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Allegory in Lord of the Flies

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Allegory is a symbolic fictional narrative that may have multi-leveled meaning, requiring a interpretive process to understand. Usually, allegorical works depict circumstances and events or convey abstract concepts about material objects, individuals, and behaviors. In literary allegory, the reader takes characters or narrative details as a metaphor for something beyond the literal story. The aim is to teach some sort of a moral lesson.

Lord of the Flies is an allegorical novel that uses the story of a group of boys trapped on a deserted island to represent the innate savagery of human nature and the consequences of mob mentality and totalitarian government. In Lord of the Flies, the characters reflect various negative and positive aspects of society, such as Ralph, who stands for democracy and civilization, and Jack, who stands for chaos, totalitarianism and violence. Objects on the island also serve allegorical purposes, particularly the conch representing communication and the democratic process. By telling the story of an isolated group of young boys attempting to rebuild their version of society, the novel asks whether our tendency of self-destruction and the downfall of civilizations is inevitable.

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Dystopia is a society defined by an emphasis on what goes counter to the author’s moral beliefs. The central themes in dystopian novels are usually rebellion, discrimination, riots, wars, overpopulation, and disasters. Many dystopian novelists explore at least one cause of such conditions, often as a parallel to similar issues in the actual world. They ‘provide fresh perspectives on problematic social and political practices that might otherwise be taken for granted or considered natural and inevitable’. Dystopias usually generalize aspects of modern culture, and these can be read as political alerts.

Since Lord of the Flies portrays the characters as living in a frightening, repressive environment, it is also an example of dystopian literature asserting that social inequality is unavoidable. While the setting of Lord of the Flies initially appears as a utopian paradise, with abundant food, fresh water, and spectacular beaches, it soon descends into a dystopian world where the boys are starving, filthy, terrified of an unknown beast, and oppressed by a sadistic leader. The loss of free will and individual expression is another dystopian aspect portrayed in the book. Originally, the conch was used to remain order, to prevent outbursts at meetings, and to give everyone a chance to talk. However, Jack uses it to intimidate others and to reinforce his opinions and ideas when he gains greater power. Additionally, Jack inflicts harsh punishment and torture on disobedience, making everyone submit to his authority. This brutality leads to Piggy’s murder caused by Roger. The universal theme of dystopian novels is that societies can never be completely ideal, but can change if individuals work together through democratic processes. Ralph, in Lord of the Flies, reflects this capacity in his insistence on freedom of speech, voting and collaborative work.  

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