Sir I can’t get the meaning of dialectical materialism.
Prepared by: Monica San Juan
• Begin in the 19th century as a pragmatic view of
history that offered the working classes of society
an opportunity to change their world
• It offered humanity a social, political, economic,
and cultural understanding of the nature of
reality, society and the individual.
• Root of Marxist literary
• Born in Tier, Germany in
• His writings became the
basis of Marxism
• Died on 14 March 1883
Our place in the
a text and the
society that reads it.
on class relations
and societal conflict
• Marx declares that “consciousness does not
determine life: life determines consciousness.”
• Humans define themselves.
• He said that our ideas and concepts about
ourselves fashioned in everyday discourse in the
language of real life.
• Core belief of Marxism
• Marx believed that society had progressed from one
economic system to another
• As society progresses from a feudal system to a more
market-based economy, the actual process from
producing, distributing, and consuming goods becomes
• People’s functions within the economic system become
Engenders and controls all human institutions and
All social and legal institutions, political and
educational systems, religions, and art
(Production for profit)
(Society’s ultimate goal “the worker’s paradise”)
• class of society which
does not have ownership
of the means of
• wealthy class that rules
• States that the history of all existing societies is
the history of class struggle
• They declare that the capitalists, or the
bourgeoisie, had successfully enslaved the
working class, or the proletariat through
economic policies and production of goods.
• History became the basis for 20th century
Marxism, socialism, and communism
• History, an understanding of people and their
actions and beliefs is determined by economic
• Marx maintains that an intricate web of social
relationships emerges when any group of people
engage in the production of goods.
• The ideology of a society such as the
beliefs, values and culture is determined
by the upper class.
• The rich become richer, while the poor
• G. K. Plehanov – Translated “The Communist
• Russia – first country to promote Marxist
• Leon Trotsky – became the founding father of
Marxist literary criticism as he authored
Literature and Revolution (1925)
• Believed that a detailed analysis of symbols, images and
other literary devices (formalism) would expose class
conflict and expose the relationship between the
superstructure and the base
Approach to literary analysis declaring that texts
directly reflect a society's consciousness
Emphasizing negative effects of capitalism such as
• Neo-Marxist group devoted to developing western
• A text reveals a culture’s fragmentation and not its
• He said that there is a complex relationship
between the base and the superstructure
• The bourgeoisie establish and maintain what he
• As sustainers of the economic base, the
dominant class thus enjoys the prestige of the
masses and controls the ideology that shapes
• Literature actually concerns itself with the
• Production Theory
The superstructure can and does influence the base
• Althusser believes that the prevailing ideology
forms the attitudes of people in society through a
process he calls interpellation or “hailing the
• The people’s worldview is thus craftily shaped by
a complex network of messages sent to them
through the elements contained in the
superstructure, including the arts.
• Fredric Jameson believes that the function of
literary analysis is to uncover the political
unconscious present in a text.
He said that all critics must be aware of their own
ideology when analyzing a text and must therefore
possess dialectical self-awareness.
• Terry Eagleton
Believes that literature is neither a product of pure
inspiration nor the product of the author's feelings.
Literature is a product of an ideology. This ideology is a
result of the social interactions that occur between
people in definite times and locations.
The critic’s task is to reconstruct an author’s ideology.
• Marxism is not primarily a literary theory that can
be used to interpret a text.
• It is a set of social, economic, and political ideas
that its followers believe will enable them to
interpret and more importantly, change the world.
• Marxism is material, not spiritual.
• All of our actions and responses to such
activities are related in some way to our culture.
• In order to understand ourselves and our world,
we must first acknowledge the interrelatedness
of all our actions within the society.
• It is our cultural and our social circumstances
that determine who we are.
• The structure of our society is built on a series of
ongoing conflicts between social classes.
• Capitalists control the society’s ideology or social
• The focus of literature is the relationship of a
society’s superstructure to other elements and to
• Marxism addresses the cry of working class
• Concerns for the working classes and the
• Recognizing the interrelatedness of all human
• Deals with more than the conventional literary
themes, matters of style, plot, characterization
and the usual emphasis on figures of speech and
other literary devices
1. Author’s life
2. Time/period in which the text was written
3. Cultural milieu
4. Ideology expressed by the author
• Expressed by the author, as evidenced through
his or her fictional world, and how this ideology
interacts with the reader’s personal ideology.
• Expose class conflict with the dominant class
and its ideology being imposed
• The task of the critic is to uncover the ideology
and show how such a destructive ideology
entraps the working classes and oppresses them
in every area of their lives.
• A critic may begin by showing how an author’s
text reflects his or her ideology through an
examination of the fictional world’s characters.
Setting, society, or any other aspect of the text.
• It could also be by examining the history and the
culture of the times reflected in the text
1. Is there an outright rejection of socialism in the
2. Does the text raise fundamental criticism about
the emptiness of life in bourgeois society?
3. In portraying society, what approximation of
totality does the author achieve? What is
emphasized? What is ignored?
4. How well is the fate of the individual linked
organically to the nature of societal forces?
What are the work’s conflicting forces?
5. At what points are actions or solutions to
problems forced or unreal?
6. Are characters from all social levels equally well
7. What are the values of each class in the work?
8. What is valued most? Sacrifice? Assent?
9. How clearly do narratives of disillusionment and
defeat indicate that bourgeoisie values
(competition, acquisitiveness, chauvism) are
incompatible with human happiness?
10.Does the protagonist defend or defect from the
dominant values of society? Are those values in
ascendancy or decay?