Two separate illustrations of an animal head and a fire on a mountain

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding
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Analyze the Lord of the Flies (the pig's head on a stick) as a symbol in William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies.

"The Lord of the Flies" is another name for Beelzebub, or the devil. Thus, the pig's head with flies around it symbolically represents the force of evil that exists in all men.

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The boys' descent into evil as they follow Jack is sealed when they sadistically and ritualistically slaughter a pig and eat it, enjoying both the pleasure of triumph over the helpless creature and the pleasure of eating the dripping meat.

Simon, the Christ figure in the novel who represents the superego or conscience, hallucinates as he looks at the dead pig's head, which has been mounted on a stick as if it is an idol to worship. It is surrounded by flies, bringing to mind Beelzebub, the devilish second-in-command to Satan in Milton's Paradise Lost. Milton conceived of the demons in hell in traditional terms as like a swarm of flies.

Simon has spiritual insight into the true meaning of the pig's head as a symbol of evil. This insight emerges in his conversation with it. It says to him,

Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!

This makes explicit that evil—the "Beast" the boys fear—is within their souls rather something external that can be hunted down and destroyed.

Second, looking at this symbol of evil helps Simon to understand how powerful its allure is. What he, Simon, represents, the head says is not wanted. The boys, led by evil impulses, desire what the head calls "fun": the opportunity to run wild and indulge all their normally forbidden, atavistic instincts towards violence, domination, and cruelty. The boys also wish to live irresponsibly in the moment.

Simon can see through to the core of what this "fun" really is—a rotting, dead head surrounded by flies, something disgusting—but the other boys see only the outer shell of what appears to be freeing and deeply enjoyable. The head says,

You’re not wanted. Understand? We are going to have fun on this island.

The head, the symbol of evil, lies, just as the devil does, because what the boys are having will not turn out to be fun, but a destructive fire that threatens to consume them.

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The Lord of the Flies is the name of the severed pig's head that Jack places on a sharpened stick as a sacrifice to the beast. In chapter 8, Simon visits his secluded spot in the forest where he discovers the ominous severed pig's head in the middle of the clearing. Golding describes the Lord of the Flies as a menacing pig's head covered in black iridescent flies that seems to have an unsettling grin.

When Simon stares at the Lord of the Flies, he experiences auditory hallucinations as the severed pig's head begins to speak to him. The Lord of the Flies confirms Simon's belief that the beast is not a tangible creature which can be killed and warns him about interrupting the boys' "fun" on the island. The Lord of the Flies also informs Simon that there is nothing he can do to stop the savagery taking place. After listening to the Lord of the Flies, Simon loses consciousness.

Symbolically, the Lord of the Flies represents the presence of evil on the island and inside each boy. The severed pig's head on the stake also allegorically represents Satan. Beelzebub is another name for the devil, which translates to the Lord of the Flies. Given that Simon is a symbolic Christ figure in the story, his interaction with the Lord of the Flies alludes to Satan tempting Jesus in the wilderness.

This scene is significant because the Lord of the Flies confirms Simon's knowledge of mankind's essential illness and foreshadows his death. Simon is the only boy who truly understands the identity of the beast, which is humanity's inherently evil nature.

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"The Lord of the Flies" is another name for Beelzebub, the devil.  Thus, the pig's head with flies around it symbolizes Beelzebub, the force of evil. Although Simon, a Christ-like figure who falls victim to the evil of the boys, recognizes the Beast, or the devil, he forces himself with "mouth labored," to say that this Lord of the Flies is merely a "Pig's head on a stick."  But, Beelzebub acknowledges that Simon has intuitively has known all along where evil lies; namely, innately within the boys.

"You know perfectly well you'll only meet me down there--so don't try to escape!"

Certainly, at the beast's center lies man. The flies hover around the pig's head as they focus upon death by savagery, death by violence, and the destruction of what is beautiful and good as represented by the innocent Simon.  For, just as the pig's head drips blood, in Chapter 9, Simon's blood stains the sand.

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In chapter eight of Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, Jack and his hunters sharpen a stick at both ends and place the dismembered, bloody head of a pig on it. Jack knows his hunters, like nearly all the boys on the island, have a fear of some nameless beast; he hopes to allay some of those fears by this act. He tells his hunters that they are leaving a sacrifice to appease the beast, though the reality is that the creature Simon sees as Lord of the Flies is really just a pig's head jammed onto a stick. Symbolically, the pig's head is much more than that.

Simon has a hiding place where he goes to be away from everyone, and he is there when the hunters erect the faux sacrifice right outside of his secret hideaway. We know that Simon has a tendency to faint, and through the course of his conversation with the Lord of the Flies we have indications that this dialogue is not real but conducted in Simon's head. At the end of the conversation Simon faints.

The Lord of the Flies tries to intimidate and threaten Simon; he calls Simon "just an ignorant, silly little boy" and mocks Simon for thinking the beast is "something you could hunt and kill!" Golding uses this symbolic beast, the Lord of the Flies, to reveal the truth to Simon: they, the boys, are the beast. The Lord of the Flies says,

“You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you? Close, close, close! I’m the reason why it’s no go? Why things are what they are?”

Before Simon faints, the Lord of the Flies warns Simon that he is not wanted on this island (because Simon represents the soul and spirit of man) and predicts that "Jack and Roger and Maurice and Robert and Bill and Piggy and Ralph" will kill him. And they do.


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