In the novel Lord of the Flies, the author uses many objects as symbols to illustrate themes. One of these objects is Piggy’s glasses. The glasses play an important role throughout the story as they demonstrate themes that are vital to it. The glasses represent intelligence and hope as well as help to foreshadow key events across the story.
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Piggy’s glasses represent intelligence. Since Piggy is the only one on the island with glasses, this plays into the stereotype of only intelligent people have glasses. Throughout the book Piggy attempts to express his ingenuity but is often ignored. ”We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all, we’re not savages. We’re English, and the English are the best at everything. So we’ve got to do things right.” (Golding, pg 42) This quote shows that Piggy is a bright young lad who is trying to boost the confidence of the inhabitants of the island and get it together in order to survive. As well as representing intelligence, Piggy’s glasses stand for hope.
Hope is symbolized through Piggy’s eyeglasses. The spectacles represent hope by making the boys believe they could be rescued by making a fire. Without the glasses, they would have been unable to make a signal fire to alert any passing boat of their presence on the island. When Jack stole Piggy’s glasses, he also stole the hope that Ralph and Piggy had of having order. Ralph and Piggy both understood the importance of the glasses and the hope that spectacles created enough to go through great risks to retrieve them when they were stolen. In addition to symbolizing hope, Piggy’s specs tend to foreshadow future events in the story.
Piggy’s glasses are prone to foreshadow the main events in the story. At the beginning, the lenses are in good condition and so is island. As the book progresses, Piggy’s glasses begin to break. Shortly following this event, the island’s civilization begins to break down. Finally, when the savages steal the glasses and break them entirely, this represents the breaking of the last tie to humanity that the boys have. “Ralph made a step forward and Jack smacked Piggy’s head. Piggy’s glasses flew off and tinkled on the rocks.” (Golding, pg 71) After this event, it is a downward spiral into a primal and animalistic behaviour culminating in Piggy’s gruesome death.
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Such important ideas like intelligence and hope are expressed and contextualized through the concrete and simple symbol of Piggy’s glasses. Intelligence is symbolized through Piggy’s glasses because Piggy, the only intelligent human on the island, is wearing them. They also represent hope by allowing the boys to have the feeling of hope when the signal fire is lit. Piggy’s glasses also help to foreshadow main events in the story by telling readers what the condition of the inhabitants of the island based on the condition of Piggy’s glasses. Even though Piggy’s glasses may seem fragile and insignificant at the beginning of the story, they develop into an important symbol and thematic carrier that helps drive the overall plot.