What Does the Beastie Symbolize: An Analysis of Its Significance in Literature

The Beastie is one of the most fascinating symbols that is often used in literature and mythology. It has a way of capturing imagination and evoking feelings of awe and fear at the same time. But what exactly does the beastie symbolize? What deeper meaning lies beneath this iconic representation of ferocity and power?

The Beastie represents our primal nature, our deepest desires, our darkest fears, and our most passionate emotions. It is a symbol of our untamed instincts, our animalistic tendencies, and our unbridled aggression. It embodies the raw power that lies dormant within us, waiting to be unleashed. And yet, it also represents the danger that comes with giving in to our urges and impulses.

Throughout history, the Beastie has been used to explore the dual nature of humanity, the struggle between our higher selves and our baser instincts. It is a reminder of our mortality and our vulnerability, but also of our incredible strength and resilience. And so, the Beastie remains a timeless symbol that continues to capture our imagination and provoke deep introspection.

Historical context of the term “beastie”

The term “beastie” has a long history and has been used in various contexts throughout the centuries. The word “beastie” can be traced back to Middle English, where it was used to refer to any animal, wild or domestic. During the Middle Ages, the term “beastie” was commonly used to describe mythical or legendary creatures such as dragons and unicorns.

In the 19th century, the term “beastie” became associated with Scotland and the Scottish dialect. It was often used to describe mischievous creatures, such as the brownie or sprite, that were said to inhabit the forests and moors of Scotland. These creatures were believed to be responsible for pranks and mischief around the home, such as moving furniture or hiding household items.

Perhaps the most widely known use of the term “beastie” is in William Golding’s novel, “Lord of the Flies”. In the book, a group of young boys are stranded on a deserted island and are forced to fend for themselves. As the boys become more savage and primal, they begin to worship a “beastie” – a mythical creature that they believe is living on the island. The “beastie” represents the primal and savage nature of the boys and their descent into barbarism.

Biblical references to beasts and their significance

The Bible is full of references to beasts, many of which hold significant meaning beyond their literal interpretations. As we explore the symbolism of the beastie, it is important to understand some of these references and their significance in biblical scripture.

  • In the Book of Revelation, the beast is a symbol of evil and chaos, often associated with Satan. It is described as having seven heads and ten horns, representing its power and authority over the earth.
  • The Old Testament also contains references to beasts as symbols of destruction and chaos. In the Book of Daniel, the prophet has a vision of four beasts, each representing a different world empire that would arise in the future.
  • Another important biblical reference is the story of Daniel in the lion’s den. In this story, Daniel is thrown into a den of lions as punishment for disobeying the king’s orders. However, God protects Daniel from harm and he emerges unscathed.

These references to beasts and their symbolic meanings are important in understanding the significance of the beastie in literature and culture. They represent the darker aspects of humanity and the struggle between good and evil.

Another interesting aspect of biblical references to beasts is their association with the number 666. This number is often referred to as the “number of the beast” and it has been the subject of much speculation and debate among biblical scholars. However, some interpret it as a symbol of imperfection and incompleteness, as it falls short of the perfect number 777.

Biblical References Beast Symbolism
Book of Revelation Evil, chaos, Satan, power
Book of Daniel Destruction, chaos, world empires
Daniel in the lion’s den Protection, divine intervention

Overall, the symbolism of beasts and the number 666 play an important role in our understanding of the beastie and its cultural significance. They represent the darker aspects of human nature and the struggle between good and evil that is inherent in all of us.

Beast symbolism in ancient mythology

Throughout history, the depiction of beasts has been a common theme in ancient mythology and literature. These creatures often symbolize various abstract concepts, such as good versus evil, strength, and power. The symbolism of beasts in ancient mythology still resonates today and continues to influence contemporary art, literature, and popular culture. In this article, we will explore the multifaceted symbolism of beasts in ancient mythology.

