24.2 C
New York

Allegorical Interpretation of William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies”


Imagine being stranded on a deserted island with no adults in sight. No rules, no authority figures, just a group of young boys left to fend for themselves. This is the premise of William Golding’s classic novel, “Lord of the Flies”. At first glance, it may seem like a simple survival story, but upon closer examination, one can see that there are deeper meanings and allegorical elements at play.

In this blog post, we will delve into the hidden symbolism and themes present in “Lord of the Flies” and discuss how they contribute to the overall allegorical interpretation of the novel. We will also explore the background of the author, William Golding, and provide a brief summary of the novel for those who may not be familiar with it. So sit back, grab your conch shell, and let’s dive into the world of “Lord of the Flies”.

Background on William Golding

Before we can fully appreciate the allegorical elements of “Lord of the Flies”, it is important to understand the author behind the novel. William Golding was born in 1911 in Cornwall, England. He attended Oxford University where he studied English literature and later became a teacher. Golding’s experience as a teacher would heavily influence his writing, as he often explored the dynamics of power and authority in his works.

During World War II, Golding served in the Royal Navy and witnessed firsthand the destructive nature of humankind. This experience would also have a significant impact on his writing. It was during this time that Golding began to question the idea of human goodness and whether it truly existed. These themes would be prevalent in “Lord of the Flies” and many of his other works.

Despite initial rejections, “Lord of the Flies” was eventually published in 1954 and became an instant success. It has since been translated into multiple languages and is considered a classic of English literature. Golding went on to write many other novels, but “Lord of the Flies” remains one of his most well-known and influential works.

Summary of “Lord of the Flies”

Allegorical Interpretation of William Golding's

“Lord of the Flies” tells the story of a group of British boys who are stranded on a deserted island after their plane crashes. The oldest of the boys, Ralph, is elected as the leader and begins to establish rules and order in order to survive. However, there is another boy on the island, Jack, who desires power and control over the others. As the boys struggle to survive, tensions rise between Ralph and Jack, leading to a split in the group.

As time goes on, the boys’ primitive instincts begin to take over, and they become increasingly savage and violent. They create a “beast” that they believe to be lurking on the island, and it becomes a symbol of their fear and the darkness within themselves. Ultimately, the boys’ descent into barbarism leads to disastrous consequences.

Analysis of Allegorical Elements

Allegorical Interpretation of William Golding's

Upon first reading “Lord of the Flies”, it may seem like a simple story about a group of boys trying to survive on a deserted island. However, upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that there are deeper meanings and allegorical elements at play. Let’s explore some of these elements and how they contribute to the overall allegorical interpretation of the novel.

The Island

The deserted island serves as the setting for the novel and is a crucial element of the allegory. On the surface, it represents the physical isolation of the boys from society. However, it can also be seen as a microcosm of the larger world. Just as the island is cut off from civilization, the boys are cut off from the rules and norms of society. This allows for their true natures to be revealed and for the allegorical themes to come into play.

The Conch Shell

The conch shell, which is used as a symbol of authority and order in the novel, represents democracy and civilization. It is the object through which Ralph is elected as leader and the boys hold their meetings. However, as the boys become more savage, they begin to disregard the conch and its rules, ultimately leading to its destruction. This symbolizes the breakdown of democracy and the rise of dictatorship on the island.

Piggy’s Glasses

Piggy’s glasses are a crucial element in the allegory of “Lord of the Flies”. They represent intellect and reason, providing the boys with the ability to start a fire and signal for rescue. As long as the glasses are intact, there is hope for the boys’ survival. However, as the boys become more savage, they begin to see Piggy and his glasses as a threat to their newfound freedom. In a brutal act of violence, Jack destroys the glasses, symbolizing the loss of reason and the descent into chaos and darkness.

Symbolism in the Novel

In addition to the allegorical elements discussed above, “Lord of the Flies” is full of symbolism that adds depth to the story and reinforces the allegorical interpretation. Here are a few examples:

The Beast

The beast is a recurring symbol throughout the novel, representing the primal instincts and fear within the boys. At first, it is a vague and unknown entity, but as the boys become more afraid, it takes on different forms and becomes more real to them. In the end, it is revealed that the beast is not an external force, but rather the darkness within themselves.


Fire is another important symbol in the novel, representing both hope and destruction. Initially, the boys use fire to signal for rescue, but as they become more savage, they use it to create chaos and destruction. This symbolizes the boys’ loss of civilization and their descent into barbarism.

The Lord of the Flies

The title of the novel itself is a symbol, taken from the literal translation of “Beelzebub”, another name for the Devil. The pig’s head on a stick, which becomes known as the Lord of the Flies, is a representation of evil and the corrupting influence it can have on human nature. It also serves as a reminder of the savagery the boys are capable of and the consequences of giving in to their primal instincts.

Themes Explored

In addition to the allegorical elements and symbolism present in “Lord of the Flies”, there are also several themes that are explored throughout the novel. These themes further contribute to the overall allegorical interpretation and provide insight into the human condition.

Good vs. Evil

One of the central themes of the novel is the battle between good and evil. Golding explores the idea that humans are inherently both good and evil, and that it is up to society to keep our darker impulses in check. On the island, without the influence of society, the boys give in to their evil instincts, leading to chaos and violence.

Power and Control

As mentioned earlier, Golding’s experiences as a teacher heavily influenced his writing, particularly the theme of power and control. In “Lord of the Flies”, we see how the desire for power can corrupt individuals and lead to tyranny. Jack’s thirst for control over the others ultimately leads to disastrous consequences for the group.

Loss of Innocence

Another important theme in the novel is the loss of innocence. The boys start off as innocent children, but as they are forced to fend for themselves, their innocence is gradually stripped away. They are exposed to the brutal realities of survival and become more and more savage as time goes on. This loss of innocence is a commentary on the corrupting influence of society and the primal nature that lies within us all.


In conclusion, “Lord of the Flies” is far more than just a simple survival story. It is a complex allegory that explores themes of good vs. evil, power and control, and the loss of innocence. Through its use of symbolism and allegorical elements, Golding creates a powerful commentary on human nature and the fragility of civilization. As readers, we are left to contemplate the darker aspects of humanity and the consequences of giving in to our primal instincts. “Lord of the Flies” remains a timeless classic that will continue to be analyzed and discussed for generations to come.

Related articles

Recent articles