The Lord of the Flies Essay

Decent Essays

William Golding’s masterful use of symbolism is exemplified in his book Lord of the Flies, in which he uses masks to represent . These masks come in many forms, and by careful study of events throughout Golding’s novel, one discovers their significance. Physical masks are used by many characters such as Jack and Piggy, and they are perhaps the least ambiguous forms found in the book. The idea of a mask encompasses more than just these literal interpretations, however. Metaphorical masks are used in abundance throughout the book, and much can be revealed about the characters based on how or if they chose to wear their masks. The significance of these masks is also tied closely to the theme stating Man’s heart is evil.
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The boys take meetings less seriously as time progresses, and the world they once knew, “that understandable and lawful world, was slipping away” (Golding, 98). When he finally believes there is a beast, he attempts to show no outward signs of fear towards it. When Ralph is up on the mountain in search of the beast with Jack and Roger, he demonstrates his mindset. Out of desperation to seem respectable to the other boys, he “fused his fear and loathing into a hatred, and stood up” (Golding 135) in front of the beast. Furthermore, being labelled a coward is unfavourable regardless of one’s role in a group for social reasons. Hiding insecurities like these-- presented by the mask of darkness-- with bravery is an expedient way of dealing with the fear this mask presents.
Not all masks are metaphorical, however. Golding uses several physical masks that carry with them much symbolism and importance. Jack creates a mask early on in the novel by painting his face with clay. Immediately after the application of this paint, he breaks out into a psychotic, “bloodthirsty snarling” (Golding 66) of laughter and dance. This mask allows him to truly break free from his ties to civilized society by providing his mind a clean tablet of clay. His outer thoughts, now unshielded by his true identity, stray into the exciting forbidden territory of primal savagery and become impressed upon the slate.

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