Beast symbolism in ancient mythology: The number 3

The number 3 is a significant symbolic element in many ancient mythologies. Many beasts in ancient mythology are depicted in groups of three, which symbolizes the concept of balance and harmony between opposing forces. In the Christian religion, the Holy Trinity is composed of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In Greek mythology, the three-headed dog Cerberus guarded the entrance to the underworld. In Hindu mythology, the three-headed god Shiva symbolizes the three qualities of nature: creation, preservation, and destruction.

  • Three is a magic number in many cultures.
  • The number three is often associated with completion or fulfillment of a task.
  • Many cultures believe that three is a powerful number that can bring good luck and fortune.

The symbolism of the number 3 can also be seen in the representation of beasts in ancient mythology. For example, in Norse mythology, the three-headed serpent named Nidhogg is a symbol of chaos and destruction. In Ancient Egypt, the three-headed beast called Apophis was a symbol of darkness and chaos that had to be defeated by the god Ra every night to ensure the sun could rise again in the morning.

Mythology Beasts Number 3 Symbolism
Christianity Holy Trinity Balance between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Greek Cerberus Guardian of the underworld, three heads symbolize balance between life, death, and rebirth
Hindu Shiva God of destruction, symbolizes creation, preservation, and destruction
Norse Nidhogg Three heads symbolize the three roots of Yggdrasil, the world tree, that support the different worlds in Norse mythology
Ancient Egypt Apophis Three heads symbolize the three lower chakras, which represent the primal instincts and emotions that must be overcome to achieve enlightenment

In conclusion, the symbolism of beasts in ancient mythology is a complex concept that can represent various abstract notions. The number 3 is a potent symbol found in many ancient mythologies and is often used to symbolize balance and harmony between opposing forces. The representation of beasts in groups of three can be seen throughout history and continues to influence contemporary art and culture.

The portrayal of beasts in fairy tales and children’s literature

Fairy tales and children’s literature have long been associated with mythical creatures and beasts, often used as tools to teach moral lessons and cautionary tales. These beasts have become a ubiquitous symbol in literature, representing good and evil, power and vulnerability, and everything in between. In this article, we’ll explore the symbolic meanings behind some of the most popular beasts found in literature.

  • Dragons: Dragons are often depicted as powerful, fire-breathing beasts, representing strength and danger. In some cultures, they are revered as symbols of power and good luck. In others, they are feared as evil creatures. In literature, dragons are often the primary antagonist, representing the ultimate obstacle for heroes to overcome.
  • Wolves: Wolves have long been associated with cunning and deception, often used by authors to represent the darker side of human nature. In some stories, they are seen as protectors or guides, while in others, they are the enemy, preying on the innocent.
  • Unicorns: Unicorns are mythical creatures often associated with purity and innocence, representing goodness and virtue. In literature, they are typically depicted as gentle and kind, embodying all that is good in the world.

Another popular beast found in literature is the beast itself, which is often used as a symbol for the inner turmoil of characters. In fables such as “Beauty and the Beast,” the beast represents the inner ugliness of characters, which are transformed through love and acceptance. In other stories, the beast is representative of the primal instincts of humanity, reminding readers of their animalistic origins and the power of their wild side.

The use of beasts in storytelling

Beasts are often used as a way to teach moral lessons in literature, as well as to explore universal truths about human nature. The use of beasts in storytelling also provides a sense of escapism, allowing readers to explore fantastical worlds and creatures that exist outside of their everyday lives.

For children, beasts in literature can be a safe way to explore complex themes and emotions, such as fear, bravery, and love. They can also be used to teach children about the natural world, and our relationship with animals.

A closer look at literary beasts

To fully understand the symbolism behind beasts in literature, it’s important to examine the specific contexts in which they appear. In the table below, we’ve listed some of the most popular beasts found in literature, along with their common symbolic meanings.

Beast Symbolic Meaning
Dragon Strength, danger, evil
Wolf Cunning, deception, darkness
Unicorn Purity, innocence, goodness
Beast Inner turmoil, transformation, wildness

In conclusion, beasts have become an integral part of literature, providing readers with a glimpse into fantastical worlds and exploring universal themes and emotions. By examining the symbolic meanings behind these beasts, we can gain a deeper understanding of the messages and lessons hidden within the stories we read.

