Religious theme in Lord of the Flies


Religious Persecution:
An underlying theme in The Lord of the Flies

Like many excellent works, William Golding\'s novel, The Lord of the Flies can be read on many different levels. It is possible to read the book literally, as a mere story about boys marooned on an island. It is also possible to read the book as an indictment of the nature of man - as being pure evil without society\'s boundaries. A further analysis of The Lord of The Flies reveals something else - the novel has many references to religious persecution throughout history. Golding uses many religious elements along with metaphors representing the death of Jesus, the torture of Jews in the Holocaust, and the ascent and reign of Hitler in Nazi Germany to present an underlying theme of religious persecution that proves his grim outlook on the nature of man.
Golding\'s use of religious elements allows for the plausibility of the religious persecution theme. The island the boys find themselves on is pristine and untouched - like the Garden of Eden - until they arrive. However, once the boys arrived, they left a scar on the island, in much the same way Adam and Eve left a scar in the Garden of Eden. Another religious element Golding uses is in the title of the book. ‘Lord of the Flies\' translates into ‘Beelzebub\' in Greek - a name for the Devil. This suggests the entire book is about the epitome of religious evil - the Devil himself. A final religious element is well hidden. The "stick sharpened at both ends" exists not only in Golding\'s description of the killing of the sow, but also in the Bible in the story of David and Goliath. After David kills Goliath, the giant\'s head is cut off and placed on a "stick sharpened at both ends" and is used to frighten enemies. The similar usage of the stick in this novel (in which the beast\'s head is used to frighten the enemies of Jack\'s clan), alludes to the fact that the book has a religious undertone. The combination of these religious elements makes it easier for the reader to think of clues found later in the book as descriptions of religious events.
If it is accepted that religion is a part of this book, it becomes possible to see the killing of Simon as metaphorical of the killing of Jesus. Both Jesus and Simon spent their final night on top of mountains (Jesus on top of the Mount of Olives) and see visions of man\'s sin. Also, both Jesus and Simon were philosophers and lovers of beauty, able to see good even when all seemed bad. Like Jesus, Simon was able to take himself away from evil, he "turned away from them and went where the just perceptible path led him...he came to a place where more sunshine fell." Finally, both were persecuted for their beliefs. Simon and Jesus tried to tell everyone else about their sin and their capacity to be redeemed. Instead, both were killed because of the sin of others; Jesus died for the sins of the Israelites and Simon died because the other children recognized him as the symbol for their sin - the beast. The similarities between Jesus and Simon are too numerous to be coincidental, Golding\'s Simon is the Bible\'s Jesus.
In much the same way Simon\'s death represents the death of Jesus, Piggy\'s death is a metaphor for the Holocaust. Golding was a Jewish man living in Britain during World War II. He was deeply troubled by the images he saw of the Holocaust and he portrayed that masterfully in this novel. Piggy was different from all the other boys as the Jews were different from the Germans. Piggy was referred to only by his derisive nickname, much in the same way as Jews were stripped of their names and called ‘Jew bastard\' or ‘kike.\' Piggy represented most of the intelligence of the boys\' society and the Jews have been regarded as one of the most intelligent groups in the time of Nazi Germany. Both the Jews in WWII and Piggy were constantly ridiculed by a powerful group - the Jews by Hitler\'s men, and Piggy by Jack\'s men.