In this article you will learn about the archetypes in Lord of the Flies by William Golding, the classic novel containing various archetypes commonly seen in literature throughout the ages.
What are the Archetypes in Lord of the Flies?
Golding creates in Ralph the archetypal literary hero, not because he is a traditional hero who saves everyone but because he is the voice of decency, morality, strength and reason throughout the story while all around descend into madness and evil.
He is representative of good in the archetypal battle of good vs evil, where his counterpart Jack is the archetypal antagonist of the story who represents evil.
Jack is there to challenge everything that the hero of the story does, to antagonise.
He also acts as a form of archetypal temptress despite not being female, tempting and manipulating those around into doing his bidding and into doing bad things in order to achieve his own ends.
Piggy is the archetypal sidekick for Ralph, always at his side to provide support and guidance, as well as taking on an archetypal mother role for the other children in the story, particularly the younger children. He provides a nurturing presence and takes responsibility for the welfare of others in a motherly manner which no other character possesses.
Simon is the wise man of the story, albeit not old as the wise man usually is in literature, but he possesses the intelligence and calm wisdom to provide sage guidance to those around him. T
wins Sam and Eric are the archetypal fools, preferring to have fun over obeying the rules and not seeing the seriousness of the situation in which they find themselves.
Lord of the Flies Book Summary
- A British wartime evacuation aircraft crashes on a remote Pacific island, leaving a group of adolescent schoolboys as the only survivors.
- They all gather in one area at the sound of a conch found by Ralph and Piggy.
- Ralph believes grownups will rescue them but Piggy realises they need to organise themselves to survive.
- Ralph is elected chief, forming a democracy with three rules – to have fun, to survive and to maintain a constant smoke signal for potential rescuers.
- Rival Jack organises a group of choir boys into a clique of hunters, having not voted for Ralph as chief.
- A fire is created and the island is found to have food, including wild pigs.
- Piggy soon becomes an outcast and Simon, a quiet boy and leader figure, tries to protect the younger boys from the older ones.
- Order deteriorates quickly and many boys become idle, refusing to help with tasks like building shelter.
- Paranoia about a creature called the ‘beast’ on the island develops – Ralph maintains it does not exist but Jack insists he will kill it as part of his power struggle with Ralph.
- Jack draws his hunters away from maintaining the smoke signal and a ship passes without being aware they are present. Ralph confronts Jack, who assaults Piggy in anger.
- Jack, angered that others refuse to believe in the existence of the beast, forms his own tribe and an increasing number of boys join him.
- They hold feasts of pigs, bizarre rituals and paint their faces.
- Simon realises that the ‘beast’ Jack witnessed on the island is the body of a dead parachutist but, when he tells the boys this, they beat him to death, already in a frenzy from their rituals.
- Jack decides to steal Piggy’s glasses, the means of making fire on the island and thus the real source of power.
- On trying to retrieve the glasses Piggy is killed by Jack’s tribe and Ralph escapes, now aware that Jack’s tribe intend to kill him.
- They set fire to the forest but, with the hunters closing in on Ralph, he is found by a Navy Officer and the whole group are rescued, returning to their real ages and sobbing.
Lord of the Flies Archetype Examples
- Wise Man
- Good vs Evil
Want more literary archetypes?
Go check out our extensive list of archetypes in literature to find out more about the characters seen in literature throughout the ages.