Explain the significance and meaning of the forest in Lord of the Flies.
I'm working on a project in school and need quotes to explain the forest significance, and I'm finding this really difficult.
The forest could represent a potential paradise. The boys arrive on a deserted island with no adults. It is like a children's Garden of Eden. (It is also a place to find fruit.) This definition holds up as long as they are able to be somewhat responsible and take care of each other. Initially, the forest is peaceful and nonthreatening.
This was filled with a blue flower, a rock plant of some sort, and the overflow hung down the vent and spilled lavishly among the canopy of the forest. The air was thick with butterflies, lifting, fluttering, settling.
Of course, they quickly stray from peaceful ways and therefore, for the most part, the forest comes to represent fear, danger, and the potential savagery inherent in the boys and, allegorically, all of humankind.
When Jack goes into the forest, he does so to learn how to hunt. And with Jack's personality, this journey into the forest becomes his journey into violence. Jack even senses the danger that the forest represents to him and many of the other boys:
“There’s nothing in it of course. Just a feeling. But you can feel as if you’re not hunting, but—being hunted, as if something’s behind you all the time in the jungle.” (Chapter 3)
Note that the beast is also in the forest. The beast represents their fear. These negative images of the forest correspond to its darkness. Lurking in the darkness is the sense of violence and fear. Likewise, lurking in each boy is the potential for violence and fear. Simon is the first one to recognize that their fear and potential for violence is in them, not in the forest. Near the end of Chapter 8, he imagines or hallucinates the beast telling him, "You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you?" Simon is also the one who uses the forest for peaceful excursions. He is the one who still views it as that original paradise. If he had been a stronger leader, the other boys might have followed his example.
When Simon emerges from the forest (end of Chapter 8), the boys are in a frenzy and they kill him, thinking he is the beast. The boys have already become more inclined to violence than when they first arrived on the island. Now, they tap into that savage behavior and feed on their fear of the "beast" emerging from the dark, dangerous forest. Here again, Golding shows the association of the boys' fear of danger lurking in the dark forest with the potential violence lurking in their minds. And it comes to a tragic climax.