who always fight and kill for the sake of power. The way the boys are being seduced by Jack, the leaders of our world exploit the masses. Our world is very fertile like the island, but in their ambition to get the power the leaders destroy this world just like the boys who burn the whole island to ashes without realizing that they are destroying their own means of survival. The division of the boys in litluns and big’uns is the allegory of the classes in our world. Litluns symbolize the common people, while the big’uns are the allegory of the ruling, powerful and political classes. The island on which the boys find themselves is allegorically our world in miniature.

Since the island is a microcosm, Golding uses it to reflect our world and give comments on it and his view of human nature. In order to achieve this symbolism, Golding uses objects that have symbolic value as references to ideas, characters that symbolize important historical and religious people, and the setting which frames the conflicts on the island, all have parallels in the real world. They show that what happened in the story is just not a story. They help prove the author’s belief that humankind is savage and evil is under civilization. Thus the Lord of the Flies is a microcosm, a smaller version of society and human civilization.

BIBLEOGRAPHY: Lord of the Flies, William Golding

Film poster for Lord of the Flies - Copyright 1990, Columbia Pictures

Film poster for Lord of the Flies – Copyright 1990…

Lord of the Flies (1963 film)

Lord of the Flies (1963 film)

William Golding medal in his former school, Salisbury

William Golding medal in his former school, Salisb…

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Lord of the Flies


What are some examples of topic sentences and quotes that suggest the theme of civilization vs savagery in Lord of the Flies? 

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oblackmon eNotes educator | Certified Educator

For the topic civilized vs. savagery, you could write your essay about how savagery overcomes civilization because the boys are so young. You can use the following topic sentences and quotes:

1. Though the boys try to establish some sort of system, it does not take a long time for the boys to quit listening to their chief.

Quotes #1: “We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all, we’re not savages. We’re English, and…

For the topic civilized vs. savagery, you could write your essay about how savagery overcomes civilization because the boys are so young. You can use the following topic sentences and quotes:

1. Though the boys try to establish some sort of system, it does not take a long time for the boys to quit listening to their chief.

Quotes #1: “We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all, we’re not savages. We’re English, and the English are best at everything.” (2.192)

Quote #2: “All this I meant to say. Now I’ve said it. You voted me for chief. Now you do what I say.” 

They quieted, slowly, and at last were seated again. Ralph dropped down and spoke in his ordinary voice.” (5,58-59)

2. When Jack goes to hunt, he immediately gets overexcited from the thrill of injuring and killing the pig.

Quote #3:”He [Jack] tried to convey the compulsion to track down and kill that was swallowing him up.

“I went on. I thought, by myself—”

The madness came into his eyes again.

“I thought I might kill.” (3,37-40)

Quote #4: [Jack] began to dance and his laughter became a bloodthirsty snarling. (4,33)

3. Simon’s and Piggy’s deaths symbolize how savagery’s wins over civilization:

Quote #5: “The sticks fell and the mouth of the new circle crunched and screamed. The beast [Simon] was on its knees in the center, its arms folded over its face. It was crying out against the abominable noise something about a body on the hill.” (9, 89)

Quote #6: “The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee; the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist.” (11, 209)

I do not know which edition you are using, so the quotes are identified by (chapter, paragraph). 

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Lord of the Flies Quotes

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Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Flies
by
William Golding
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Lord of the Flies Quotes

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“Maybe there is a beast… maybe it’s only us.”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

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“Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

1370 likes
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“The thing is – fear can’t hurt you any more than a dream.”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

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“The greatest ideas are the simplest.”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

tags:
inspirational ,
simplicity
569 likes
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“We did everything adults would do. What went wrong?”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

543 likes
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“I think women are foolish to pretend they are equal to men, they are far superior and always have been.”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

tags:
empowerment ,
equality ,
gender ,
men ,
superiority ,
women
453 likes
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“Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill! You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you? Close, close, close! I’m the reason why it’s no go? Why things are what they are?”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

tags:
beast ,
hallucination ,
simon
374 likes
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“What are we? Humans? Or animals? Or savages?”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

276 likes
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“Sucks to your ass-mar!”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

256 likes
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“If faces were different when lit from above or below — what was a face? What was anything?”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

226 likes
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“We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all, we’re not savages. We’re English, and the English are best at everything.”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

tags:
farcical ,
nationalism ,
poignant ,
pride
193 likes
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“The world, that understandable and lawful world, was slipping away.”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

