Lord of the Flies Questions and Answers
by William Golding

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How does Simon's epilepsy relate to symbolism in "Lord of the Flies"?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Throughout history, many saints and prophets were believed to have been epileptic. There have been claims that the Prophet Muhammad and the Apostle Paul were both epileptic, which, it was believed, gave them the ability to speak to God and receive prophecies. In Golding's novel Lord of the Flies, Simon also suffers from epileptic seizures and continually faints in front of the boys. Simon is depicted as a Christ figure and is the only boy on the island who truly understands the nature of the beast. Simon's epilepsy helps characterize him as a symbolic Christ figure who has a supreme knowledge that the others cannot comprehend. Unlike the other boys, Simon is depicted as a solely benevolent individual. He realizes that the beast is mankind's inherent wickedness. Overall, Simon's epilepsy symbolically associates his character with the saints and prophets of the past and helps characterize him as a symbolic Christ figure in the novel.

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Epilepsy was once thought of as a curse or as a condition that gave one prophetic power. Simon's disease separates him from the other boys and helps him represent the spiritual side of goodness and kindness. He stands in stark contrast to Jack, who symbolizes the evil side of mankind. Simon's violent death, which occurs when he tries to bring the truth about "the beast" to the rest the boys, adds to both the Biblical motifs of the story and the idea that mankind often rejects the truth about its own evil nature. "The beast" is, after all, only a human and Simon states asks early in the novel if "maybe the beast is us." This helps symbolize the darkness in the nature of mankind.

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