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“Lord of the Flies” – literary techniques

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William Golding uses a variety of language techniques and symbols to develop character in his novel, “Lord of the Flies”. His use of symbols is also important in helping us track the changes in the characters as the novel progresses. In addition, Golding also makes use of graphic imagery in some areas to emphasise the traits of the characters. The tone and language within the dialogue between the characters also is utilised to reflect the personality of characters.

There is an extensive use of symbols in the novel “Lord of the Flies”. Golding’s use of symbols has allowed us to more accurately interpret the personality of each character, as well as their individual changes or changes as a group. His use of symbols achieves this by relating the characters to different traits and aspects of human nature and society. The conch is a powerful symbol of civilisation as well as democracy at the start of the novel. It is one of the reasons that Ralph was elected as chief, not just because of his size and appearance, but because, “most powerfully, there was the conch”. As the novel progresses, we see that the conch begins to lose its power, and with it we also see the boys as a whole becoming more like savages, until the destruction of the conch, which is a clear indicator that Jack and his group has descended into a group of savages. The pig is another symbol in the novel which is used to mark the changes in the characters. When the boys kill their first pig, it marks the loss of their innocence. The characters themselves are also symbols.

Ralph, similar to the conch, is a symbol of civilisation, and as the power shifts from Ralph to Jack, the group of boys too, become more like savages. The pig is another symbol in the novel which is used to mark the changes in the characters. When the boys kill their first pig, it marks the loss of their innocence. They are now savages who have hunted and kills animals and humans, no longer the innocent boys that swam in the lagoon at the beginning of the novel. The theme of civilisation versus savagery also suggests the idea that people naturally revert to cruelty and barbarism when law and order is not enforced, and this idea is shown by the change in the boys as the novel progresses. It is also established at the beginning of the novel that the choir will be a powerful group of people. This is done by how the others boys, especially Piggy, felt “intimidated by this uniformed superiority and the offhand authority in Merridew’s voice”. We are shown that Jack possesses leadership and authoritative qualities, and we also get the feeling that the choir are similar to a military in their obedience and uniformity.

Golding makes use of several different language techniques to help develop character. The novel is told from a third person perspective, however, it is a limited perspective, and the novel mainly follows Ralph. This perspective allows us to gain a relatively accurate insight into Ralph’s first hand thoughts and feelings, and to a lesser but sufficient extent, those of other characters. Being narrated in third person, we are able to judge the characters from our own perspective and not through the eyes of another. The tone and language used in the dialogue between characters effectively reflects the status and personality of the different characters. Piggy speaks without using proper grammar, and this is reflective of his socio-economic status.

Together with his appearance, we are able to conclude that Piggy comes from a poorer background than the rest of the other boys, and thus, is a lower class person than the rest of the older boys, who appear to come from relatively rich families, as reflected in their speech as well as they are described. In contrast to Piggy, the other boys speak with proper grammar, and also with a more arrogant and authoritative tone. Jack’s desire for power is clearly shown, as his speech portrays to us his arrogance, confidence, as well as his aggressive and naturally savage behaviour. His aggression and savage behaviour is shown particularly by his attitude towards Piggy, as well as his hunting of pigs, in which he recalls the memory of having killed it as a “long satisfying drink”. This suggests his enjoyment and satisfaction that killing other living things gives him. Often Jack disregards Piggy’s opinion, and he also displays eagerness to physically hurt Piggy in particular.

The use of imagery is another technique that enables us to gain an insight into the nature of the characters. Adjectives are used to portray a realistic image of the events which occur, such as the killings of the pigs. The graphic presentation of these killings of the pigs enhances the feeling of savagery we see in the boys. The description of the boys during the ritual on the beach where Simon is killed, also enabled us to see that evil and savageness existed within all the boys except for Simon, who is portrayed to be naturally good natured. The ritual is described as being the “throb and stamp of a single organism”. This portrays us that the boys during that scene were like a single primitive creature. That particular part of the novel emphasises the idea of innate human evil, and the event which follows – Piggy and Ralph reflecting and regretting what they had done to Simon, is another factor in helping us judge the extent of the evil in the characters.

“Lord of the Flies” uses a variety of methods to help develop character in the novel. He makes use of symbolism to enable us to see the traits and changes in the characters within the novel. Various language techniques are used as well, and these techniques in addition to symbolism, help to portray to us the behaviour and personality of the characters. Also, imagery is made use of effectively to further enhance how we view the personality of the boys.

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