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To what extent can Lord of the Flies be considered a Marxist piece?

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To what extent can Lord of the Flies be considered a Marxist piece? Lord of the Flies centres on a group of boys stranded on a tropical island when their plane crashes en route from England to Australia as part of an evacuation during an atomic war (hypothetical war.) The story is essentially an allegorical tale of the innate evil of man - good versus evil. Of the book, Golding said that he wrote it to illustrate how political systems cannot govern society effectively unless they take into consideration the inherent defects of human nature. Marxism is seen as the development from an oppressive capitalist society to an equal and classless society. Golding tries to set a utopian world within the island devoid of adult, societal constraints but in the end the innate animal characteristics of man come to the fore. Golding based his story on the 19th century novel 'The Coral Island' written by R M Ballantyne. Whereas Ballantyne's novel, an adventure story of three boys stranded on a desert island, was optimistic, Golding's is terrifyingly pessimistic. The novel was written shortly after World War II , in the early days of the Cold War when paranoia about communism was at its height. ...read more.


In this sense, Jack conforms to society's rules. It is only later in the novel when Jack no longer recognises Ralph's authority and forms his own splinter group with the hunters that Golding shows the reader Jack's true and more dangerous character. In this way, Golding is able to highlight the fact that to a degree certain savage aspects are an inherent part of man's nature (there is an overriding will to survive in humans) nevertheless in most instances this is suppressed to acceptable levels by the mores of society. Golding himself does not see the novel as a Marxist piece, but as an illustration of "the darkness of man's heart". Whilst the novel wasn't about class differences, Golding cleverly uses the language of the boys to highlight the fact there are indeed differences. For example at the beginning of Chapter 1 when Ralph meets Piggy and he asks ". . . What's your father?" When responding Piggy asks "When'll your dad rescue us?" Alternate explanations from critics seem to come to the conclusion that the events of the novel were a result of circumstance and not of the evil within man. But Golding dismisses the idea that the actions of the boys were not inevitable. ...read more.


The island is a microcosm of society, and the boys represent different political ideologies. Ralph represents democracy, whilst Jack, with his symbolic red hair, represents communism. The boy's influence on the island itself can also be seen as a metaphor for human corruption of the planet. The forest scar created by the crashing plane symbolises the encroachment of corrupt civilisation onto the island. NOTES "What makes things break up like they do?" is the poignant question Piggy asks Ralph. Golding himself blames the breakdown of the island's democracy on the innate greed and ferocity that is an occupational hazard of being human. In a lecture at the University of California in 1962 he said "So the boys try to construct a civilization on the island; but it breaks down in blood and terror because the boys are suffering from the terrible disease of being human". The fire is diatronically opposed to hunting which is the activity of anarchy. Ralph portrays democracy and the role of government in any modern society. He strives to satisfy the demands of the public at large but recognises that certain rules of behaviour must be followed in order to prevent anarchy. Anarchy eventually defeats order - Golding believed that government is ineffective in keeping people together. No matter how logical or reasonable government is, it will in the end give way to anarchical demands of the public. ...read more.

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Response to the question

There is to some extent a focus on Marxism throughout the essay, and the introduction clearly defines what the writer considers Marxism to be. However, the introduction is crucially missing an explanation of the overall conclusion which will be made ...

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Response to the question

There is to some extent a focus on Marxism throughout the essay, and the introduction clearly defines what the writer considers Marxism to be. However, the introduction is crucially missing an explanation of the overall conclusion which will be made and the structure of the essay. This makes the reader confused from the very beginning as to what the essay is actually trying to say. Indeed, the essay often strays from Marxism and considers philosophical questions without linking it back to Marxism.

Level of analysis

The author makes an attempt to consider language, metaphor and themes, but fails to use quotations from the text. This greatly hinders the quality of the essay as there needs to be a clear sign of where the essay's points have come from – usually points should be quote-driven to show that the author has not simply plucked these points from thin air. As a result, this essay often makes generalisations, such as “Ralph represents democracy, whilst Jack, with his symbolic red hair, represents communism.” Where in the text is Ralph shown to represent democracy? Is it in his control of the conch (which is mentioned in the essay but not through direct quotations), or organisation of meetings reminiscent of Parliament? Without such quotations analysis is extremely limited.

Further, the essay is made confusing structurally by the lack of topic and closing sentences in paragraphs, as the author tends to jump straight in to analysis. Paragraphs should have clear topic sentences to guide the reader through the essay, as well as a closing note linking the point back to the question. For instance, an interesting point is made when the author comments, “It can be argued that Golding uses Roger... to embody the central theme of the novel.” There is good interpretation here and the “it can be argued” shows some degree of evaluation. However, this is frustratingly limited – what is the central theme of the novel? How does this link to Marxism? Is it the fact that Roger represents what could happen without class, economic and social barriers? There are psychoanalytical aspects of this too, which the author mentions in passing – Roger represents the human “id”, present within everyone but which rules and boundaries keep contained. Overall, the points made are generally pertinent and interesting, but the author should link back to Marxism more (even in just a passing phrase to keep the essay on track) and extend analysis to using quotes and picking imagery and themes from these quotes. Evaluation is hinted at when the author considers different points throughout, but a conclusion should have been used to summarise and evaluate which point is most important and to answer the question. By the end of the essay the reader still doesn't know whether the author believes LOTF is Marxist.

Quality of writing

Spelling and grammar is generally good with few mistakes. Technical language could have been used to enhance analysis. In terms of the level of analysis and evaluation, this text does not meet expectations for AS/A Level, though there are signs that with adequate quotation and less historical, arbitrary context, this could be an excellent essay.

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Reviewed by _becca 16/07/2012

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