William Golding's Lord of the Flies is an extremely complex and symbolic novel that goes beyond a group of English schoolboys who are stranded on an island and forced to survive on their own. In the story, William Golding displays both the civilized and the primitive personalities that mankind possesses. In Lord of the Flies, William Golding uses the characters, symbolism, and setting to give a detailed description of these two faces of human nature.
The characters in Lord of the Flies serve as archetypes that depict the conflict between man's journey toward civilization and his urges to become primitive. Ralph, Piggy, Simon, and Jack are the most important characters in the novel.
Ralph is the protagonist in Lord of the Flies. He is elected as the chief of the group (23). Ralph symbolizes democracy and order on the island. As the chief, Ralph takes it upon himself to establish rules for the group to follow (42) and he stresses the importance of each boy doing his duty.
Piggy embodies reason and intelligence. He represents the rationality and logic that is necessary in a civilized society. Piggy comes up with the idea of collecting the names of all the boys on the island (18), using the conch to call assemblies (17), and having meetings.
Simon is the Christ figure in Lord of the Flies. He represents the goodness within man. He reveals his kind-heartedness through helping the littluns get fruit (56), helping Piggy find his glasses (71), and giving meat to Piggy (74). Simon is the first boy to come to the realization that there is no beast, that "maybe it's us" (89). He comes to accept that the evil that exists on the island is within him and the other boys. .
Jack is the antagonist of Lord of the Flies and his characteristics are the opposite of Ralph's. Jack first displays his savage-like personality in his description of killing the first pig (69). Jack is also obsessed with gaining power.