In this essay, I will examine the character of Simon and his role in Lord of the Flies. Lord of the flies is the story of a group of a public schoolboy that has been stranded on a desert island. This takes place in the backdrop of the cold war. The island is a microcosm within the macrocosm of the world beyond. At first, it appears to mirror the outer world in some respect, but then the boys turn into savages. As the island represented the larger world, and as the island gets destroyed at the end of the story, it could be viewed that the book is suggesting possible world destruction. Simon’s first appearance in Lord of the Flies is his fainting, probably from the heat. Because of this, Simon appears to be a week character who is not robust. For example, ” he smiled pallidly” he is almost dazed after he faints.
In the first chapter, Simon is largely overlooked and described as a weak boy; “He was a small, skinny boy, his chin pointed, and his eyes so bright they had deceived Ralph into thinking him delightfully gay and wicked.”, this description as well as him fainting in his introduction makes him appear weak. Another thing that makes Simon look physically weak, at first impression is what Jack says when Simon faints; ” He’s always throwing a faint”, this gives the impression that as well as physically weak, he is mentally weak, ‘throwing’ gives the impression that Simon is doing it deliberately, possibly due to a poorly motivated personality. However, this is later on proved to be the complete opposite of the truth. The description also points at a possible mischievous side of Simon. However, this turns out to be pointing to his spiritual side.
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In the first few chapters, Simon is largely overlooked and made to appear as if he is just a minor character. Jack treats Simon with disrespect and not much compassion in the early chapters; he views him as one of his choir boys and then as a hunter. He is eager to enforce the fact that they are under his control and not Ralph’s; he does this because of his unquenchable thirst for power. During the democratic elections, where Ralph is voted as a leader, he believes it is his place to be a leader regardless of what the other boys think. He represents dictatorship at this stage of the novel, whilst Ralph and the conch represent western democratic ideas.
After the election, Ralph decides to go on an expedition to explore the island and find out if it is really an island. He chooses Jack to accompany him; Ralph probably wants to find out about Jack and if he is a threat to his leadership. Ralph also chooses Simon to go on the expedition; he chooses Simon for a number of reasons; he wants to access how much of a threat Jack is to his leadership, so by choosing Simon, he can find out what sort of leader Jack is and how he treats Simon. He may also choose Simon, as at this point in the story is a rather impartial character who will let Ralph and Jack go on the expedition without interference. He also chose Simon, despite seeing him faint not long before; maybe he chooses Simon to give himself a better chance of looking successful. Maybe he chose Jack and Simon because he wanted to gauge Jacks physical strength against his own, using Simon as a benchmark as he had already seen his physical weakness.
If this is true, then he did not choose Piggy, who desperately wanted to go, because he cared for him, despite treating him to the contrary.” A kind of glamour was spread over them and the scene, and they were conscious of the glamour and made happy by it.” This shows that they were seen as explorers, and just by going, the other children’s opinions of them had changed; maybe it was a mistake choosing Jack to go with him. During the expedition, Simons spiritual side is first explored; when the three boys see a plant that has a bud that resembles candles, Simon is fascinated, “Like candles, candle bushes, candle buds!” This shows Simons appreciation of natural beauty, and the candles resemble his background in the choir, which he has respect and curiousness for. Jack, on the other hand, shows contempt, and is violent towards the plant, “the enormity of the downwards stroke’, shows that he resents his Choir backgrounds and exploits it for power as the head choir boy.
Ralph shows little imagination, dismissing the candle buds; this shows his lack of imagination. Later in the chapter, the boys see a pig, and Jack is not able to kill; due to his macrocosm values, he is still humane and has not yet descended into savagery, although he wants to, as it would make him look powerful. Although Simon is in this scene, he is not involved with the pig incident, keeping his innocent record. Simon does not view the beast like the other boys on the island; he uses his spiritual side to explore the possibilities. Not assuming it exists and must, be killed or that it definitely cannot exist like Ralph or Piggy, he takes the view that maybe it does exist, but the beast is in them. In chapter three, Simon’s behaviour is seen by the other boys as increasingly odd, as he goes into the woods on his own at nights and doesn’t mind being by himself. The beast does not scare him. This is because of his strong personality and spiritual side. Simon has a deep understanding concerning the beast but is not able to put his ideas and emotions into words, so Golding provides them.
