Marxist criticism is a type of criticism in which literary works are viewed as the product of work and whose practitioners emphasize the role of class and ideology as they reflect, propagate, and even challenge the prevailing social order. Rather than viewing texts as repositories for hidden meanings, Marxist critics view texts as material products to be understood in broadly historical terms. In short, literary works are viewed as a product of work (and hence of the realm of production and consumption we call economics). INTRODUCTION
Based on the socialist and dialectical theories of Karl Marx, Marxist criticism views literary works as reflections of the social institutions out of which they are born. 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. In essence, Marxists believe that a work of literature is not a result of divine inspiration or pure artistic endeavor, but that it arises out of the economic and ideological circumstances surrounding its creation.
For Marxist critics, works of literature often mirror the creator’s own place in society, and they interpret most texts in relation to their relevance regarding issues of class struggle as depicted in a work of fiction. Although Marx did not write extensively on literature and its place in society, he did detail the relationship between economic determinism and the social superstructure in various texts, including Zur Kritik der Politischen Okonomie (1859), where he stated: “The mode of production of material life determines altogether the social, political, and intellectual life process.
It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but on the contrary their social being, that determines their consciousness. ” Thus, although he did not expound in detail on the connections between literature and society, it is agreed among most scholars that Marx did view the relationship between literary activity and the economic center of society as an interactive process Marxism says that people in the world are organized into different groups or classes based on their relationship to how things are made. Most people are called “workers” because they work in factories or offices or farms for money.
They belong to the “working class” (or “proletariat”). Another group, who are not as big as the working class are “capitalists”, because they own the factories, land and buildings that the workers have to work in and also own all of the tools the workers have to use. Marx calls Capitalists the “Ruling Class” because they live off of the work of all the workers. He also says that the Capitalists own the government, army and courts. In Marxist views, Capital is the “means of production” and money which the Capitalist can invest in different places of business so that they can “profit” or gain more Capital.