August 2016 - NDL institute
Tulisan Terkini

Tuesday, August 16, 2016



Agus Khairi

Abstract: this paper is aimed to reveal the social class of the characters in each literary work. As Marxist perspective that divided today society as upper and lower class. By applying Marxist critics in each work, found that in John Donnes’s Death, Be Not Proud, the character “I” as upper class and the death is lower class. Otherwise in Emily Dickinson’s Because I Could Not Stop For Death, the character “I” as lower class and the death as upper class, and the last in Appointment In Samarra as Retold By William Sommerset the death as upper class and the servant as lower class.

Keywords: Marxist critics, upper class, lower class

The term class in society or community is group of people that have different with other class. It is used to classify a group of people in society based on certain criteria. Wright (2003) argue “Classes are social categories sharing subjectively-salient  attributes  used  by  people  to  rank  those  categories  within  a  system  of economic  stratification”. It means that classes are divided into stratification based on economic components because Furthermore, according to Marxism, class society is divided based on the socioeconomic, where there are “haves” class and “haves-not” class, bourgeoisie and proletarian. In Marxism point of view, people are divided into social class based on socioeconomic more significant that divided based on gender, ethnicity, religion or race (Tyson, 2006, p. 54). That is why commonly classification of people in society is upper class and lower class.
In socioeconomic view, capital have important role in society and can be used as standard to divide people in social class. Class who have capital become upper class and those who do not have capital become lower class. In relationship between these classes, there is unfair relationship which is upper class get profit from lower class in economic production. For instance; the relationship between capitalist, the class who have factory, and their worker. Marxism claim this relationship is oppressing the worker because capitalist get high profit and the worker just get little many from the capitalist. As stated by Tyson (2006, p. 55), “members  of  the  underclass  and  the  lower  class  are  economically oppressed: they suffer the ills of economic privation, are hardest hit by economic recessions, and have limited means of improving their lot”. That is Marxist point of view about classes in this capitalist era, where capitalist as upper class has power to role all of the aspect of life.
Oppressing by upper class toward lower class is not only in economic field as physical material in society but also oppressing through mind, which is called hegemony. Hegemony is used to influence the lower class in order to keep upper class’s domination toward the lower class as subordination in their view. This term hegemony is mentioned by Antonio  Gramsci and explained by Williams “related the ‘whole social process’ to structures  of  power  and  influence  and  thus  to  patterns  of  domination,  subordination and opposition (Selden, Widdowson, & Brooker, p. 100). In Marxist perspective, upper class keep trying to maintain their domination by structuring power in all aspect of life, e.g. through political movement, often becomes ruling class in government. Those economic power and hegemony show us that how upper class rule toward lower class.
Those Marxist perspectives in socioeconomic can applied in literary work as a critic. Because Marxism believe that literary work is influenced by the environment or situation where the literary work created. As stated in Tyson (2006, p. 66) “it is a product of the socioeconomic and hence ideological conditions of the time and place in which it was written, whether or not the author intended it so.” A literary work can not be separated from the time and place it created, because those will influence the author point of view and thought about reality in his/her surrounding. That is why Marxism proposed as one of literary criticism as ideological movement from Marxist.
There are some questions Marxist critics ask about literary work based on the ideology developed. Through the theory of Marxist critics this paper will discuss about upper and lower class in three literary works, John Donnes’s Death, Be Not Proud, Emily Dickinson’s Because I Could Not Stop For Death, and Appointment in Samarra as Retold By William Sommerset. Those three literary works are considered have same theme, that is talking about death. In today’s critics, it may be happen when literary work has same theme or may be inspired by previous work where previous work called hypotext and the recent work called hypertext in term of intertextuality (Allen, 2000). That is why this paper tries to reveal upper and lower class in those three literary work as considered that Death, be not proud as hypotext of newer work, Because I Could Not Stop For Death, and Appointment in Samarra even in different form, by applying Marxist critics.

