Literary Criticism 336 ENG (III)MARXISIT CRITICISM
• Marxist criticism is based on the political and economic theories of Karl Marx (1818-1883).• Some representatives of this school are Christopher Caudwell, George Lucas, Luciene Goldmann, and Walter Benjamin. Carl Marx
MARXISM• Economic structure is the main driving force behind all social conditions and historical changes.• Marx considers human history as a series of struggles between classes -between the oppressed and the oppressing.• Capitalism is based on exploitation of laborers.• The workers’ revolution is the inevitable result of exploitation and the means of emancipation.• The aim of Marxism is to bring about a classless society, based on the common ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange.
CONCEPTS• The Marxist idea of society sees it as constituted by a base (the material means of production, distribution, and exchange) and a superstructure, which is the “cultural” world of ideas, art, literature, religion, education, law, and so on.• The material conditions control thought, not vise versa. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness. Marxist theory argues that the way we think and the way we experience the world around us are conditioned by the way the economy is organized.
Basic Assumptions of• Economic Marxist Criticism and social conditions affect all aspects of life including art and literature. All intellectual and artistic production are the product of these conditions. In other words, all intellectual and literary production is ideological.• Art reflects the social and economic conditions (and class conflict).• Art aims at improving the social and economic conditions.• Since literature represents ideology, Marxist critics see it as a way to understand social structures. They look for political ideas and ideologies in a text, and explore how society and economic forces influence literature.• Marxist critics explain the class structure and class relations in a literary work.• Sc0cial and economic conditions inform not only the content of literature, but also the literary form and techniques.
What do Marxist Critics ask?• What role does class play in the work?• What is the authors analysis of class relations?• What does the work say about oppression and social conflicts?