Satan appearing in the form of a pig s head; the essence of Christ projected into a boy; young boys struggling between good and evil while roaming around on an Eden like island. These are the images that William Golding depicted in his book Lord Of the Flies, the story of a group of English boys stranded alone on a deserted island after their plane crashes. Golding makes Biblical allusions to the Garden of Eden, Christ, and the battle between good and evil, showing the reader, that without a balance of good and evil in the human soul, evil will triumph.
To start off with, the island in Lord of the Flies is both a wonderland and a nightmare to the boys. At first view the island is a paradise surrounded by ocean and beaches, fruit trees, forests, animals, tropical flowers, flamboyantly colored birds, and a mountain right in the middle. As in the Garden of Eden, the boys seem to have no worries and see no need for explanations, until the serpent appears and a question is asked, Beastie? A snake-thing. Ever so big. He saw it. Where? In the woods, (36). The introduction of a snake-thing into the scene brings a feeling of uncertainty to the boys. Their eyes are opened to the truth that they might not be alone and there is something evil lurking around their island. As in the story of Eden, the serpent opens the eyes of the inhabitants of the garden to the reality of their seemingly perfect and serene surroundings.
Next, there are two sides to everything in the book Lord of the Flies. William Golding focuses on the difference between light and dark, and good and evil, in both objects and people. First of all, Golding elaborates on the idea that even in the midst of utter beauty there is an essence of darkness in all objects. For example, in the beginning while Ralph is exploring the island, the first creature he sees is a vision of red and yellow, flashed upwards with a witch-like cry; (7). Even in the presence of a beautifully colored bird the essence of evil lurks in it s voice. Another example of good and evil is the mountain, whose two sides are described as friendly and unfriendly, showing the coexistence between light and darkness. Just as in the Garden of Eden, the first image of paradise masks the underlying evil.
Continuing on to the topic of good and evil between characters, the boys Ralph and Jack display these differences in the way they command the boys and in their physical descriptions. You could see now that he (Ralph) might make a boxer, as far as width and heaviness of shoulders went, but there was a mildness about his mouth and eyes that proclaimed no devil. (p.10). The book goes on to describe … Ralph s golden body… (p.11). The reader is able to make a distinction between the two leaders when Jack comes in the picture. … He was tall, thin, and bony; and his hair was red beneath the black cap. His face was crumpled and freckled, and ugly without silliness. Out of his face stared two light blue eyes, frustrated now, and turning or ready to turn, to anger. (p. 20). Golding makes use of color in the boys descriptions by using gold and red as a way to distinguish them as good and evil.
In addition to the descriptions, the roles of good and evil are apparent in Ralph and Jack as they battle over power. Jack is power-hungry, manipulating the others gives him power. Jack feeds the boys needs to be blood thirsty and, using that influence, he draws the boys to his side. Jack also uses physical intimidation on the boys in his tribe to keep them under control. He accomplishes this by beating Wilfred, one of the older boys for no apparent reason. Ralph, on the other hand, is a smart, reality-oriented boy, who keeps a level- head and tries to be fair with the boys by ruling without extreme force or intimidation.
The problem with Ralph s form of leadership is that the boys have no fear of consequences for disobeying Ralph s orders. Rather than working to keep a fire going or build shelters, they run off to busy themselves with something more entertaining. This makes Ralph a weak leader in the eyes of the boys. Jack soon steps up to take control away from Ralph. Jack achieves the take over because he plays up to the boys evil desires for blood and glory, while Ralph s just and good actions do not satisfy the boys. In the battle between good and evil, evil s immediate satisfaction triumphs over the hard earned rewards of good.
Another biblical allusion in the book is to the Christ figure, symbolized by a boy named Simon, whose actions, personality traits, and fate are similar to those of Jesus Christ. First of all, Simon helps greatly in building the shelters and eases the hunger of the young ones. For an example, Simon found for them the fruit they could not reach, pulled off the choicest from up in foliage, passed them back down to the endless outstretched hands (56). This is similar to Christ, who himself was a carpenter and devoted most of his time to easing the suffering of his people, by feeding them and curing their ailments. Secondly, Simon and Christ are both described as visionaries who confront the devil. Simon sees the truth in the boys fear of the Beastie. Simon states, …maybe there is a beast… What I mean is… maybe it s only us, (89). In Simon s mind, he knows that the boys fear is more than an actual beast on the island, but in truth, the Beast is the boys cover-up for their other fears.
In addition to being visionaries, Simon and Christ both confront the devil. The boys become blood thirsty and obsessed with killing a pig. They kill a sow and leave her head as an offering for the Beastie, in hopes that the Beastie would not harm them. Simon encounters the devil in the form of the sow s head which speaks to him and tells him the truth. Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill! said the head… you knew didn t you? I m part of you? Close, close, close! I m the reason why things are what they are? (p. 142) After hearing the message that the devil was the reason why everything on the island was falling apart, Simon decides to bring his newly acquired knowledge to the others.
Finally, Simon and Christ both share a similar fate shortly after confronting the devil. The newly enlightened Simon, returns to the boys to tell them what he has just learned. But, the boys, who are caught up in a savage tribal dance around the fire, mistake him for the feared Beastie and beat him to death in a storm of confusion. In Christ s case, not long after confronting the devil on a mountain, he is crucified. In both cases the two were martyred before the possibility of bringing their new found knowledge to their people. The water rose farther and dressed Simon s course hair with brightness. The line of his cheek silvered…The strange attendant creatures, with their fiery eyes and trailing vapors, busied themselves around his head. (p. 154) Even in death, the imagery of halo-like light around Simon head demonstrates his holy and Christ-like similarity. Lord of the flies uses the idea of one of the worlds best known characters in the battle between good and evil, Jesus Christ, in the from of a little boy named Simon. Simon is the figure of goodness and enlightenment. He is the only character in the book that looks beyond the boys fear of the beast, fear or never being rescued, survival, and the conflict between Ralph and Jack and discovers that the truth of their fear was the evil lurking inside them all along.
In conclusion, William Golding uses allusions to the Garden of Eden, Christ, and the spiritual and human battle between good and evil to expound that in the depths of their souls, humans would rather succumb to temptation and simplicity rather than make hard efforts to achieve a goal. The battle between good and evil, light and darkness, as portrayed by the characters in this bleak and depressing book is a battle shared by all humanity. In addition, the balance between good and evil lies in a fragile balance and Lord of the Flies, by William Golding shows how easily that balance is shifted.