As Marxism critics about upper and lower class in socioeconomic field, in this discussion try to analyze the upper and the lower class of the character in each of three literary works. The first will be analyzed John Donnes’s Death, Be Not Proud as a hypo text of next two works; Emily Deckinson’s Because I Could Not Stop For Death and Appointment in Samarra as Retold By William Sommerset, and will be continued by analyzing those two works as hypertext.

a.    John Donnes’s Death, Be Not Proud
There are two characters can be analyzed in this work to know the upper and lower class. Those two characters are Death and I (author). In this poem can be concluded that “I” as upper class and “Death” as lower class. It can be seen in the first line of this poem “Death, be not proud, though some have called thee”.
From the line, the character “I” is more powerful than Death, although in reality death is depicted as scary or to be feared by people. Having the power to challenge the death place the character “I” as an upper class and “Death” as a lower class. Phrase “be not proud” can be seen as a hegemony from the upper class (I) to the lower class (Death) that indicate the character of upper class, see the lower class as subordination and can be dominated by the upper class.

b.   Emily Deckinson’s Because I Could Not Stop For Death
In this poem, there are two characters are depicted, they are I and Death. To know the class of each character, can be seen in the first line of the poem.
“Because I could not stop for Death”
The character “I” said that She can not stop for her death because the Death is more powerful than her. Because the Death has more power and can be said that He is upper class and the character “I” is lower class. He dominated her by his power so that “I” can not stop for his coming. She is under domination of death and must receive his coming without trying to against him.
c.    Appoinment In Samarra as Retold By William Sommerset Maughm
This work in form of short story that consist of three characters in it. They are The Merchant, Servant, and Death is depicted as Woman. The analysis focus on The Servant and The Death, which one is upper and lower class in the story.
From the story known that The Servant try to avoid the Death he met in the market. It is shown us that The Death has more power that the servant has, so that the servant afraid of her when the servant see the woman in the market. The servant avoid the death by moving to the other city show that the domination of the death in that place can not be against by the servant. So, it can be concluded that the death is upper class and the servant is lower class in this story. 

Upper class and lower class are surely there in the society and can be shown in literary work as human creation as member of society. By applying Marxist critics toward three literary works can be analyzed upper and lower class in literary work. In John Donnes’s Death, Be Not Proud, the character “I” as upper class and the death is lower class. Otherwise in Emily Dickinson’s Because I Could Not Stop For Death, the character “I” as lower class and the death as upper class, and the last in Appointment In Samarra as Retold By William Sommerset the death as upper class and the servant as lower class. Those characters are divided into those classes based on who has the power and dominate another as Marxist perspective. 

Allen, G. (2000). Intertextuality. New York: Routledge.
Dickinson, E. (1960). Because I could not stop for Death. Break, Burn, Blow: Camille Paglia Reads Forty-three of the World’s Best Poems.
Donne, J., & Adcock, F. (2004). 'Death be Not Proud': ProQuest LLC.
Holmes, L. Wrestling with Destiny: Routledge.
Selden, R., Widdowson, P., & Brooker, P. (2005). A Reader’s Guide to Contemporary Literary Theory (5 ed.). Great Britain: Pearson Education Limited.
Tyson, L. (2006). Critical Theory Today (2 ed.). New York: Routledge.

Wright, E. O. (2003). Social Class. Encyclopedia of Social Theory.



Agus Khairi

Abstract: This paper is aimed to reveal the slavery and freedom in Beloved write by Tomi Morrison by applying Marxist Criticism. The analysis set up from the basic view of slavery happen in human development in the world. Beloved story tells about slavery in the nineteenth century known as precapitalist society in America South. Based on the Marxist perspective there are three concerning that indicates slavery in this story, those are inequality, commodification and alienation. And the last, from the analysis found that the continually oppression can raise the slaves’ consciousness up to get freedom from their slave-owner.       