The use of beasts in heraldry and coat of arms

In the art of heraldry, beasts have been used for centuries as symbols of power, strength, and prosperity. They are featured prominently in coat of arms and other heraldic devices, and are often used to represent a family, a city, or a country. Beasts also have a long history in mythology and folklore, and their presence in heraldry reflects this rich cultural heritage.

  • Historical significance of beasts in heraldry:
    • Many of the earliest heraldic devices featured beasts, such as lions, eagles, and dragons, which were often depicted in a stylized or symbolic manner.
    • The use of beasts in heraldry became more widespread during the Middle Ages, when coats of arms were used to identify knights on the battlefield.
    • Beasts were chosen for their symbolic significance, with each animal representing different qualities such as courage, loyalty, and wisdom.
  • Examples of popular beasts in heraldry:
    • Lions: One of the most commonly used beasts in heraldry, lions are often depicted as fierce, courageous animals that symbolize strength and nobility.
    • Dragons: Often associated with royalty and power, dragons are popular heraldic beasts in countries such as Wales and China.
    • Unicorns: A mythical beast with a single horn, unicorns are used in heraldry to represent purity, innocence, and grace.

One of the most fascinating aspects of beasts in heraldry is the intricate symbolism associated with each animal. For example, the lion is often shown with a crown or other regal symbol to represent its status as the “king of beasts.” The unicorn, on the other hand, is often depicted with a chain around its neck to symbolize its captivity, and a broken chain to represent its freedom or liberation.

Beast Symbolism
Lion Strength, courage, nobility
Dragon Power, royalty
Unicorn Purity, grace, freedom

Overall, the use of beasts in heraldry and coat of arms serves as a testament to the enduring power of mythology and folklore in our cultural imagination. Whether used to represent a family, a city, or a country, these powerful symbols continue to inspire awe and wonder today.

Beasts in Medieval Bestiaries and Their Allegorical Meanings

Bestiaries are illustrated manuscripts that describe and illustrate various animals, both real and imaginary, along with their supposed characteristics and allegorical meanings. These manuscripts were popular during the Middle Ages, with the earliest known bestiary dating back to the 2nd century.

The Symbolism of Beasts in Medieval Bestiaries

  • The Lion: Symbolizes strength and courage, as well as Jesus Christ who was referred to as the “lion of Judah”.
  • The Unicorn: Represents purity and salvation, and was believed to be able to purify water with its horn.
  • The Dragon: Often depicted as an evil beast that needed to be slain, represents sin and temptation.

The Significance of the Number Six in Bestiaries

The number six holds significance in bestiaries as it represents imperfection and incompleteness. This is because six is one less than seven, which is considered a perfect number that represents completion and wholeness.

Beast Symbolic Meaning Significance of Six
Griffin Combination of eagle and lion, represents fierceness and courage Six wings representing imperfection and incompleteness
Basilisk Mythical creature with a deadly gaze, represents sin and temptation Six legs representing imperfection and incompleteness
Leopard Symbolizes speed and cunning Often depicted with six dots on its forehead, representing the imperfections and flaws of humanity

The number six is also associated with the devil in Christian symbolism, as he is believed to be an imperfect and incomplete being. In bestiaries, the devil is often depicted as a six-headed beast or a creature with six legs, emphasizing his imperfection.

The Role of Beasts in Native American Folklore

Beasts have always played a significant role in Native American folklore, and their symbolism is deeply rooted in their culture and beliefs. Animals were considered sacred by many tribes and were believed to possess spiritual powers that could help them connect with the divine world. These beliefs shaped the way they perceived and interacted with the natural world.

Among the many beasts that hold particular significance in Native American folklore, the number seven holds a special place. It is considered a sacred number that holds deep spiritual meaning. Let’s explore the symbolism of the number seven in Native American folklore further.

