Question: Discuss the allegorical approaches in Lord of the Flies.
The allegorical aspect of William Golding’s (1911-1993) novel “Lord of the Flies” (1954) is achieved in terms of character portrayal, narrative method, events, and themes. The novel is an allegory that depicts the conflict between democratic utopianism versus fascist violence, and some characters in the background of the novel instantly recall scenes from World War II and the Cold War.
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Definition of allegory
Before analyzing the novel as an allegory, let us have a look at the definition of allegory. In literature, allegory is used as a symbolic device to represent abstract ideas or principles beyond the surface meaning. “Lord of the Flies” is a beautiful fusion of allegory.
The character represents a certain idea
Each character in the novel represents something more than his soul. They symbolize certain ideas. Ralph and Jack explain both aspects of society. Ralph is an institutional part of a society where people obey rules and maintain harmony. Jack shows the dark side of the same society. Piggy presents the scientific and intellectual aspects of civilization. Roger presents the drive for violence and bloodshed in its purest.
“Round the squatting child was the protection of parents and school and policeman and the law. Rogers arm was conditioned by a civilization that knew nothing of him and was in ruins.”
The objects of the island also serve as metaphorical verbs. Most notably the conch represents law and discipline as well as freedom of expression. Piggy glasses, which are used to create fire and to represent the power of science and intellectual endeavor. The pig head of the jungle expresses the human inspiration for the barbarism, violence, and barbarism that exists in every human being. The beast represents the boy’s inner fear that is associated with communism. During the Cold War, leaders used this fear to rise to power and do what they wanted to do like Jack.
The novel Lord of the Flies is connected with the didactic theme or moral lesson. It deals with the conflict between good and evil (democracy versus savagery). Ralph takes the responsibility of all and becomes the leader. He organizes everything, maintains peace, and ultimately chased by savages. He stands for the democratic idea of welfare and humanity. But Jack is a real savage whose hunger for power makes him blind. He is the enemy of Ralph and wants to become a leader. His main interest is hunting. Through hunting, his brutality becomes more frightening.
“Bollocks to the rules! We’re strong – we hunt! If there’s a beast, we’ll hunt it down! We’ll close in and beat and beat and beat-!”
This novel takes the form of religious allegory especially through the character Simon. He is the spiritual leader, a prophet, and ultimately the courage to search for the truth. When all of the boys are afraid of the fear of the beast, Simon goes into the forest and discovers that the so-called beast is nothing but a rotten dead body of an airman entangled with his parachute. The name of the novel “Lord of the Flies” can be traced to the ancient name of the devil Beelzebub. He is the chief representative of false God. On the Island, beautiful and abundant tasty food recalls the Garden of Eden in which Adam and Eve once lived happily. But finally, it becomes hell when Ralph is being pursued recently by Jack and his savages.
“Lord of the Flies” is an allegory for bio-political or post-political society. It is clear from the socio-economic situation of the era that it was written. Jack is nothing other than a minimized figure of Hitler. He ruled like an occupier and dictatorial chief. His leadership does not come from the good ability of his advanced personality but from the ability to intimidate his followers into perfect obedience. Jack and his followers create a Holocaust so that Piggy and Simon are brutally killed.
Golding’s purpose in writing “Lord of the Flies” is to trace the defects of the civilized world what he wants to say through his novel that men in the civilized society are no better than a pack of children running will without supervision. In this novel, Piggy satirically asks a question-
“What are we? Human? Or animals? Or savages?”
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In short, we can say that the Lord of Flies is a great allegory. The novel is a parable of the life of the nuclear age in the last half of the twentieth century when society seems to have reached technological maturity while human morality is still hidden.