The first real act of evil on the island occurs when Simon is sitting alone in the forest and witnessed the killing of the sow. Simon realizes that this is the first real act of evil on the island, especially when the head gets placed on a stick as a “gift” for the beast, therefore idolizing it! Simon is the only boy on the island who discovers what the Beast truly is. In an epileptic fit, he dreams he is talking to the head, whom he calls ‘The Lord of The Flies’ in this conversation, the pigs head tries to tempt Simon into joining Ralph and Jack in their feast of the sow, “they think your batty” the beast tries to persuade Simon by criticising him. When Simon awakes, he decides he has to confront the beast; this will help him conquer his fears. By now, the others are almost worshipping the beast. As Simon approaches the “beast”, he discovers it is a parachutist rotting body, being moved by the parachute swaying in the wind.
At first, he feels sympathy for the parachutist and frees him from the parachute. When he tries to tell the rest of the children, he is mistaken as the Beast and beaten to death. This is one of the reasons that Simon is often seen as a Christ figure in the novel. Golding portrays the death of Simon as a beautiful thing, surrounded by “strange moonbeam bodied creatures with fiery eyes” These small creatures resemble tiny angles carrying Simon away, signifying Simons religious importance to the novel. As Simon drifts out to sea, Golding changes the scene from the island to the whole world, the sun and the moon circling forever. This signifies two things; firstly that Simons death has universal importance in a macrocosm much wider than the island. I think he is also trying to show that the world is in many ways like the island, a microcosm in a much larger macrocosm, and whatever destruction and suffering is caused, it is insignificant compared to what is happening in the larger Macrocosm.
After Simons death, the island quickly descends into savagery; this is why Simon is seen to represent goodness and fairness; with his death came the death of democracy and all ‘humanitarian’ ideas and principles. When Simon leaves the island, there is no one left to challenge evil. By this time, Roger is symbolizing the increasing evil on the island. Jack and his tribe decide that they have killed the beast with Simons death, although Jack still seems to want it as if he is dependant on the beast. I feel this is because his power is based on fear, and the beast provides that fear. This brings Ralph and Piggy into conflict with the ‘tribe’, resulting in Piggy’s violent death and tribe hunting Ralph. At the end of the novel, the boys set the island on fire, destroying everything, and at the last moment, an Army officer lands on the island, this is a “dues ex machiener”, which was used in old plays; when the world was in chaos, and everyone is about to die, an almighty thing (often a god) comes and fixes everything. Golding’s point is with this is that this wouldn’t happen in real life and that we have our own fate in our hands.
In conclusion, I can say that Simon is an essential character in Lord of the flies because the novel is an allegory; each character signifies an important idea. I think Simon represents natural human goodness (which is killed off with Simons death and the completion of the boys turning into savages), Ralph represents order, leadership, and civilization, democracy (which is ended with the smashing of the conch, and Ralph’s downfall as leader); Piggy represents the scientific and intellectual aspects of civilization; Jack represents savagery and the desire for power; Roger represents brutality and bloodlust and the desire for evil. Unlike the other kids on the island, Simon acts morally not out of guilt or shame but because he believes in its inherent value.
He behaves kindly toward the younger children, and he is the first to realize the problem posed by the beast and the Lord of the Flies and that the monster on the island is not some physical beast but rather a savagery that lurks within each person. This idea finds representation in the sow’s head and eventually stands as the moral conclusion of the novel. The main problem of the book is the idea of inherent human evil and man’s essential illness. Against this, Simon seems to represent an idea of essential human goodness. Yet his brutal murder by the other boys indicates the scarcity of that goodness amid an overwhelming abundance of evil.