Allegory in Lord of the Flies

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  • 0:04 What Is an Allegory?
  • 1:13 Biblical Allegory
  • 2:23 Geo-Political Allegory
  • 3:38 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Judith Dunkerly-Bean

Judith has taught university literacy and teacher education courses and holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction.

In this lesson, we will explore the novel ''Lord of the Flies'' as an allegorical tale. We will look at two types of allegories critics have found in the narrative - a biblical allegory and a geo-political one. A short quiz follows the lesson.

What Is An Allegory?

Let's say that you wanted a way to explain your beliefs and other abstract ideas but you didn't want to express them directly. You may decide to tell a story that has deeper meaning beyond superficial details, a story that's more like a really long metaphor. You want to create a tale in which characters, plot, and setting work together to symbolize situations found in real life.

An allegory is one such literary device you could use to communicate your ideas. It allows you to weave together themes and motifs to tell a story that allows for deeper interpretation.

Allegory is used in William Golding's classic novel Lord of the Flies. In this book, Golding's use of setting, plot, and characters are much more than they seem; they all work together to convey a particular message. We are going to look at two widely accepted allegorical readings of Lord of the Flies: the story as a biblical allegory and as a geo-political one. As we will soon see, Golding is trying to teach us something about human nature as well as issue a dire warning. Let's turn first to the biblical allegory in Lord of the Flies.

Biblical Allegory

Before the book is even opened, its similarities to stories of the Bible are apparent. The title Lord of the Flies is a literal translation of Beelzebub, a Hebrew name for Satan. The biblical allegory is also present in the setting. The boys' plane crash lands on a lush uninhabited island unscathed by human influence, a figurative Garden of Eden. The island provides fruit, materials for shelter, and in some sense, escape from the war raging in the outside world.

However, just as in the Bible, paradise will soon be lost, and its inhabitants will suffer a momentous downfall leading to their expulsion from the island. This downfall is foreseen by Simon, one of the novel's main protagonists. In many ways, Simon is a Christ-like figure. He is the only one in the story to care for and feed the younger children. He meditates in a forest glen and is met by evil - the sow's head, swarming with flies - just as Christ dwells in the Garden of Gethsemane and is tempted by Satan. Additionally, Simon, like Jesus, is eventually betrayed and dies as a result of the behavior of his former friends.

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