Marxist Literary Criticism
Karl Marx was a German philosopher, economist and sociologist as well as a political revolutionary. He, with the aid of Friedrech Engels, published theCommunist Manifesto in 1848. In the manifesto, Marx identified three social classes in his theory: The Aristocracy which refers to the small number of land owners who have control over the economy of the country, the Bourgeois class which refers to the high class people who have control over the industrial sites and factories and they rooted from the Aristocratic class that was influential before the industrial revolution, and finally the working class (Proletarian) who are victimized in the factories by the Bourgeois class. However, in the nineteenth century, the Aristocracy was already replaced by the Bourgeoisie class due the Industrial Revolution that happened earlier. Marxist literary criticism is based on the Marxist theory which is meant to be used in analysis of literary texts in order to see how economy and matter affect the personality and behaviors of the characters within the literary text (Hall: 78). Marxist criticism suggests that these economic social classes will have their ideologies reflected in the literary textual representations, thus, it is important for critics to be fully conscious of these classes and their ideologies in order to give a fuller and authentic description or analysis of the texts that they are working on(Ibid). Thus , the main idea of Marxism is that “instead of making abstract affirmations about a whole group of problems such as man, knowledge, matter and nature, he examines each problem in its dynamic relation to the others and, above ( Ibid). The most fundamental argument of Marxist literary and cultural theories is that they do not see art as something that is separate from society, but art is, as Eagleton says, “part of the „superstructure‟ of society” (Eagleton: 5) and he central concern of Marxist literary criticism is to note the relationship between the economy and literature. Marxist critics argue that art is social because its produced and received in concrete contexts, and because the creator is some one with a class, gender and racial identity. Thus the author is “part of her own context”. Art, in Marxist readings, “is interpreted as a material practice, perhaps because it relies on „technology‟… is concretely realized in situations which themselves are material… or is bought and sold like other commodities” ( Haslett: 8). The first thing that one needs to do in order to do a Marxist analysis is, according to Eagleton, “to understand the complex, indirect relations between… works [of art] and the ideological worlds they inhabit”. The interest of Marxist literary theories is consequently to try to place the work in an overall context, since “art cannot exist outside society” (Haslett : 15).Eagleton also suggests that Marxist literary theory is to analyze literature “in terms of the historical conditions which produce it”.
What makes Marxism different from other theories is that it prioritizes the way in which culture is created, distributed and obtained as a tangible and social practice. The economic mode of society is vital for Marxist theorists because it isthe financial system that often decides how art will be constructed. Marxist literary theories are not homogenous, and there are many way to do a Marxist analysis, but all approaches have in common that they try both to convey the relationship between literature and society, and to challenge the separation which this relationship entails. Literature is situated within the larger parameters of social, economic and cultural history, effectively erasing the division between „literary‟ and „cultural‟ theory
Most Marxist critics also assume that “the objects we view as works of literature or art are the products of historical forces that can be analyzed byfocusing on the material conditions in which they are formed” (Childers and Hentzi:...
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