Why does Golding name his novel, Lord of the Flies?

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For a novel that deals with the theme of innate evil, Golding's story about boys who turn to violence and savagery on an deserted island is aptly named Lord of the Flies.  Interestingly enough, Lord of the Flies was not Golding's original title, which was Strangers from Within.  The publisher and editor tried out eighteen different titles before suggesting Lord of the Flies, after the iconic symbol within the book in Chapter Eight, "Gift for the Darkness," and Golding liked it more than his first choice. 

The Lord of the Flies who appears in Chapter Eight is a pig's head on a stick, Jack's sacrifice left for the beast.  As Simon finds the gift, flies have begun to swarm:

"They were black and iridescent green and without number; and in front of Simon, the Lord of he Flies hung on his stick and grinned" (138).

The Lord of the Flies is also a religious allusion to Beelzebub, which translated literally means "Lord of the Flies" (Notes on Lord of the Flies 205).  In Golding's novel, he is the epitome of evil, and taunts Simon that the beast is from within:

"You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you? Close, close, close! I'm the reason it's no go?  Why things are what they are?" (143)

Golding's title Lord of the Flies fits perfectly with the larger theme of the novel, man's irrevocable urge toward baser instincts and innate evil.



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Lord of the Flies

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