Lord of the Flies Characters

Lord of the Flies is a multi-layered and character-rich novel. Golding utilized numerous, well-developed characters throughout.

They will appeal to readers for one reason or another. Some are more sympathetic, while others are easier to dislike. Each acts as a symbol for something else, such as leadership, hate, or the devolution of humankind.

Lord of the Flies Characters


Ralph

Ralph is often cited as the novel’s protagonist. He is the first character introduced in the book and is referred to as “fair.” This term represents his physical appearance (his hair and skin) and is also a reflection of his character. Like many of the characters in Lord of the Flies, Ralph represents a concept. He is symbolic of leadership and, in particular, a democratic approach. Interestingly, he is not shown to be as intelligent as Piggy, from whom he gets a lot of his ideas. But he is thrust into leadership due to his good looks and impressive physical stature – which in itself could be considered a commentary.

Jack

Jack is the antagonist of Lord of the Flies. Although Ralph tries to get along with Jack, Jack dislikes Ralph after he is made the leader. It is because of this that Jack represents a desire for power. He also represents a dictatorship. When he finds himself in a leadership role later, he creates a tyrannical regime.

Piggy

Piggy is the character with the most adult-like attributes. He is not really interested in fun. Instead, his mind is focused on a return to civilization. He seems to represent rationalization and order. While he can occasionally seem whiny, in many ways, he is the brains behind Ralph’s leadership. There is an interesting dynamic switch as the novel evolves, with Ralph initially dismissive of Piggy but later becoming increasingly reliant on him. In many ways, Piggy’s death represents the total descent to savagery.

Roger

Roger is arguably one of the novel’s most unlikeable characters. He, even more so than Jack, represents savagery. While Jack can be manipulative. Roger is just sadistic. He acts as Jack’s right-hand man and is responsible for Piggy’s death (rolling a boulder onto him). Roger’s descent is shown when earlier in the novel, he is seen throwing stones at the “little ‘ens” but deliberately missing (but purely because he feels restrained by the remnants of societal expectations).

Simon

If Roger represents mankind’s innate capacity for evil, then Simon represents the desire to be good. Simon is the moral compass of the story, and the fact that his death is not the pinnacle of the book’s action informs what the message of the novel is. Simon seems to have a deep connection with the island, which seems almost spiritual. He sees visions and can translate and really grasp that the beast that everybody fears is not a physical being but is within all of the boys on the island. Simon is pretty much the only character to never succumb to the allure of the so-called savagery.

Sam and Eric

The twins are interesting characters. At the start of the novel, they seem relatively distinct, but as the novel progresses, even their name becomes a single entity. They remain loyal to Ralph through most of the novel but eventually succumb to a new leader in Jack. In this regard, they seem to represent regular people who follow the leader regardless of whether they feel that leader is morally right. The act of betraying Ralph near the novel’s conclusion is deeply symbolic of man’s presumed compliance with dictatorships.

The Beast

Although not really a character, the presence of the so-called beast is prevalent throughout. Sam and Eric believe the beast is the dead man on the parachute. There are suggestions that it is a snake or even a big cat (although that idea is quickly dispelled.) The Beast could be the pig’s head (or the “Lord of the Flies”) that Simon talks to. Although as the novel progresses, it becomes clear that the beast is within the children themselves.

The little ‘ens

There are some named characters among the little ‘ens. However, they are not focused on in-depth during the novel. They are often there as a reminder of the innocence of youth. While the older boys try and construct a society, the little ‘ens are content with playing in the sand despite becoming quite ill.

The Island

One could make a valid argument for the Island being a prominent character within Lord of the Flies. The mess that the plane crash makes of the island is referred to as “the scar,” and this is a very deliberate word choice. There are no women present in the story, and the reason for this is contentious. Some have argued that women are a key component of society.

Golding himself once said, “women are foolish to pretend they are equal to men. They are far superior.” Some have suggested that with women on the island that the savage behavior that might have ensued would have been far too problematic to publish. However, nature and the island itself are often subject to personification throughout the novel. Could this be “mother nature?”

FAQs

Who are the 5 main characters in Lord of the Flies?

The five main characters are: Piggy, Simon, Ralph, Roger, and the island itself.

What do the characters represent in Lord of the Flies?

Some of the characters represent democracy and peace while others represent savagery and devolution of social norms.

What is Piggy’s real name?

Piggy’s real name is never revealed in the novel. It has been speculated to be Perkins or Peter.

About Lee-James Bovey
Lee-James, a.k.a. LJ, has been a Book Analysis team member since it was first created. During the day, he's an English Teacher. During the night, he provides in-depth analysis and summary of books.
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