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Lord of the Flies Biblical Allusions

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Almost everybody has read a book that, at first glance, seems like an ordinary book, but actually contains a hidden deeper meaning. Many authors use allusions to express these hidden meanings, and one of the most commonly alluded texts is the Bible. Lord of the Flies is a superb example of a novel packed full of allusions to the Bible. William Golding, the author, used these allusions and other literary devices to state his opinions on various subjects. Golding’s entire novel is devoted to answering the age-old question: is man naturally good or evil, and his position is backed up by these Biblical references. Golding’s use of Biblical allusions in Lord of the Flies calls attention to the corruption, laziness, narrow-mindedness, and savage tendencies of man that ruin civilized society. The first notable Biblical allusion in the novel is the island itself representing the Garden of Eden. The island, Eden, starts out as a beautiful innocent place, untouched by the evil influences of man. Soon after the boys crash, Ralph describes the island as “a good island” (Golding 35).

The innocence of Eden is reflected in the innocence of its inhabitants: everything is fine until the boys think up a beast in the jungle. The original beast, the “snake-thing,” is an allusion to the serpent that tempted Eve committing the first sin (35). This first beast is actually the creepers in the forest that are personified by the younger boys’ fear. In the novel, a piglet “caught in a curtain of creepers”, first gives Jack the desire to kill pigs (31). The piglet represents the forbidden fruit, and as soon as the boys take a bite, they are doomed to savagery. The boys display their savagery soon after they kill their first pig, chanting “Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Spill her blood” (69). The first pig they catch represents the first sin: this is the boy’s first loss of innocence as a whole, and they just keep descending deeper and deeper into savagery because of it. Just as the island starts out innocent and gradually became more and more savage, many societies start out with good intentions but eventually become corrupt.

During the novel, Ralph is analogous to Jesus, and Simon signifies Simon Peter. This is first made known when Ralph tells Piggy that “when [his father] gets leave he’ll come and rescue [the boys]” (13). Here, Ralph, Jesus, is saying that his father, God, rescue them from the island and take them back to sanity and civilization. Ralph would serve as the one who could get the boys rescued from the island and brought back to society, through is idea of the signal fire. Just as Simon Peter was a loyal disciple to Jesus, Simon is loyal to Ralph and supports him. Even though all of the boys should have been helping with the shelters, Ralph has “been working with Simon. No one else” (50). Simon, Peter, is the most loyal and hard-working of the boys, or deciples, and he had great respect for Ralph.

On the island, like in most societies, there are very few people who are truly loyal to a leader and will remain loyal under all circumstances. In other parts of the novel, Simon can be seen as the Christ figure instead of Ralph. Simon has great insight on human nature and is the first to suggest that the boys themselves were the beast. When Simon thinks of the beast, he imagines “a human at once heroic and sick” (103). Despite his understanding, Simon is still ridiculed for his ideas. Simon likes to go to his secret place in the jungle to meditate, and this is where he eventually meets the Beast. Similar to how Jesus sat in the wilderness for forty days before his confrontation with the Devil, Simon sits in the jungle for a time before he faces the Lord of the Flies.

Like Jesus, Simon fasts and doesn’t drink water during his meditation, which causes him to become “very thirsty [but] [h]e continue[s] to sit” (133). Simon neglects his physical needs on account of the Lord of the Flies. Simon is the bravest boy on the island because he is the one who goes to face the Beast, not only the Lord of the Flies, but also the physical ‘beast’ on the mountain. He realizes that the beast is “harmless and horrible; and the news must reach the others as soon as possible” (147). Although Simon knows that there is a Beast, the Lord of the Flies, he realizes that the corporeal beast is just what the boys’ imaginations make it. But when he tries to deliver the news, he is mistaken for what he is trying to save the boys from. In today’s societies, sometimes the most intuitive people are ostracized for being ‘odd,’ even though they may be the ones who hold the truth. The Beast, otherwise known as the Lord of the Flies, alludes to Satan.

The name ‘Lord of the Flies’ translates to Beelzebub in Hebrew, which means the Devil. The idea of a beast is first started with the creepers, and is furthered by Percival who believes “the beast comes out of the sea” (88). This directly alludes to a Beast in the Bible, “And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea” (Revelations 13:1). The beast is feared by the boys, and nearing the end, it seems as though they are worshipping it. They even offer it a sacrifice giving the head that would become the Lord of the flies to the beast as “a gift” (137). Ironically, it is the boy’s fear of the beast that creates the Beast, both the physical Lord of the Flies and the Beast within them.

All while Jack and the others are trying to find a beast, they are strengthening the Beast within themselves, and Simon is the only one to realize that the Beast is “part of [the boys]… [and] the reason why… things are what they are” (143). It is the Beast inside the boys that eventually ruins their society and sends them spiraling into chaos. According to Golding, many societies’ failure is because of the Beast, brought out by fear, which causes people to revert to basic human nature: savagery. In Lord of the Flies, William Golding alludes to the Bible numerous times, attempting to make his point that civilized societies are doomed to ruin because of demoralization, lack of productive members in the society, insularity, and the brutal nature of man.

According to the text, the island is an untouched paradise until the boys arrive and corrupt it. Additionally, the boy’s society starts to collapse because not enough of its members are actually productive. Societies where law-making is turned into a ritual tend not to accomplish much because when making the laws or deciding to undertake a project, they rarely think about actually having to follow the laws or help with the project. Useful members of a society are sometimes ostracized or ridiculed because they may be slightly different than other members, and the society loses their valuable input. Lastly, many societies ruled by superstition will crumble because fear of the unknown brings out the worst qualities in man. Golding’s underlying message in the novel is that no matter how civilized a society may claim to be, the society is still comprised of humans, and humans have many faults that will lead to the society’s demise.

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