  • The Seven Directions: Many Native American cultures believe in the cosmological significance of the four directions, but some add three more directions; above, below, and within. These seven directions represent the different realms of existence, including the physical, spiritual, and divine worlds.
  • The Seven Sacred Rituals: Some tribes practice the seven sacred rituals, which are believed to connect them to the spiritual world. These rituals include the sweat lodge ceremony, vision quest, and sun dance.
  • The Seven Arrows: The Cheyenne tribe has a sacred ritual that involves breaking seven arrows to invoke the help of the divine world. Each arrow is broken individually, representing the seven sacred directions.

The number seven is also significant in many other aspects of Native American culture, including the seven clans, seven herbs, and seven dances. The symbolism of the number seven shows that Native Americans believe in the interconnectedness of all things in the world and the importance of balance and harmony.

Animal Symbolism
Bear Strength, courage, and protection
Wolf Leadership, loyalty, and teamwork
Buffalo Abundance, perseverance, and gratitude
Eagle Spiritual connection, vision, and freedom

The significance of beasts in Native American folklore and their symbolism is a reminder of the importance of respecting and living in harmony with the natural world, as it is essential to their cultural beliefs and traditions. Understanding these symbols can help us connect with this ancient culture and appreciate their unique worldview, which is deeply rooted in nature.

Beasts as representatives of wild nature and the natural world

Throughout history, beasts have been revered as symbols of power, strength, and mystery. They represent the wildness and unpredictability of nature, and the primal instincts that humans share with the animal kingdom. But what exactly do these beasts symbolize in our cultural imagination?

  • Strength and Power: Many of the most fearsome beasts, such as lions, tigers, and bears, are associated with strength and power. They are often depicted as ferocious hunters, capable of bringing down prey many times their own size. In mythology, they are often the companions or mounts of gods and heroes, symbolic of their own strength and prowess.
  • Protection and Loyalty: Other beasts, such as wolves, dogs, and eagles, are seen as loyal protectors. They are often associated with guardianship and defense, and are frequently used as symbols of national pride, such as the American bald eagle or the Mexican golden eagle.
  • Mystery and the Unexplained: Some beasts, such as unicorns, dragons, and mermaids, are shrouded in mystery and magic. They represent the unknown and the fantastical, and are often associated with otherworldly realms and spiritual power.

But perhaps the most important thing that beasts symbolize is our own connection to nature. They remind us that we are not separate from the natural world, but rather a part of it. They embody the raw power and beautiful chaos of the wild, and remind us to never take the natural world for granted.

One interesting interpretation of the beast as a symbol is the concept of the “beast within.” This is the idea that every human contains a primal, animalistic side that is always present, no matter how civilized or refined we may appear on the surface. This concept is often explored in literature and film, such as the character of Mr. Hyde in Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

Beast Symbolism
Lion Strength, power, royalty
Wolf Loyalty, guardianship, intelligence
Dragon Mystery, magic, power
Bear Strength, protection, courage

Ultimately, the symbolism of the beast is vast and multifaceted. It can represent so many different things, from strength and power to loyalty and protection, to mystery and magic. But what is most important is what it represents to each and every one of us individually. Whatever our own personal interpretation may be, the beast will always remain a powerful symbol of the wildness and beauty of the natural world.

Beasts as Symbols of Human Qualities or Emotions

Throughout literature, beasts have been used to symbolize human qualities or emotions, often representing the darker aspects of human nature. These representations can offer powerful insights into various aspects of human psychology and behavior.

The Number 9

One of the most prevalent symbols associated with beasts is the number 9. In many cultures, the number 9 is associated with completion or perfection. This significance is often linked to the nine lives of a cat or the nine-headed Hydra of Greek mythology. In Chinese traditions, 9 is a symbol of luck and good fortune, while in numerology, it represents wisdom and spiritual enlightenment.

However, the number 9 can also represent darker aspects of human nature. In Christianity, the Beast of Revelation is said to have seven heads and ten horns, which add up to 17. The number 17 is then reduced to 8, and 8 plus 1 (representing the beast itself) equals 9. This association has led many to view the number 9 as a symbol of evil or corruption.

Furthermore, some believe that the number 9 represents the peak of emotional intensity and pain. This can be seen in the phrase “the ninth circle of hell,” which represents the deepest level of despair and suffering.