Keyword: slavery, freedom, Marxist critics

General history of human development in the world is not out of slavery phase even though it can be different in each place and community. This is in line with Engerman (2003, p. 187) argues that “slavery has taken many different forms; it has been among the most frequent of human institutions, existing in almost all societies in the past and in most parts of the world.” Slavery is a system in a society where a human or group of human as a master of the others, then called slave. Master can do anything to the slave because slave as his/her mine and can be sold to the other master. Generally, slave as worker who is under command of the master and asked to do all of the master works.  
According to Marxist perspective there are four epochs of human development in the word, namely primitive communism, ancient society, feudal society, and capitalist society (Livesey). Generally in those epochs, slavery happen in ancient society. Nevertheless, historically slavery can be found in modern era when people have economic income and power. People who have more economic income enslave others who do not have economic income to fulfill their need in daily life. Even though the relationship between those people are worker and work giver but still oppression happen in their relationship.
Moreover, Marxism view the oppression in society based on socioeconomic that make stratification into class in society. This perspective consistently hold by Marxist in viewing social stratification from primitive communism till capitalist society. In capitalist society, according to Marxism, people are divided into “haves” class and “have-nots” class, bourgeois and proletariat. Socioeconomic class not only view stratification from economic power but also political power (Tyson, 2006, p. 54).               
Based on the perspective of class stratification base on socioeconomic in capitalist society, Marxism critics in literature focus on class stratification and oppression among them. Marxism reveal the oppression upper class toward lower class in capitalist society within the text. According to Marxists, even literature itself is a social institution and has a specific ideological function, based on the background and ideology of the author. Furthermore, Marxist look for oppression of a lower class by an upper class. They examine how people are made into commodities to make money off of. They examine the economics featured in the text. Marxist also examine what social classes are featured in the text.
In Marxist perspective, what author thought and wrote in his/her work are reflection from objectives in their environment, as Pereverzev (2014, p. 56) “state that A literary  scholar's  task consists in discovering the objective reality in a work of literature which provided the material  for it and determined its structure.” Furthermore, Terry Eagleton as cited in Castle (2007, p. 108) insists that “The literary text is not the ‘expression’ of ideology, nor is ideology the ‘expression’ of social class.”  It means that the critic reveals the objective of capitalism as a reality that happens in society as economic development and divide people base on economic power.

Beloved tell about slavery in America South in nineteenth century, this era indicates precapitalist era where slavery exist at that time. Even though, Marxism is appropriate with capitalist economic system but it can be useful here because capitalism and slavery intimately related as historical phenomenon. In applying Marxist critics in Beloved, firstly, will be discussed the characters divisions based on Marxist perspective, namely upper class (masters) and lower class (slaves). Social stratification in Beloved can be seen below:
Upper Class (Bourgeois, Slave-owner)
This class consists of characters who enslave the lower class; those are Mr. and Mrs. Garner, Schoolteacher

