11

Lord of the Flies contains an absurd amount of biblical references, one of which being the titular character. The creature is obviously supposed to be some kind of demon or devil, but is this a specific reference to a specific religious creature?

Did the Lord of the Flies have any kind of religious reference more specific than just the Devil?

11

The entire book can be seen as an allegory for the Bible. It has a startlingly large number of allusions to Jewish and Christian myths and stories. Here are some of them:

  • The island, in the beginning, is a parallel for the Garden of Eden
  • Ralph's first act upon reaching the island is to take off his clothes and jump into the water. This symbolizes the nakedness of Adam and Eve and the Christian rite of Baptism
  • The boys then form a society out of this, like the human race forming out of Adam and Eve
  • Jack and Ralph can be seen as Cain and Abel
  • The beastie, which the boy with the birthmark refers to as a snake-thing, like the snake of Eden leading to original sin
  • Obviously, the whole "Lord of the Flies=Satan" thing, as well as the translation of Beezlebub into Lord of the Flies. The Lord of the Flies might also represent the snake.
  • However, Satan does not bring about the "original sin." Instead, the evil is found within the residents of Eden. Thus Golding is proclaiming against religion.
  • Simon as Christ. This is a bit of a stretch, but sort of makes sense when you think about it.

Basically, the Lord of the Flies tries to demonstrate that the Bible was wrong; that men have always had evil inside of us, and that it was not the snake's fault, that is just human nature.

It doesn't hurt that the whole thing comes from World War II, in which Golding fought; this is probably where he got those ideas about human nature.

  • Not to mention the fact that everything is in threes, like the holy trinity. – Parzival Jan 29 '17 at 16:48
4

I can think of 3 other references, just in the very first bit of the book:

  • The island could be considered to be Eden from the Bible.

  • The "snake-thing" could be a reference to the serpent who tempted Adam and Eve

  • (a bit of a stretch but sorta) Ralph's removal of his clothes to bathe could be related to baptism/the fact that Adam and Eve didn't start with any clothes.

4

Existing answers have covered a few of these concepts, but there was plenty of Christian iconography apart from the devil who promoted evil among mankind.

The island itself, particularly Simon's glade, functions as a kind of Garden of Eden that is gradually corrupted by the introduction of evil. Simon's glade turns into a kind of church because of him. Within, Simon attracts the most idyllic and flighty creatures -

He squatted down, parted the leaves [...] gaudy butterflies that danced around each other.

When Simon is stabbed to death by boys with pointed sticks, we are reminded of a certain 'hero' who was beaten by men with sticks before he was killed on a stick. Further, Simon is the character who arrives at the moral truth of the novel, and because he is killed sacrificially as a consequence of having discovered the truth, his life contains strong parallels with that of Jesus Christ. His conversation with the Lord of the Flies similarly parallels the confrontation between Christ and the devil in Christian theology.

However, the parallels between Simon and Christ are incomplete, so the novel is not a pure Christian allegory. Simon is an unsung, solitary, stammering boy where Jesus was an altruistic saviour. For another thing, Simon lacks the supernatural connection to the divine that is the main characteristic of Jesus. Simon is is wise in many ways, with a high intuitive intelligence and exceptional bravery. Yet he is no son of God, and his death does not bring salvation to the island. Rather, his death plunges the island into deeper savagery and moral guilt. For another, Simon dies before he can tell the boys what he has discovered, while Christ managed to spread his moral philosophy before he was crucified.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.