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Symbolism in William Golding's "Lord of the Flies"

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The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines symbolism as, “the art or practice of using symbols especially by investing things with a symbolic meaning or by expressing the invisible or intangible using visible or sensuous representations” How does The Lord of The Flies use symbolism in its writing? In the novel The Lord of The Flies by William Golding, Symbolism is used on many occasions on many different objects throughout the book. It gives more meaning to objects than they would originally have at first glance. Golding used symbolism many times in his writing, so there are many instances where symbolism is a big part of the book.

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One of the most known symbolic instances in the book is Piggy’s Glasses. ‘Jack pointed suddenly. ‘His specs-use them as burning glasses” (Golding 40) this quote represents how they can use the glasses to start fires and how they are a symbol of intelligence. Piggy always had a good head on him, and glasses are normally put together with smarts. So when he takes them off, it has a meaning to it besides him not being able to see. It is representing the fact that something is happening that is important or that they are using them to start a fire. Piggy’s glasses play an important role in the fire starting process also, later on when the groups split up, they are both fighting over who can get ahold of the glasses so that side can have the ability to start a fire. The fires started using his glasses are part of something bigger than just a normal fire, just like how the glasses were more important than just eyesight.

The fire is not just for light just like the glasses weren’t for just seeing. At the beginning of the book, the fire was a symbol of hope. They were using it only as a way of being spotted by a ship passing by or a plane flying over. Later on, towards the middle of the book, the fire was used as a way to cook food. Towards the end of the book fire represented destruction. The boys used fire as a weapon and ended up burning much of the island in the process. If the boys saw fire, they knew bad news was on the way. “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 man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.” (Golding Lord of the Flies). Fires were used as a signal at the beginning just like the conch was used to signal meetings.

The conch is probably the most noticeable symbolic piece in the book. The conch symbolizes leadership and rule. Whoever holds the conch, gets to talk, and is basically in charge for the time being during that meeting, and the leader just keeps the conch in their possession. At the very end of the book, the conch gets smashed. This action represents that the days of being civil are over. The conch pretty much kept all the boys in their place because there was a mutual agreement that the leader held the conch… and when it was destroyed, that just showed everyone that the conch has no more power. The lord of the flies has to be one of the most symbolic books I have ever read.

In conclusion. This book was definitely worth the read, I have heard so much about it and it makes you think about what things mean. Everything has a deeper meaning than it seems to. Everything is eventually tied to something else. It makes you think about how everything in life has more meaning to it than just what it appears to be. The littlest thing in life could be tied to the most important thing without being noticeable at first glance. 

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