Explore the symbolic significance of the island in ‘Lord of the Flies’
The first symbol in the novel is the island itself on which the boys become stranded. It is uninhabited and therefore has no social structures or orders given by grown-ups. This is an opportunity for the boys to decide how to build up a new community which is not biased by their parents’ views. After the boys’ first meeting, Ralph is elected leader. This vote is proof of order and democracy. But throughout the novel, especially towards its close, the situation escalates and everything develops into anarchy, mostly caused by Jack’s cruelty and greed for power. The island is surrounded by the sea which stands for a barrier between civilisation, order and anarchy and cruelty. At the beginning everything seems idyllic and nature makes the boys feel free like on a treasure island without any adults on which they can play and enjoy their stay. But soon they have to realize that this idyll is deceptive and that they need fixed laws to survive. The interesting jungle becomes a dangerous adventure, the exotic fruits make them feel sick and their liberty develops into a feeling of loneliness and homesickness.
Another material symbol is the conch which is found by Ralph and Piggy at the beginning of the novel. It immediately becomes a synonym for democracy, order, justice and equality because the person holding the shell is allowed to speak and nobody has the right to interrupt him. But its influence becomes unstable because of the escalating arguments between Ralph and Jack. This tool of civilisation is then alienated by Ralph’s and Jack’s scramble for power and leadership. - The conch is also a symbol of a united community. Especially Jack restricts the conch’s importance because he wants to be elected as leader instead of Ralph. This greed causes a division on the island: on the one hand there are Ralph and his followers and on the other hand there is Jack and his tribe.
One more symbol is Piggy’s glasses. They express intelligence and education, and therefore produce a certain balance between Piggy’s physical weakness and clumsiness, and his mental strength. Piggy’s spectacles are also used to light the fire on the top of the mountain so that the boys can take two advantages of that: They can be rescued when someone notices the fire burning and furthermore they can prepare their meat and can survive and live on the island as long as necessary. The boys start to paint their faces, which reminds the reader of savages. The action becomes a ritual and gives them the chance to hide their “real” faces and personalities behind a mask, or even to change their…