Lower Class (Slaves)
This class consists of characters who become slave; those are Paul D., Paul A, Sethe, Denver, Baby Suggs, and Sixo
 After identifying the characters based on the social stratification, it will be discussed more about text in Beloved base on Marxist perspectives about relation of the characters in order the slavery can be revealed clearly in this Novel. In analyzing the novel, Marxist perspective will be the main referring that used as basic to view the point that indicates slavery in the story.
It is clear that in the novel depicted inequality among the characters. This inequality is structured by race, that is American and African. Even though, Marxism do not divide human based on the race but in this case, the fact, the African at that time is lack of economic power, means that the African was poor. This economic circumstance, make him need to work to the farm owners. In this relation, the farm owner is superior than the worker, so the worker becomes the inferior. It can be seen that the position of farm owner, then become slave owner, is structured by having farm as capital rather than race. This is in line with Marxist perspective about a fundamental division between two social group; namely one group who have control to food production and other fundamental resources that needed by the society. Then, the other group is a group who has not owned or controlled the production (Livesey). By having the resources of production may make inequality in the society so that appear superiority and inferiority.     
Enslavement by Garners in this story is suggested by economic motive, that is benefit that will be gotten if the use slaves’ to do the work in their farm. By using the slaves they can ask them to work without pay attention to the fee because they are slave owners who have right to the slaves. This is kind of way to make surplus in production by minimizing the cost of production by employing the slaves they have. This is what Marxist critics to the capitalist society that they tend to accumulate the capital by minimizing the cost production; one of the ways is that low price of worker or labor. In the precapitalist society, feudal to capitalist, having slaves is part of minimizing the cost of production. It can be concluded that it is clearly depicted the slavery caused by economic motive, not racial motive.
 Marxism also critics about commodification of objects and labor in capitalist society. Commodification in this era is difference with precapitalist era in commodifying person or labor. Recent capitalist  ore focus on exchange value or sign exchange value, as stated in (Tyson, 2006) “Commodification is the act of relating to objects or persons in terms of their exchange value or signexchange value.” Otherwise in precapitalist era, commodification involve person or human being as object as commodity. Slave-owners may sell their slaves to the others by certain number of money and can be used to fund their farm development. This happen in Beloved and can be seen when slave owner make bargain each other in number of money.
The commodification make the slaves feel alien in their lives. Of course it influences their relationship among the society they involved. They limit their relationship each other, even their family because the alienation caused by commodification. They afraid when attached someone in their live, the person will be taken away from them because the slave owner sell them to the others that may be in different places. Clearly can be seen, slavery, that permit slaves are sold to the others cause the alienation in Beloved story. The characters not freely attached themselves with the other because afraid of lost. That is why personal relationship among the slaves broke up ant they tend to selfish. This alienation is stated by Karl Marx that is happen in capitalist society as stated in (Tyson, 2006, p. 61) that the labor dissociated from their own labor as well and on the society as a whole. Similar with what happen beloved where the slaves and former slaves become alienated from the society and live far away from the community. Like Sethe and her family that alienated from their community of slave-owners and they live in Cincinnati.
Moreover the alienation of slave from each other is used by slave-owner to make slaves live partially and can avoid their unity. The unity of slaves or worker worry the owner because can be threat for their superiority. Slave-owners tend to alienate the slaves in order divide and conquer strategy they used continually happen. But, what slave-owners afraid of finally happen among the slaves. Communal bonding among the slaves rises up and planned to escape from Sweet Home Farm. No matter what slave-owners do to make relation between the slaves is broken but it surely will rise in a certain time. This is what Marxist believe that someday lower class will get unity and make movement to free up themselves and become ruling class. In Beloved story, the effort of slaves to get freedom depict in scene Denver rise up his brave to leave the house and ask for help. 

Slavery happen in human development in the world base on economic and socioeconomic. Slaves are considered as lower class and slave-owner who has economic power as upper class. This happen in Beloved writes by Morrison where take place is America South and tell based on the situation in nineteenth century, known as precapitalist era. Marxist perspectives view the slavery of the story by reveal three points, namely inequality by enslavement, commodification and alienation. Otherwise, freedom is viewed by analyzing the effort of the character to escape from the farm to free themselves up.
Castle, G. (2007). The Blackwell Guide to Literary Theory. USA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Engerman, S. (2003). SLAVERY, FREEDOM, AND SEN. Feminist Economics, 9(2-3), 27. doi:10.1080/1354570032000078033
Livesey, C. Social Inequality.   Retrieved from
Pereverzev, V. F. (2014). Essential Premises in Marxist Literary Scholarship. Soviet Studies in Literature, 22(2-3), 10.

Tyson, L. (2006). Critical Theory Today (2 ed.). New York: Routledge.



