In Lord of the Flies, the society that developedon the island eventually led to bloodshed and anarchy, despite its inhabitantsbeing children. Lord of the Fliesthus demonstrates that the desire for power has the capability to corrupthumanity, as seen by the development of the children on the island. Lord of the Flies can also be seen as anexample of Marxist literature, when considering that Ralph is a representationof the bourgeoisie, while Jack embodies the proletariat. The novel therefore signifies that a power struggle isinevitable in every society, seeing how the society on the island ultimately ledto such a conflict between Jack and Ralph. Hence, there are clear repercussionswhen attempting to enforce power over others.
Lord of the Flies conveys that the desire for power has the capability to corrupthumanity and civilisation, even for those considered the most innocent insociety; this is shown in chapter 12 where “Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart.” Thisdisplays how despite the events that transpired across the duration of thenovel, the boys were ultimately children who lost their compassion in a strugglefor control. A Marxist perspective would argue the children have becomeinhumane people primarily due to the class divide that developed on the island.”The other little boys began to shake and sob too,” highlights the loss ofinnocence, as their actions during the novel have taken a toll on them.
Goldingmay have been inspired to express this message by his experiences in World WarII, later stating, “I began to see what people were capable of doing. Anyonewho moved through those years without understanding that man produces evil as abee produces honey, must have been blind or wrong in the head.” Golding thus successfullyportrays how all humans are capable of malicious actions and this is clear inthe deterioration of the characters, despite being of young ages. In addition, Golding’s use of foreshadowing displays that arepercussion of abiding to a class system is the loss of humanity. An example of this is when Roger throws small stones towardsHenry, but has been socialised into stopping himself from doing any realdamage. In fact, he is initially described to be a boy “who kept to himself withavoidance and secrecy,” in Chapter 1.
Later in the novel,the small stones evolve into a huge rock which Roger rolls down the hill ontoPiggy, who is killed as a result. The contrasting events indicate how Roger’sunderstanding of civilised behaviour has been lost, and in the place of achild, a savage has been born. In his’Foreword’ to his 1859 Towards a Critiqueof Political Economy, Marx states, “It is not the consciousness of men thatdetermines their existence, but their social existence that determines theirconsciousness.” This demonstrates how the actions of a human are determined bythe society that they live in, which influences their behaviour. Hence, Lord of the Flies suggests living in asociety with varying authority tarnishes humanity, as it profoundly affects thebehaviour of those living in it.Moreover, therepercussions of a class divide are portrayed in the death of Simon. Simon’sdeath is used by Golding to present the complete loss of civilisation by theboys, becoming savages who kill without reason. Golding uses pathetic fallacyas a means of displaying this, with the storm emphasising the anarchy that hasdeveloped as a result of the island’s class divide.
Additionally, there areclear parallels between Simon and Jesus Christ throughout the novel, showingreligious connotations – they are both killed knowing the truths of society andin a bid to save others. Their deaths, however represent very contrastingfunctions. While Jesus died to save mankind, Simon’s death simply highlightsthe moral corruption of humans, demonstrating the negativity that occurs oncehumans are forced into a society where some possess more power than others. The chronological structure of the novel alsoallows us to see the democratic society slowly deteriorate as their humanitydoes too.
At the beginning of the novel, the boys vote for Simon as chief,indicating that their humanity is still intact. However, they gradually becomemore like savages, and their deterioration is most evident in Simon’s death;having engaged in a ritual dance and brutally murdering Simon when mistakinghim to be the beast. Thus, Simon’s death successfully symbolises therepercussions of a class divide, as it represents the boys’ complete loss of civilisation. In addition, William Golding suggests that conflictfor dominance is inescapable in society, as seen by the struggle between Jackand Ralph. “Who thinks Ralph shouldn’t be Chief?” explicitly states that Jackis questioning Ralph’s position as chief, which is the beginning a revolution.
