What is "the lord of the flies" in Lord of the Flies?

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teachertaylor's profile pic

teachertaylor | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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"The Lord of the Flies" is a reference to Beezelbub, one of the princes of Hell.  In William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies, the pig's head that is mounted on the stick in the forest is the literal "lord of the flies" as the pig's head gathers flies as it rots.  Symbolically, the pig's head is the representation of evil to which the boys have succumbed.  Simon, who is often seen as the Christ-like representation in the novel, approaches the pig's head and after "conversing" with it, climbs into its mouth.  This action represents the good in the boys being swallowed by the mouth of evil.  So the reference to Beezelbub, or "the lord of the flies," is a recurring thematic symbol (motif) in the novel.

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In William Golding's allegory, the lord of the flies is evil incarnate. :

The halfpshut eyes were dim with the infinite cynicism of adult life.  They assured Simon that everything was a bad business.

The intuitive Simon tells the lord of the flies that he knows.  He tries to convince himself that what he sees is a pig's head on a stick only, but he realizes that the pig's head is not the real beast.  The beast is the evil that is inherent in each of the boys.

"Fancy thinking the beast was something you could hunt and kill!" ...For a moment or two the forest and all the other dimly appreciated places echoed with the parody of laughter.  "You knew, didn't you?  I'm part of you?  Cose, close, close!  I'm the reason why it's no go?  why thingsare what they are?

Symbolically Simon is "inside the mouth"; he falls into the unconsciousness as he feels that he has been swallowed by the terrible evil unleashed on the island.  And, with the full emergence of the sadistic Roger, evil is manifested.  Later, Simon is beaten to death as the hunters surround him and bludgeon him.   All along Simon has felt the knowledge of Beelezebub in the hearts of the boys; however, when he tries to communicate this to Ralph and the others, he becomes incoherent and is later killed.

badrlaw's profile pic

badrlaw | (Level 1) Salutatorian

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The Lord of the Flies is a novel by William Golding.  In the novel, the head of a dead pig, decapitated and mounted on a spear appears to one of the characters in a vision.  In the vision, the decaying head speaks to the character, claiming to be the Lord of the Flies, a common name for Satan in the Judeo-Christian tradition.  The head tells the character that it cannot be destroyed, for it exists as a part of all men.  The idea is that the pig's head symbolizes the corrupting influence of evil which simultaneously preys upon and exists within humankind.  Of course, because the pig's head came to be decapitated and impaled on a spear as a direct result of the actions of other characters in the novel, I would argue that the novel implies that humankind gives birth to and empowers its own evils without any need for an external mythological devil.

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