Significance of the Title Lord of the Flies

Significance of the Title Lord of the Flies

Significance of the Title Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies” as a title is most appropriate for this novel of Golding, as it gives us a definite clue to the major theme of the novel. The title clearly shows that the novel was intended to have an allegorical purpose. The Lord of the Flies is Beelzebub, mentioned in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Beelzebub is the prince of demons and Milton used this name for one of his fallen angles. For a novel to have this title, evidently shows that the theme of the story would be evil, or a clash between the forces of evil and the forces of good. And, indeed such a clash is the principal theme of this particular novel.

The phrase “Lord of the Flies” first comes in chapter-8, when we find Simon alone in the jungle. He is looking from his hiding place in the forest at the fly covered head of dead pig killed by Jack and his hunters. Jack cut off the Sow’s head, offered it as a sacrifice to the beast in order to appease the beast. This is a “gift for the darkness. Simon has observed the doings of Jack and his hunters and the Sow’s head seems to Simon to be Beelzebub – the lord of the flies. He feels as if the head the lord of the flies, was speaking to him. It wars Simon that he cannot escape him, the beast, for he is a part of everyone and he is responsible for all of their difficulties. He threatens Simon repeatedly and finally Simon faints. This hallucination is described at the end of chapter-8 and it explains the title of the novel and the allegorical significance of the whole story.

The head of the pig hung on a stick, becomes a symbol of terror. Golding gives it the title Lord of the Flies which is a translation of the Arabic word Baal-zebub, the name of a devil. The head of the pig represents the evil of unreason. The Flies that buzz over the guts of the Sow are instinctive beings and they represent the primitive urges that dominate the boys. He (Lord of the Flies) asks Simon to go away. Simon insists that the Lord of the flies is only a “Pig’s head on a stick”.

In fact this whole episode is a symbolic representation of the conflict between the highest and lowest impulses in man. Lord of the Flies explains that the boys would never be able to hunt or kill the beast. And, then the Lord of the Flies says:

“You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you?”

It answers the question why the civilization of boys is a total failure. The destructive element is in the boys themselves. Golding wants to say that whatever name you give to the evil – devil, sin, neurosis, hate, violence, brutality – the fact is that evil exists inside man. The symbolic encounter between Simon and the lord of the flies represents the conflict between good and evil — as it is found in every man.

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As Simon and lord of the flies represent universal tendencies, so each of the other characters stand for a single quality cruelty, destructiveness, creativity or intellect that exists to a greater or lesser degree in every man. Ralph’s tendency to adventure and common sense, Piggy‘s intellectualism, Simon’s religious feelings and mystic behaviour Roger’s instinct for torture, Jack’s inclination towards destruction, all are part of man and man’s moral out-look decides how these tendencies are oriented in him. These are all present as impulses in man.

The novel negates the belief that naturally good man is the innocent and helpless victim of social forces over which he has no control. Golding also rejects Rousseau’s ideal of the noble savage- natural man was good by instinct is victimized from birth by society which is the real culprit. Golding follows the Biblical point of view of human nature, in the first book, the Book of Genesis (Old Testament), Adam and Eve is presented as having brought their own downfall through disobedience, which has been called original sin. Theologians think that all mankind is sinful and wicked because Adam and Eve were sinful. From this point of view man is born into the world in a state of original sin, a fault traceable to his own human nature and not to society.

Thus Golding believes in the fall of man. But Golding does not merely hold the religious point of view held by Christianity. His main concern is with human nature. His second novel The Inheritors also present the under-standing of primitive mind. He believes that there can be no happy solution to the problems of man’s society because the defects of human nature” shape society. He stresses the point that man is evil by instinct. He can only be controlled by external forces, the norms of society. The moment he is free of these norms or rules and regulations and is given to himself he turns savage – as the boys on the island do.

Golding like Conrad exposes the inner darkness of modern man. His ideal is the Neanderthal man, i.e., 12000 BC man of Europe. As Golding puts it:

“I decided to take the literary convention of the boys on an island only to make them real boys instead of paper cut-outs with no life in them and tried to show how the shape of the society they evolved would be conditioned by their disease their fallen nature. In fact they regress to savagery. They try to construct a civilization on the island but it breaks down into blood and terror because the boys are suffering from the terrible disease of being human beings. I am a propagandist for Neanderthal man.”

To be curt, we can say that the title Lord of the Flies is most appropriate for this novel because it very beautifully presents the theme of the novel man is by nature evil. And when Jack presents a sacrifice to the beast Golding succeeds in dispelling the notion that man is basically good. Golding believes that man is follower of the Lord of the Flies. As Lord of the Flies utters:

“I’m part of you.”


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