Lord of the Flies Literary Analysis

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  • Protagonist: Ralph
  • Antagonist: Jack
  • Theme
  • VS
  • Ralph is a dynamic character who begins the novel as an optimist thinking the island will be a grand adventure. As the boys get more and more savage, he becomes hopeless and sees the island as a terrible place. Ralph is round because readers see many sides of him. He can be optimistic, kind, and a good leader; however, he can also be mean, jealous, and hopeless. His attitude changes often throughout the story.
  • Foreshadowing: "The great rock loitered, poised on one toe, decided not to return, moved through the air, fell, struck, turned over, leapt droning through the air and smashed a deep hole in the canopy of forest" (28)
  • Jack is a fairly flat character since readers mostly only see his power hungry, violent side. He starts off with a more childish jealousy and wish for power which changes to an evil, violent, dictatorial power making him dynamic. He grows from an innocent boy to a murderous savage.
  • Imagery: "The boys...moved over the beach, four plate-like shadows dancing and mingling beneath them. ... The sky and mountain were at an immense distance, shimmering in the heat; and the reef was lifted by mirage, floating in a kid of silver pool halfway up the sky" (173-4)
  • Mankind is innately evil and without some outside civilizing force will become savage. The boys' fall from civilty to savagery illustrates Golding's dark, pessimistic ideas about humanity. With no civilizing force to keep them well behaved, they succomb to their darkest urges.
  • Symbol: "the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist” (181)
  • When the boys first explore the moutain, they have fun pushing a giant boulder off the cliff so it smashes into the jungle below. This foreshadows the way Piggy dies later when a giant boulder is dropped on him.
  • Golding uses imagery throughout the novel to describe the setting of the island and make it come to life for readers. The visual descriptions help the reader see what the characters see and brings life to the harsh landscape.
  • The conch shell represents order, civility and power throughout the novel. It allows the holder to have a voice and keeps order in meetings. The shell is respected throughout most of the story. When the shell is broken with Piggy's death, their last shred of civility is broken and they become true savages.
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