Other Beastly Symbols

  • Snakes: Symbolic of deception, temptation, and danger. In Greek mythology, the Gorgon Medusa was portrayed as a snake-headed monster who turned people to stone.
  • Wolves: Representing primal instincts, power, and savagery. In many cultures, wolves are viewed as both threatening and revered.
  • Bears: Often symbolizing strength, protection, and ferocity. In Native American cultures, the bear is viewed as a powerful spirit animal.


The use of beasts as symbols of human qualities or emotions is a common literary device that has been used for centuries. Whether representing positive or negative aspects of human nature, these symbols offer insights into the complexities of the human psyche. The number 9, along with other animal symbols, provides a rich landscape for exploring the darker aspects of our humanity.

Symbol Meaning
Cat Luck, mystery, independence
Dragon Power, strength, wisdom
Eagle Freedom, courage, vision
Lion Nobility, strength, leadership

These animal symbols, along with many others, offer a powerful lens through which to view and understand various aspects of human experience.

The connection between beasts and the surreal or dreamlike state in art and literature.

Beasts have been used throughout art and literature to symbolize various ideas, often in conjunction with surreal or dreamlike states. Here are some examples:

  • In Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis,” the main character Gregor Samsa wakes up one day to find himself transformed into an insect. The insect is a symbol for his alienation and disenchantment with his own life.
  • Salvador Dali’s paintings often feature bizarre and dreamlike landscapes, with animals and other objects merging together in surreal ways. This reflects his fascination with the workings of the subconscious mind and the dream state.
  • In “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis, the character Aslan is a lion who represents Jesus Christ. As a symbol of strength and power, Aslan is essential to the plot – his sacrifice provides salvation for the other characters.

These examples demonstrate just a few ways that beasts can be used to represent deeper truths or to create a sense of unease or disorientation in the reader or viewer. In these cases, the use of beasts serves to deepen the impact of the artist’s work, providing an intriguing and often unsettling counterpoint to more mundane themes.

In addition to these literary and artistic examples, the connection between beasts and surrealism can also be seen in the history of mythology. Many ancient cultures had gods or goddesses who were represented by animals, such as the Egyptian god Anubis, who had the head of a jackal. In these myths, the animal was often a symbol for a particular aspect of the deity’s power or personality.

Mythical Creature Meaning
Phoenix Rebirth and renewal
Dragon Power and strength
Centaur Wildness and freedom

Overall, the connection between beasts and surrealism is a rich and fascinating area of exploration that has captivated artists and writers for centuries. Whether it’s through the use of animal symbolism, the creation of strange and wondrous creatures, or the reinterpretation of ancient myths, the power of the beast to evoke the unknown and the uncanny remains a vital force in the world of art and literature.

What Does the Beastie Symbolize FAQs

Q: What is the beastie in “Lord of the Flies”?

A: The beastie is a fictional creature that is perceived as a threat by the boys stranded on the island in “Lord of the Flies.”

Q: What does the beastie symbolize?

A: The beastie symbolizes the primal instincts and inner fears of the boys.

Q: How does the beastie impact the boys?

A: The beastie causes fear and paranoia among the boys, leading them to act irrationally and violently at times.

Q: Does the beastie actually exist?

A: The existence of the beastie is left ambiguous in the book, as it is never actually seen or caught by the boys.

Q: Is the beastie a physical or symbolic representation?

A: The beastie is primarily a symbolic representation of the boys’ inner demons and primal instincts.

Q: Does the beastie symbolize anything beyond the immediate context of the book?

A: The beastie can be seen as a representation of the inherent savagery within all humans, making it a universal symbol.

Q: What message does the beastie symbolize in “Lord of the Flies”?

A: The beastie symbolizes the destructive power of fear and the importance of facing one’s own fears in order to overcome them.

Closing Thoughts

Thanks for taking the time to learn about what the beastie symbolizes in “Lord of the Flies.” It’s important to remember that symbols like the beastie can hold deeper meanings beyond just a simple representation, and can often reflect universal truths about human nature. Make sure to check back for more interesting literary analysis and insights in the future!