The theme of Lord of the Flies is described by the author, William Golding, as follows:
"The theme is an attempt to trace the defects of society back to the defects of human nature. The moral is that the shape of a society must depend on the ethical nature of the individual and not on any political system however apparently logical or responsible."
This can be interpreted in a few ways. The central symbol itself, the "lord of the flies," is, like any true symbol, much more than the sum of its parts. The "lord of the flies," is a translation of the Hebrew Ba'alzevuv (Beelzebub in Greek). Literally represented as a sow's head thrust onto a stick, the Devil is not represented in any religious sense. The book rather suggests a reference to the Devil which represents decay, destruction, demoralization, hysteria, and panic, and who therefore fits in very well with Golding's theme. In the most symbolic scene of the book, in which the most nature-oriented of the boys, Simon, seems to be having a "conversation" with the sow's head (See also coffy's writeup above). It proclaims itself to be the "lord of the flies", and haunts Simon by saying, "You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you? Close, close close! I'm the reason why it's no go? Why things are the way they are?" Simon is the first to realize that "the beast" the boys are afraid of, doesn't exist. The boys themselves are the only "beasts" on the island. At the end of the scene, Simon imagines he is looking into a vast mouth. "There was a blackness within, a blackness that spread. . ." The mouth being a symbol of the insatiable, unreasoning nature which, in the next scene, finds Simon being killed by the crazed, savage boys. Simon being the only one who realized the horror of what they had become.
Another way to interpret this is to relate the problems of society to the problems of human behavior. There are people who starve and die from curable diseases in the world, and yet the wealthiest countries spend billions of dollars on the manufacturing of weapons for defense, instead of helping those who need it. In the book, Jack goes hunting with the twins and lets the fire go out whilst a ship passed by. Then when he came back to camp, Ralph was angry with him, and Jack was all but indifferent. These two situations relate in that people (society) get so caught up in their own, convenient lives that they neglect the lives of others. They create their own worlds in which they live and don't travel outside the confines of it. Everything else seems far away, and is too far away to affect their little world, so nothing really changes.
At the end of the book, when the civilized-turned-savage boys are rescued, it is by a ship that happens to be on its way to war. One situation is traded for another. Society may evolve, but there are still flaws in the beings that create it. There will always be essentially the same problems until there are no longer flaws in the human. Until man's heart has no darkness, then we can evolve into a more peaceful, "civilized" society.
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