In the novel, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, the archetypes and allegories seem to be overlooked or unnoticed; the deeper philosophical meaning, the heroism, and the journey all seem to be in the background of the story. Others may think that it is blatantly obvious the deeper meaning or what archetypes are present, but many don’t see it. The question is, why?
What are allegories and archetypes?
The first thing we should probably get out of the way is: What is an allegory and what are archetypes? Archetypes can be either character or situational. Character archetypes are the similarities between characters in different novels, such as the damsel in distress or the star-crossed lovers. Situational are the archetypes that are similar in plot, like the quest of a character or the battle between good and evil. Allegories are the deeper meaning of the story, what it could relate to or reference in the novel. In Lord of the Flies, there are many possible allegorical meanings, being political, historical, philosophical, religious, and many more if you are willing to look and analyze it.
The Philosophical Side (or sides!)
In this book all of these characters represent a part of the mind. Jack, one of the leads has this thing about hunting and looking for adventure rather than surviving, which then causes him to make some pretty large mistakes. He is the adrenaline that we all have that makes us keep going and do something extraordinary. When our adrenaline rushes, we tend to make those mistakes, but don’t even seem to notice them until the adrenaline has subsided.
” ‘There was lashings of blood,’ said Jack, laughing and shuddering, ‘you should’ve seen it!’ ” (p. 69)
Ralph is the leader of this group. He has to have the courage to make the rules and attempt to keep this group running smoothly. This is much like the part of the brain that tells you when to stand up, when to have gumption in certain situations:
” ‘The fire is the most important thing on the island. How can we ever be rescued except by luck, if we don’t keep a fire going? Is a fire too much to make?’ ” (p. 80)
The Beast has a large impact on the boys, as they are scared to even go in the woods with the thought of possibly getting attacked by it, even though they know they will have to go after it . This represents the fearing part of the brain that lets you know that you have to go after something, but something keeps holding you back from it.
” ‘I don’t think we’d ever fight a thing that size, honestly, you know. We’d talk but we wouldn’t fight a tiger. We’d hide. Even Jack ‘ud hide.’ ” (p. 124, Ralph)
The littluns in the story are the smallest children on the island. They are all very scared of this beast. They aren’t focused on survival, as they can’t really do much to help anyway.The littluns represent the childlike mindset that we have at times, when we just want to sit in play or even just cry. The art of us that doesn’t want to be an adult for a little while and pretend that nothing is happening out in the world:
“The littluns played here, if not happily at least with absorbed attention; and often as many as three of them would play the same game together.”
Throughout the story, there are all kinds of allegories and representations, it is just what each reader can relate it to, and how they see it as they read along.
How do they function together?
Throughout Lord of the Flies, there are many different archetypal characters that must interact with one another, and the situational archetypes really make the story.
- The hero: The hero in this novel is Ralph. He represents that leadership and the guy who is able to “save the day” when it comes to the boys on the island:
” ‘We need and assembly. Not for fun. Not for laughing and falling off the log’ —the group of littluns on the twister giggled and looked at each other— ‘not for making jokes, or for,’ — he lifted the conch in an effort to find the compelling word— ‘for cleverness. Not for these things. But to put things straight.’ ” (p. 79)
- The loyal retainer: The loyal retainer is always by the hero’s side. That person in the story is Piggy. After Jack leaves, Piggy chooses to stay with Ralph, and listens to every detail and gives a little advice and guidance here and there for him.
” ‘Do all right on our own,’ said Piggy. ‘It’s them that haven’t no common sense that make trouble on this island. We’ll make a little hot fire—‘ ” (p. 132)
- The anti-hero: The anti-hero is the character who kind of switches sides between the good and evil side. The character in Lord of the Flies is Jack. He tries to listen to Ralph sometimes andbe a follower, but for a good portion of the book, he chooses to do what he wants to do in contrary to what Ralph says.
” ‘I’m going off by myself. He can catch his own pigs. Anyone who wants to hunt when I do can come too.’ ” (p. 127)
- The fall: The fall is the point in the story when a character falls from a high status to a low status. In this novel, when Ralph falls from a high moral status to a point when he must protect himself against the hunters.
” He shot forward, burst the thicket, was in the open, screaming, snarling, bloody. He swung the stake and the savage tumbled over; but there were others coming toward him, crying out.” ( p 199)
- The battle between good and evil: For almost the last half of the book, Ralph and Jack are fighting between each other, Ralph with higher moral standards, Jack without them. They constantly bicker and fight. Towards the end, the real battle begins.
“Roger sharpened the stick at both ends. Ralph tried to attach a meaning to this, but could not.” (p. 1900
After analyzing Lord of the Flies, you novel can analyze different meanings. Even though it wasn’t one of my favorite books, William Golding had a great way of writing the imagery and creating the dialogue so that there were so many different meanings that could be conceived. It is easily to overlook them, but if you are willing the look, the archetypes and allegories are real easy to find.