Most English Literature exams follow the same pattern of asking students to analyse a specific set passage from a text – supplementing this with your knowledge of the book as a whole. In order to prepare for this exam, it is so important to practice both your close analysis and terminology, as well as familiarise yourself with the plot of a novel, overall themes, and have a few killer quotes memorised.
The themes of Lord of the Flies can be broadly split into three main groups:
- Human Nature – i.e. the potential for evil, loss of innocence, inherent violence etc.
- The conflict between Civilisation vs. Savagery and the linked fight between Democracy and Dictatorship, Order and Chaos, Responsible leadership etc.
- The importance of Appearance and Reality, including motifs of imagination and madness, the fear of the beast and danger lurking on the island etc.
Make sure that you are able to talk confidently about the themes (listed above – can you think of any more?), motifs (i.e. biblical parallels with the Garden of Eden) and symbols (i.e. the Conch, Fire, Beast, Glasses etc.) appearing in Lord of the Flies. If you need a bit of help on the difference between Themes, Motifs and Symbols – this was the topic of an earlier blog, breaking down these terms.
Finally, if you are confident with your analysis, terminology, themes – the last thing to do before revising quotes is to make sure that you are 100% confident of the plot of the text. Watch this great overview video to remind yourself, and make notes on the key events that take place for each character – how do they develop over time, and what does this tell us about the key themes of the novel?
So – you’re good with the plot – now its time to group your quotations. I have compiled a sample below, matching quotes to key themes and characters. Take a look at this, and have a go at filling in the gaps. Would you add any other quotes, or replace the ones I’ve chosen with other, more memorable ones for you? Once you’ve got your own table, try presenting this in lots of different ways. Flashcards, Mind Maps, Online Quizzes etc., have an experiment and see which techniques work best for your own revision.
As one final thing to take a look at in your revision, John Green (Crash Course Literature) has done a great episode giving an overview of the entire book and its main themes – this is well worth a watch, to make sure that you are feeling fully confident going into the exam. Good luck, and happy revising!