In William Golding's Lord of the Flies, are there any biblical references?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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  • Lord of the Flies

The most obvious Biblical allusion is in the title itself: Lord of the Flies. The etymology of this name comes from various sources, among them the Book ofSolomon in the Old Testament. There he is equated with Beelzebul, A Philistine deity. Another variant of the spelling, Baalzebub seems to mean "lord of the flies." In Mark 3:22 of the New Testament he is also mentioned, but as "Beelzeboul, the prince of demons. In Paradise Lost, he is second in command, the mouthpiece of Satan. In Bensfield's Classification of Demons, he is ranked among the seven princes of Hell; his means of tempting is by the sin of gluttony.

  • Book of Genesis

Other allusions are made to the Book of Genesis and the Garden of Eden. When Ralph sees that he is on a beautiful, pristine island, he removes his clothes and is naked in resemblance to Adam before he sins. Then, after Jack and the others become more savage, they paint themselves, perhaps, in some guilt. Continuing the motif of Eden, the boys talk of their fears and describe "a serpent-thing."

  • Prophet/Mystic

The character of Simon is much like a mystic or prophet. He tries to tell the boys that the evil which they fear is actually withing their natures. Faced with the vision of the Lord of the Flies, Simon is told,

"You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you?....I'm the reason why it's no go? Why things are what they are?"

Some critics find Simon's confrontation with the Lord of the Flies as a reference to Satan's appearance to Jesus as He fasted in the desert. And, perhaps, the buzzing flies around the pig's head foreshadow death. For, like Jesus, Simon becomes a sacrificial victim at the hands of the others.

  • Jack as a Devil

With his red hair, black cloak, (colors of the devil) and painted face later on, Jack seems a disciple of dark forces.

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