Explication – Marxist Analysis on Charles Dickens’s Bleak House

Topics: Social class, Marxism, Bourgeoisie Pages: 3 (992 words) Published: March 15, 2011
Marxism aims to “bring about a classless society, based on the common ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange” (Barry 150) and looks for “concrete, scientific, logical explanations of the world” (Barry 150). The “crude” or simplest Marxist model of society is that it is made up by a base (which is the supply of the means of production) and a superstructure, the ““cultural” world of ideas, art, religion, and law” (Barry 151), which is shaped by the base. In Bleak House this base/superstructure can be seen in when the “tens of thousands of other foot passengers have been slipping and sliding ..., adding new deposits to the crust upon crust of mud” (Dickens 49). This shows that the people in the street shape its appearance by their constant efforts to walk through the muddy streets. The dirt and fog which envelope the countryside “Fog everywhere” also has an effect on the High Court of Chancery “well may the fog hang heavy in it, as if it would never let out”(Dickens 50) – this can be associated with the base/superstructure because the fog which is generated by the lower classes is affecting the appearance of the superstructure (The High Court), which becomes dim and foreboding. Some of the solicitors in the High Court of Chancery have “inherited” fortunes from their fathers (Dickens 50). This shows that the position of the upper class has been influenced by the working class, from which the upper classes had built their fortunes upon. In Bleak House the working class people can be associated with Karl Marx’s explanation of the Marxist term, alienation. This is when the workers are “related to the product of his labour as to an alien object” (qtd. by Dr Phillippa Bennett). The working classes are not associated by name but by their titles “husbandman and ploughboy” (Dickens 49) which show that the working classes are associated with their professions in which they work in, showing that the working classes are viewed by Upper classes as...

Bibliography: Barry, Peter. Beginning theory: An introduction to literary and cultural theory. 3rd ed. Manchester (etc.): Manchester University Press, 2009.
Benjamin, Walter. “The Author as Producer”. Twentieth-Century Literary Theory: A Reader. Ed. Newton. K. M. 2nd ed. London: Macmillan, 1997.
Dr. Bennett, Phillippa. Lecture notes. [Notes from Maxism, Socialism and Revolution PowerPoint slides, Wednesday 3rd November 2010].
Dickens, Charles. Bleak House. London: Penguin, 1985.
Newton, K. M. Ed. “Marxist and Neo-Marxist Criticism” Twentieth-Century Literary Theory: A Reader. 2nd ed. London: Macmillan, 1997.
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