“Why should choosing make any difference?” again portrays Jack rejectingRalph’s established position, stating that “choosing” should not be a factor, exemplifyingJack’s opposition to democracy. The frequency to which Jack disregards Ralph’ssuperiority to him thus illustrates how a struggle for dominance is unavoidable,as those in the lower classes will rise up against the leaders. In addition, Goldingpresents Jack to be an embodiment of the proletariat. Traditional Marxism dealswith conflict of the classes, and this is represented in the conflict betweenJack and Ralph. Marxist ideology also claims that the proletariat wouldeventually attempt to overthrow the bourgeoisie. This is present in Lord of the Flies, where Jack and hischoir attempt to gain control of the island.
“Ralph smiled and held up theconch for silence,” reiterates Ralph’s position as the bourgeoisie, as he isthe one to control the actions of the proletariat. H. Berten argues in Literary Theory: The Basics thatcapitalism turns people into things, it reifies them. It is therefore clearthat any form of power over another person takes away their humanity, renderingthem objects.Moreover, in “Power lay in the brown swell ofhis forearms: authority sat on his shoulder and chattered in his ear like anape,” the use of a simile emphasises how Jack has truly achieved his desire tobe the one in control.
David Spitz states that in this quotation Jack hasprevailed, displaying that the proletariat revolution has been successful; perMarxist reading, the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ has now begun. Moreover,the comparison to an ape alludes to how inhumane the children have become,losing their humanity in their fight for dominance. The triadic structure isused by Golding to accentuate that Jack has taken control over democracy. “Whatare we? Humans? Or animals? Or savages?” also proves how the children of thenovel have become inhumane, taking on characteristics of animals in theprocess.
Jack takes control of democracy in asimilar fashion to authoritarian leaders such as Adolf Hitler, who declaredGermany a one-party state by also taking control of democracy. P. Barry in Beginning Theory claims that a commonpractice by Marxist critics is the ‘politicisation of literary form,’ – theclaim that literary forms are themselves determined by political circumstance. AsGolding fought in World War II, Jack is a definitive representation of dictatorsin society, as Golding personally fought against Nazis during this time. Thismay have affected the way in which Golding portrays power, as his writing wasaffected by the political situation around the publication of the novel. Thisis how Golding signifies that power struggles are bound to happen in society.A Marxistinfluence is also evident when considering that Ralph embodies democracy whileJack represents militarism.
Ralph embodying democracy is clear seeing how hewas voted by the majority of the boys to be the chief of the island. Thedemocratic process is exemplified in, “‘Whowants me?’ Everyhand outside the choir except Piggy’s was raised immediately.” Thus, since most of the survivors voted for Ralph’sleadership rather than it being taken by force, Ralph symbolises the fairaspect of democracy. In addition, Golding also writes Jack to be a representationof militarism. For instance, in “Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Bash her in,” inChapter 7, the triadic structure emphasises the regression of Jack’s characterfrom a child to a sadistic murderer, as the power struggle has led to Jack becomingmilitant.
Jack also refers to the choir as “Hunters,” throughout the book, andhis assuredness regarding the position of himself and his choir foreshadows hiseventual antagonistic role within the book. The word ‘hunters’ has a clearallusion to war, linking again to the military, solidifying his position asrepresentation of militarism. This is how Ralph embodies democracy and Jackrepresents militarism.Thus, William Golding succeeds in suggestingthat abiding to a society with a class divide will inevitably lead to a powerstruggle. Jack and Ralph symbolisetwo opposing institutions in the proletariat and bourgeoisie, and according toMarxist interpretation, it is imminent that the proletariat would revoltagainst the higher class. Considering William Golding fought in WWII, thedeterioration of the characters’ humanity is used by Golding to emphasisemankind’s capabilities, suffering from corruption and evil. The repercussionsof a class divide are particularly exemplified in Simon’s death, indicating thelevel to which difference in power turns humans into savages. Therefore, Lord of the Flies displays that therepercussions of forcing a class divide is a severe loss of humanity; those inthe novel commit severe crimes despite being children, proving the dangers of asociety with a class system.