185 likes
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“He found himself understanding the wearisomeness of this life, where every path was an improvisation and a considerable part of one’s waking life was spent watching one’s feet.”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

tags:
life ,
tiredness
171 likes
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“They looked at each other, baffled, in love and hate.”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

tags:
lord-of-the-flies ,
william-golding
142 likes
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“His voice rose under the black smoke before the burning wreckage of the island; and infected by that emotion, the other little boys began to shake and sob too. And in the middle of them, with filthy body, matted hair, and unwiped nose, Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of mans heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

tags:
inspirational-beautiful
126 likes
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“The mask was a thing on it’s own, behind which Jack hid, liberated from shame and self-conciousness.”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

120 likes
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“They walked along, two continents of experience and feeling unable to communicate.”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

tags:
lord-of-the-flies
116 likes
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“Maybe,” he said hesitantly, “maybe there is a beast.” […] “What I mean is, maybe it’s only us.”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

113 likes
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“Which is better–to have laws and agree, or to hunt and kill?”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

113 likes
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“Towards midnight the rain ceased and the clouds drifted away, so that the sky was scattered once more with the incredible lamps of stars. Then the breeze died too and there was no noise save the drip and tickle of water that ran out of clefts and spilled down, leaf by leaf, to the brown earth of the island. The air was cool, moist, and clear; and presently even the sound of the water was still. The beast lay huddled on the pale beach and the stains spread, inch by inch.

The edge of the lagoon became a streak of phosphorescence which advanced minutely, as the great wave of the tide flowed. The clear water mirrored the clear sky and the angular bright constellations. The line of phosphorescence bulged about the sand grains and little pebbles; it held them each in a dimple of tension, then suddenly accepted them with an inaudible syllable and moved on.

Along the shoreward edge of the shallows the advancing clearness was full of strange, moonbeam-bodied creatures with fiery eyes. Here and there a larger pebble clung to its own air and was covered with a coat of pearls. The tide swelled in over the rain-pitted sand and smoothed everything with a layer of silver. Now it touched the first of the stains that seeped from the broken body and the creatures made a moving patch of light as they gathered at the edge. The water rose further and dressed Simon’s coarse hair with brightness. The line of his cheek silvered and the turn of his shoulder became sculptured marble. The strange, attendant creatures, with their fiery eyes and trailing vapours busied themselves round his head. The body lifted a fraction of an inch from the sand and a bubble of air escaped from the mouth with a wet plop. Then it turned gently in the water.

Somewhere over the darkened curve of the world the sun and moon were pulling; and the film of water on the earth planet was held, bulging slightly on one side while the solid core turned. The great wave of the tide moved further along the island and the water lifted. Softly, surrounded by a fringe of inquisitive bright creatures, itself a silver shape beneath the steadfast constellations, Simon’s dead body moved out towards the open sea.”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

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“The rules!” shouted Ralph, “you’re breaking the rules!”
“Who cares?”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

94 likes
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“I know there isn’t no beast—not with claws and all that, I mean—but I know there isn’t no fear, either.”
Piggy paused.
“Unless—”
Ralph moved restlessly.
“Unless what?”
“Unless we get frightened of people.”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

91 likes
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“People don’t help much.”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

tags:
piggy ,
ralph
89 likes
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“There have been so many interpretations of the story that I’m not going to choose between them. Make your own choice. They contradict each other, the various choices. The only choice that really matters, the only interpretation of the story, if you want one, is your own. Not your teacher’s, not your professor’s, not mine, not a critic’s, not some authority’s. The only thing that matters is, first, the experience of being in the story, moving through it. Then any interpretation you like. If it’s yours, then that’s the right one, because what’s in a book is not what an author thought he put into it, it’s what the reader gets out of it.”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

tags:
reader-response
85 likes
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“He lost himself in a maze of thoughts that were rendered vague by his lack of words to express them. Frowning, he tried again.”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

tags:
lord-of-the-flies
76 likes
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“the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist.”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

59 likes
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“Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Spill her blood.”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

54 likes
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“His mind was crowded with memories; memories of the knowledge that had come to them when they closed in on the struggling pig, knowledge that they had outwitted a living thing, imposed their will upon it, taken away its life like a long satisfying drink.”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

48 likes
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“What I mean is… maybe it’s only us…”



William Golding ,


Lord of the Flies

44 likes
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“I’m scared of him,” said Piggy, “and that’s why I know him. If you’re scared of someone you hate him but you can’t stop thinking about him. You kid yourself he’s all right really, an’ then when you see him again; it’s like asthma an’ you can’t breathe…”



William Golding,


Lord of the Flies

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