Symbolism and allegory are powerful literary devices used by authors to convey deeper meanings and themes in their works. In both George Orwell's "Animal Farm" and William Golding's "Lord of the Flies," these techniques are employed to provide insightful commentaries on human nature, societal structures, and the corrupting influence of power. This essay explores the use of symbolism and allegory in both novels and how they contribute to the portrayal of complex themes.
In "Animal Farm," George Orwell uses animals as the main characters to allegorically represent the Russian Revolution and the subsequent rise of the Soviet Union. Each animal in the story symbolizes a specific historical figure or group. For instance, Old Major, the wise and respected boar, represents Karl Marx, who serves as the inspiration for the animals' rebellion. Napoleon, the power-hungry pig, symbolizes Joseph Stalin, while Snowball represents Leon Trotsky, who is eventually driven out of the farm, paralleling Trotsky's exile from the Soviet Union.
Moreover, the farm itself serves as a symbol of the idealistic vision of a utopian society built on equality and fairness. However, as the story progresses, the dream of a just society is corrupted by the pigs' thirst for power, leading to a totalitarian regime that mirrors the oppressive nature of the Russian leadership. Through the allegorical portrayal, Orwell highlights the dangers of revolution without a clear plan for governance and the potential for power to corrupt even the noblest of ideals.
Likewise, William Golding's "Lord of the Flies" employs symbolism and allegory to explore the darker aspects of human nature and the breakdown of civilization. The deserted island, where a group of boys finds themselves stranded after a plane crash, symbolizes a microcosm of society. The boys' gradual descent into savagery and chaos mirrors the collapse of societal norms and the emergence of primitive instincts in the absence of established authority.
One of the most prominent symbols in the novel is the conch shell, which initially serves as a symbol of order and democracy. It represents the boys' commitment to civilized behavior and the need for cooperation. However, as the story unfolds, the conch's significance diminishes, paralleling the disintegration of law and order on the island.
The character of Jack represents the lure of savagery and anarchy. As the leader of the hunters, he becomes obsessed with hunting and violence, symbolizing the destructive forces within humanity. Ralph, on the other hand, embodies rationality and democratic values, symbolizing the struggle to maintain order and civilization in the face of chaos.
Additionally, the figure of the "Beast" on the island acts as a powerful allegory for the primal fears and darkness that reside within the human psyche. The "Beast" takes different forms, representing both the boys' fear of the unknown and their fear of their own inner capacities for cruelty and violence.
Both "Animal Farm" and "Lord of the Flies" use symbolism and allegory to convey profound themes and insights about human nature and society. Orwell and Golding use their fictional worlds to explore the complexities of power, authority, and the potential for corruption and violence within human communities. Through their masterful use of symbolism and allegory, these novels continue to resonate with readers, offering timeless lessons about the human condition and the fragility of civilization.