Understanding Golding’s Symbolism in Lord of the Flies
William Golding's work, Lord of the Flies, uses the plight of a group of British school children marooned on a deserted island to explore the defects in society as being traceable to defects in individual human nature. Each character’s purpose is to embody different aspects of the human psyche, often combined, such as: depravity, tyranny, rationality, fallibility, impulsivity, innocence, morality and mob mentality. The shape of a society depends on the ethical nature of the individuals in it. Golding seeks to demonstrate that the darkness of man’s heart and his gravitation toward conformity often overshadow individual moral conduct (Hynes). Each of the characters in Lord of the Flies and their interactions with each other, serve to symbolize the fundamental flaws of human nature which account for the imperfect society in which we live.
Society teaches its members to abide by its rules, act peacefully and morally correct, and value the good of the group over immediate gratification of one’s own desires, however, humans often do not possess the will to sacrifice their own desires for the good of the whole. The rules of society are learned. Man’s instinct is for personal gratification. This inability of many people to rise above their own desire for personal gratification is symbolized in the character of Jack. In the beginning of the novel Jack tries to act properly, as he has been taught and even finds it difficult to kill his prey. As the novel progresses, he becomes increasingly more selfish in his desire to hunt and run wild. He begins to despise all democratic processes such as group assemblies and the
conch that calls the group to order. His personal desire to hunt disrupts the group’s efforts to keep a signal fire going, as he encourages the boys to dance in wild tribal ways and act savagely. As Jack’s lust for power increases, hunting...