Agus Khairi

Washback is commonly known in language assessment as a part of principles in language assessment that should be considered in administrating the test. Hughes in Brown (2004) stated washback is “the effect of testing on teaching and learning”. More over Green (2013) stated that Washback refers to the impact that a test has on the teaching and learning done in preparation for it. The influences can be appeared in teaching and learning process in the classroom after previous test and how to face further test. The influence may positive and negative as Taylor (2005) argue that ‘washback is generally perceived as being either negative (harmful) or positive (beneficial)”. As a part of language assessment principles, washback can be appeared in formative and summative test.
National examination (UN) in Indonesia kind of summative test, which is conducted in every year, in the end of school year. Especially English National Examination, as language assessment, of course has washback in teaching and learning process whether positive or negative. “Negative washback is said to occur when a test’s content or format is based on a narrow definition of language ability, and so constrains the teaching/learning context” (Taylor, 2005). Moreover, according to Prodomou (1995, p.14) in Bedford  “overt washback is usually negative and seen in the explicit use of examination papers or examples from textbooks that emphasize the skills used in exams”. Based on the explanation can be stated the question What are National Examination negative washback? Negative washback can be seen: 1) in the way of teacher teach in classroom, 2) publisher intention in published examination oriented text-book and 3) students’ learning focus. Those three negative washback will be explained in this reflection.
First, way of teacher teach English in the classroom especially in last grade in each educational institution can be influenced by national examination that will be faced in the end of the school year. It was as negative washback affected by national examination as final test held by government, in this case National education Ministry. Teacher tends to teach what will be tested in national examination rather than the completely basic competences that should be taught in the last grade. Graduate basic competence (SKL) delivered by BNSP each year become guidance for teacher in teaching English and ignored some basic competences, especially speaking. Taylor (2005) argued “teachers will be influenced by the knowledge that their students are planning to take a certain test and will adapt their teaching methodology and lesson content to reflect the test’s demands.” Even though there are extra times that provide by school management to prepare national examination. The way of teacher teaches tend to national examination material become phenomenon, generally in schools, that was considered as national examination negative washback.
Second, national examination (UN) negative washback also can be seen in books are published tend to examination-oriented. The contents of the book provide materials intents to how to solve or answer questions provided in UN. The book is not provided to fulfill teachers or students need in learning English completely related to basic competences. Pearson in Cheng (1997) “points out that examinations are commonly used as levers for change. In those cases, textbooks will be designed to match the purposes of a new test.” It is commonly happen in our place that many books are provided national examination prediction test as exercise and the last previous national examination test. It was extremely clear that national examination influence how the book publisher provide books that tend to provide material for national examination rather than basic competences.
Third, National Examination negative washback for students is how the students learn focus on. They tend to learn focus on material test oriented based on what teachers’ instruction taken from SKL UN. It is negative washback because focus on learning material test oriented make students ignore other materials and suppose those are not important. It is related to Hughes in Green (2013) “suggested that washback should only be anticipated where participants are motivated to succeed on the test.” Test can change the aim of students learn the material in their classroom because of their intention to focus learn about national examination material. It is different with other tests that have certain purpose, for instance placement test, selection test for certain position etc. Of course, it can not be categorized as negative washback when the test-takers focus learn about those kinds of test only. While, national examination is aimed to test whole process of learning process in each level educational institution. So, it is called negative washback when students focus on learning about materials that will be tested in national examination.
National examination in it applying to each level educational institution may cause positive and negative washback. Negative washback can be seen in three of these; the way of teacher teaches in the classroom, publisher and focus students’ learning provide books on test-oriented. Those are caused teaching and learning process no longer orient to basic competences provided by government but rather than test-oriented, how to achieve scores for passing the national examination. It can be said that the students’ learning process is score-oriented. Thus, it can be concluded that many negative washback of national examination can be found in teaching and learning process and its supporting things.                           

Bedford, J. Washback – the Effect of Assessment on ESOL Teaching and Learning.
Brown, H. D. (2004). assessment: Principles and classroom practices. New York: Pearson Education.
Cheng, L. (1997). How Does Washback Influence Teaching? Implications for Hong Kong. Language and Education, 11(1), 17. doi: 10.1080/09500789708666717
Green, A. (2013). Washback in language assessment. International Journal of English Studies, 13(2), 13.

Taylor, L. (2005). Washback and impact. ELT Journal, 59, 2. doi:10.1093/eltj/cci030
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